How is your veg and fruit doing in this wet summer?
My experiments have had mixed and interesting results. I grew kohlrabi and beetroot with success. Both are tasty steamed and tossed in a little butter. For this the whole beet (leaves and all) should be picked when the beets are still quite small (about the size of a £2 coin). The kohlrabi should be treated in the same way but cut off the tough stems of the leaves. I prefer the beet, perhaps the kohlrabi’s subtle flavour is better in soups – it has the advantage of being an early vegetable, mine I started picking in May.
Also successful were my cut and come again lettuce, rocket, and basil. My purple sprouting broccoli has been planted out in the flower garden and is flourishing (companion planting!). My sweet peppers have found the year wet and cold and have aphid infestations. The broad beans were rather sparse, and the scarlet runners are growing like mad but no beans as yet (see Garden Organic website for more info if this applies to you too).
Jobs to do in August:
Sow green manures, watch out for blight, sow winter salads
If your garden, balcony, or windowsill is too small for green manures then the seaweed meal is a good alternative. In any event we need to look to our soil fertility, and to rotate our vegetable families next year.
Seeds which you can continue to sow outdoors include:
- Amaranth (Calalloo) – for leaf production.
- Chinese cabbage – until end of August.
- Spring cabbage – sow in seedbed to transplant in Sept/Oct.
- Chicory, red and sugar loaf – until end of August.
- Coriander – for leaf production.
- Florence fennel – last sowings early August.
- Fenugreek (methi) – for leaf production. For growing information, see the Garden Organic website.
- Kohlrabi – try Azure Star. A quick maturing crop with a striking purple skinned bulb with greeny/white flesh. The leaves can also be eaten.
- Lamb’s Lettuce or Corn salad – very hardy winter salad with a soft texture and mild flavour. Lasts well throughout the winter, and when it flowers next spring the flowers can be eaten too.
- Land cress or American cress – makes an excellent substitute for watercress and is very hardy, usually surviving even the toughest winter.
- Winter Lettuce.
Sow winter varieties for harvesting in November and December:
- Autumn sown (Japanese) onions – sow seed in August. Try Senshyu Yellow, or Keepwell to harvest next June. Sets can be planted in September, but get your seed now to ensure availability.
- Salad onions – winter varieties from August onwards
- Oriental greens – a whole range of these useful crops can be sown now.
- Pak choi - until end of August. China Choi has thick white stems and contrasting dark green leaves.
- Peas – last chance for autumn harvest. Sow a quick, ‘early’ variety such as Douce Provence or Meteor.
- Radish, mooli – until end of August.
- Radish, winter – until end August. Sow winter varieties such as China Rose and Black Spanish Round.
- Rocket – an August sowing of rocket will last well into the autumn and sometimes survive the winter in mild conditions or with some protection.
- Spinach, perpetual – until mid August, or end of August under cover.
- Chard – until mid August, or end of August undercover. To brighten up your winter plot, try the variety ‘Bright Lights’. Stems can be orange, yellow, red, bright pink or even white! (found under Beet in the Organic Gardening Catalogue).
- Turnip – early varieties till end August; maincrop varieties till August. One of the easiest vegetables to grow. Try White Globe or Purple Top Milan.
- Winter purslane, claytonia, Miner’s lettuce.
- Winter salad seed collection – a very hardy winter salad. Produces small, mild tasting, succulent leaves. Sow direct until end of the month.
I do hope that you have not been put off by the weather! For those of us who are curious it has been a fascinating year with some things doing well and some badly or very late, which has resulted in surprises in what is ripe for picking when.
Good growing and lets hope for some sun at last!
For more about the Master Gardener role click here.
For more growing advice see Garden Organic’s downloadable growing guides click here.