With the end of summer in sight, August is a time to be strategic with your planting. Fast-growing edibles make the most of the remaining warmth and sunshine and extend your harvest season. Hardy, winter-tolerant plants still have time to establish before temperatures drop. Here are a few reliable varieties to sow at this time of year.
Cress is often grown as a microgreen indoors all year round (which is a great way to teach children about germination), but as a hardy annual it can also be successfully sown outdoors in autumn. In either case, lightly cover the seeds with soil and water well. Seedlings can be snipped as soon as they emerge, or outdoor plants can be let mature for larger leaves and edible flowers. Their mild, peppery taste is a great addition to sandwiches and salads!
Quick-growing crops like rocket are a great way to make the most of the remaining warm weather. Sow thinly outdoors in shallow rows and you’ll have plenty of leaves to harvest before winter. Cultivated rocket stops growing during the colder months while wild rocket can be harvested up until November.
Another approach in August is to sow winter-yielding varieties that will produce throughout the cold months. Winter cabbages such as ‘Winter Jewel’ are a good example. Allow about 45 cm between plants as they will grow large. Planting them now will give them time to get growing before the temperature drops.
Viola tricolour can be sown now for an early display next year. Seeds can overwinter for a head start when the weather warms up in spring. Viola tricolour flowers in shades of purple, cream, and yellow all through the summer. Flowers are edible and regular picking encourages more to bloom. Plants can also be left to go to seed to return year by year.
Plenty of salad crops can manage outdoors during winter. Lamb’s lettuce (also known as Corn salad) is especially hardy. Sow seeds outside into 1-2cm deep rows. Thinning is not vital, but allowing 3-5 cm between plants will result in larger leaves. Water during dry spells and keep weed free, and you’ll have leaves to pick right through until spring.
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