Ensuring the show goes on
With all the beds nicely filled, it's easy to put your feet up and think that’s everything done. Whilst the hubbub of sowing and planting out has certainly eased by July, it still pays to be thinking ahead. Otherwise, come autumn, you are suddenly left with a load of empty beds. Whilst it is good to give some of the beds a rest and sow them with green manures to protect the soil, it seems a shame not to have produce in the winter.
So lettuces are doing really well here, a lot more than we can eat (willingly anyway). The slugs have been playing very nicely by focusing their efforts on ruining just one of them, and leaving the others untouched. However soon, I know they will very quickly start to bolt and the leaves will turn bitter. So I have some ready in pots to pop in when these ones become less palatable. We are growing Marvel of 4 seasons, a beautiful multi-coloured loose leafed lettuce, and something that came in a packet of seeds labelled ‘Little Gem’ but definitely looks more like a multi-coloured Batavia lettuce to me. Not sure what happened there!
Winter brassicas are well under-way. Purple sprouting broccoli and kalette, a cross between a cabbage and a brussels sprout are both planted now. The object of growing kalette, seems to be to produce something that looks like a brussel sprout that has gone wrong and blown, so I reckon I will be quite successful at that! Both of these take up space for a long time, and we don’t have a huge growing area, so to maximise on space, I grew them in large pots, so that I could wait until the garlic was harvested at the beginning of July, before putting them in the ground. There is still time to sow kale now, I have just recently sown some Red Russian and Winter Red (they both look very similar to me), a flat-leaved variety. Both did very well last year.
And of course, there are winter salads. People who sow rocket in spring, are destined to a life of rapidly bolting plants and attacks from flea beetle, so I am inclined to wait until later in the year before trying to grow it. Last year, we grew rocket, mizuna, Green in Snow mustard, Winter red mustard and Golden Frills mustard in large pots, and never had to buy any salad all winter. I can particularly recommend Golden Frills which developed a hot garlic-like taste over the winter. Saving seed from these plants was easy, I just left them in their pots then collected the seed from the dried pods. As I said before, this isn’t doing it by the book and they may have crossed with each other, but the result will be an interesting surprise!
More about Anton...
Anton is a Knowledge Officer at Garden Organic, where he has worked for 16 years. He is looking forward to writing a series of blogs on how to garden using little resources.
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