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Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Autumn on the allotment


Although we have been having something of an Indian Summer, this Autumn, Winter is just around the corner its way the days are getting shorter, and it wont be long before we get the first frosts ... so it is easy to relax and imagine that there is little to grow at this time of year. Think again! There's actually lots of preparation and plants to get started in October and November. So what vegetables can be sown at this time of the year in the UK? 

Garlic
Of course it is possible to start your garlic in the the Spring and some varieies being perfectly happy being planted in early spring, late Autumn through to November is by far the best time. 

Garlic really does need a good dose of frost as this cold will encourage the bulbs to split into cloves. And whilst planting them you can think back to the sunnier times in June and July when you were harvesting them. 

For a guide to growing garlic, check out our previous post. 

Onions & shallots
By now we are almost as late as we can go for planting onions or shallot sets in before Winter really gets going. It is best not to let this job fall into November. Personally my favourites are the Japanese Sensyhu onions as these are nice and hardy as well as being pretty easy to raise (a perfect combination). 

Broad Beans 
Typically most people will advise you to sow your broad beans late Winter to Spring between February and May, so why would we be advising growing them in November? The reason is to extend the growing and therefore the cropping season. If one just relies on your Spring sowings then you would expect to be harvesting your produce between July and August. However by having an Autumn sowing as well you'll then be able to have an additional crop in June as well.

Peas
Exactly the same advice as with your broad beans, start some early and you will be able to get a crop earlier as well potentially up to 6 weeks earlier.

Other jobs
This time of year is also the perfect time to get beds ready for the spring, adding compost and digging this in so the worms have plenty of time to get this well integrated into the soil. If you dont have you own bins then consider buying compost in bulk bags such as those offered by Compost Direct (Veggie Gold) is a formulated blend of compost, that uses well rotted manure mixed with top soil, so that it produces a rich fertile soil with a high organic matter content making it ideal for creating vegetable patches and raised beds or as a top dressing to your existing beds.

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