Greetings from Lancashire...
For those of us who are growing in pots and containers, this has been a challenging summer! Very high temperatures and very little rain has meant constant watering. Even if we have a water butt installed to collect rainwater most of those dried up at height of summer. On the upside, more hours of sunshine have meant that crops have ripened earlier – and I have finally managed to get tomatoes to turn red in my greenhouse! Usually, my Lancashire tomatoes are green and need to be ripened off the vine, but not this year. Luckily, my Dwarf French Bean ‘Stanley’ and Pea ‘Pea Alderman vegetable seeds’ have produced good crops. I hope your vegetables are thriving too and you have coped with the low rainfall.
What Seeds To Sow In September?
September is a good month to sow hardy crops, as the soil is still warm from the summer. I’ve now cleared some beds and pots of earlier crops such as peas, beans, spinach, lettuce and spring-planted onions. It’s not a good idea to sow seeds straight into compost or soil where you’ve just harvested without refreshing it first. So I dug in some fresh compost and add a fertiliser (my favourite chicken manure pellets) a week or two before sowing the seeds. Where I’m growing in pots, I’ve emptied out at least the top half of the previous compost to put it in my compost heap and then re-filled it with fresh compost and fertiliser.
Spring onions are a reliable crop to sow in September, and I’ve chosen the ‘Salad Onion Ramrod vegetable seeds’ variety which has an RHS Award of Garden Merit for its performance. I’ve sown the seeds thinly (about a 1cm apart) in rows 1.5cm deep and 15cm apart. I won’t need to thin these out; I’ll just let them grow and harvest them when they are about pencil thick. They’ll be going in my stir fries for a sweet, crunchy kick.
To keep the slugs off my salad crops, I’m growing the spring onions next to autumn sowings of Lettuce ‘Vailan vegetable seeds’. This variety produces firm, crunchy leaves, like a Little Gem lettuce, but are specially bred to grow well through the winter. I’ve sown the seeds 0.5cm deep; after they’ve germinated, I’ll thin them out until they are 15cm apart.
Pak Choi ‘Yuushou’ vegetable seeds produces a crunchy leaf, ideal for going in stir fries with my spring onions. I’ve sown the seeds 1.5cm deep and spaced them out 20cm so I can treat them as ‘Cut and Come Again’ crops. The Cabbage White butterfly season is over now, so I shouldn’t get caterpillars on my Pak choi, but I’ll still be watching out for damage from slugs and pigeons.
Cauliflowers can take a long time to grow, so I get a head start by sowing seeds now for an early summer crop. I’ve sown 2 or 3 Cauliflower ‘Snowball’ vegetable seeds seeds 1cm deep in small pots 9cm wide. After they’ve germinated, I’ll remove the least vigorous seedlings to leave one healthy seedling that can overwinter. Then I’ll put the small pots outside in my cold frame winter. In mid-spring, I can plant them in large containers (at least 30cm high and wide) – just one plant per container to give them plenty of space. Hopefully, I can harvest them in early June next year.
Good luck If you are entering any of your vegetables in a local gardening show. I’m looking forward to seeing all the produce at the ‘Incredible and Edible’ section of the Harrogate Autumn Flower Show at Newby Hall in Ripon, Yorkshire on 16 – 18th September.