Remember, always sow the seeds. You can catch up on everything else, but if you don't sow seeds on time - you may have lost your chance. This is especially important for any late autumn and winter crops that need starting off now!
|Ruby chard Vulcan - one of the best winter crops in the polytunnel or outside.||Hearting chicory 'Sugar Loaf' or 'Pain de Sucre' - another winter standby in the polytunnel or outside|
*Also very important* - If you haven't got seeds of winter vegetables you will need then get them as soon as possible, as many garden centre shops take their seed displays down this month, and online may also be sold out. Things are calming down a bit on the seed sowing front now - but many crops that need sowing now need sowing as soon as possible, if you want to get decent crops over the winter, as with light levels decreasing growth of many crops slows up dramatically towards the end of this month. After that, only the faster-growing autumn crops will reliably give you a good crop before the winter, and growth of overwintering veg like chicory and chards will also be much poorer. Remember that plant growth is governed by light - not warmth.
Due to COVID19 many seed suppliers are already sold out or short of seeds such as chard and perpetual spinach beet this year, so I suggest get your skates on, and order them before you miss your chance! But please don't buy more than one packet, as it's unnecessary and may result in others being disappointed. If the seeds you buy are open-pollinated, non-F1 varieties, then next spring and summer you can easily save seed from them which will be far healthier and more vigorous than anything you could ever buy.
Seeds to sow outdoors for autumn and overwinter crops:
In modules, in a seedbed for transplanting, or in situ where they are to crop:
Beetroot, brocoletto 'Cima di Rapa', carrots, cabbages ('Greyhound' and leafy non-hearting spring types**), overwintering spring-heading cauliflowers**, peas* (early dwarf vars.only now), Florence fennel, 'Witloof' chicory (for winter forcing), sugar loaf chicory, radicchios, endives, salad onions, claytonia, landcress, lettuces (Lattughino, Fristina, Winter Density, Jack Ice, Cherokee, all good varieties), kohl rabi, 'Hungry Gap' kale (for spring cropping), radishes, rocket, Swiss chards and leaf beets, perpetual and summer spinach, summer white or yellow turnips, Chinese cabbage, Choy Sum, Pak choi, mizuna, mustard 'Red Frills' and other oriental leaves, Chinese kale (Kailaan), lamb's lettuce (corn salad), salad mixes, herbs such as parsley, chervil, coriander, dill, fennel, buckler-leaved and French sorrel.
Also sow some single, quick growing, annual flowers such as limnanthes (poached egg flower), calendula, Californian poppies, nasturtiums, phacelia, etc. to attract beneficial insects like hover flies to help with pest control, and bees to help with crop pollination. Sow fast growing green manures like buckwheat, red clover, mustard (which is a brassica so watch rotations) and Phacelia, to improve the soil, 'lock-up' carbon and feed worms (after digging in), on any empty patches of ground cleared of early crops that won't be used for 6 weeks or so, or which needs improving. This is also the best time of year to sow all types of hardy herbaceous perennials, biennials and wildflowers. Foxgloves, primulas and hellebores in particular germinate really quickly and easily if sown as soon as this year's seed is ripe.
Again - sowing into modules means that you will get maximum crops out of your space by always having something ready to plant wherever there is room - bigger module-raised plants are also more resistant to slugs and other pests. Sowing a wildflower meadow mix in seed trays or modules is actually a far more reliable method of establishing a new meadow than trying to sow directly into grass where there is too much competition from other mature plants and also many pests. These can be planted out in patches later.
(*Early July only, ** mid-late July)