"Remember - always sow the seeds. You can catch up on everything else - but if you get behind on that, then there's nothing you can do about it." ....That means now!... Everyday the light is getting shorter and growth is slowing.
Sow outdoors in pots or modules - for later planting in the tunnel or greenhouse when summer crops are cleared and space is available - or direct sow in tunnel now if not too hot:
Cabbages 'Greensleeves' (Unwins), 'Greyhound' & other leafy non-hearting spring types, carrots ('Nantes' and other early finger types, in long modules), kales such as Cavalo Nero, dwarf green curled and Ragged Jack (or Red Russian) for baby leaves, lettuces (non-hearting leafy types such as green & red Lollo, Batavians and Lattughino , winter 'Gem' & winter butterheads), lamb's lettuce (corn salad), endives*, Swiss chards & 'perpetual'leaf beets*, beetroot 'Bull's Blood' & 'McGregor's favourite' (for salad leaves*), peas (for pea shoots), Claytonia* (also called miner's lettuce or winter purslane), American landcress*, leaf chicories*, rocket, brocoletto 'Cima di Rapa', all oriental greens such as mizuna, pak choi*, Choy Sum, mustards, Komatsuna, Tatsoi, summer turnips*, summer spinach, salad onions*, leafy salad mixes, coriander*, chervil*, plain leaved and curly parsley* and broad leaved sorrel*.
Covering all young seedlings while in seed trays outdoors with a fine mesh-covered frame or cloche will give them protection from pests, early autumn strong winds or heavy rain. Cabbage root fly is still active in early Sept. and can devastate brassica crops. Be extra careful with watering and ventilation of seedlings now, in the damp autumn air.
If you want new potatoes for Christmas - you could also still plant a few potato tubers in pots before mid-Sept. - to bring into the greenhouse or tunnel later. 'Autumn planting ready' types are available now in garden centres - or if you have any small tubers of 1st or 2nd earlies you've kept from your spring crop, or 'Mayan Gold' lifted in spring/summer - put them in the fridge for a couple of weeks - then bring into the warm and keep dark for a few days - this will initiate sprouting of shoots - Mayan Gold is a great tasting potato which will grow quite happily at any season of the year as it's not day-length sensitive. Lady Christl is always the fastest to bulk up and will give the best crop but Sharpe's Express and Duke of York are also good. The sooner you do it the better now. Give really good air circulation to avoid late blight and don't wet foliage when watering as this encourages it.
Outdoors, sow in modules, in a seedbed for transplanting, or in situ where they are to crop - To possibly to cover with cloches or frames later on in autumn:
Early summer cauliflowers for next year, brocoletto 'Cima di Rapa', fast-growing early 'Nantes' type carrots for a late autumn crop, cabbages (red ball head, 'Greyhound' and leafy non-hearting spring types), leaf chicories*, endives*, salad onions*, Claytonia (winter purslane)*, lamb's lettuce*, American landcress*, winter lettuces*, kales*, radishes,Oriental radish such as green skinned red fleshed Mantanhong, or Pink Dragon (a great variety), rocket, summer spinach*, Swiss chard* and leaf beets*, oriental greens such as Choy Sum, Pak choi*, mibuna, mizuna, mustards 'Red & Green Frills', Chinese kale (Kailaan), Komatsuna*, and any fast-maturing salad leaf mixes.
On any empty patches of ground already cleared of crops that won't be used over winter - sow green manures now such as alfalfa, red clover, mustard (a brassica so watch rotations) winter tares, field beans, fenugreek, phacelia and Hungarian grazing rye. These help to improve soil, mop up nutrients to stop them leaching, being lost and polluting groundwater. Green manures or even weeds will 'lock-up' carbon and feed worms later when cut down and covered. Dig them in or cut down and leave on surface later after the first frosts, then cover to protect the soil, prevent nutrient loss and possible pollution. The worms will then work on incorporating the plant material into the soil over the winter - leaving you a perfect, weed free, friable and more fertile soil to start your spring sowings next year. Don't leave manure or mulches uncovered now.
Also remember to sow a few hardy annuals to flower early next year for bees and other pollinators. They need all the help they can get now!
*Best sown in early September
And don't forget there's still just time to plant some saffron bulbs (see last month).
(P.S. - I really enjoy sharing my original ideas and 40 years experience of growing and cooking my own organic food with you. It's most satisfying and naturally also very complimentary if others find "inspiration" in my work......But if you do happen to copy any of my material, or repeat it in any way online - I would appreciate it very much if you would please mention that it originally came from me, as it's the result of many years of hard work and hard won-experience. Thank you.)