Organic September: Vegetables to Plant in Autumn
Days draw in, air becomes crisp, streets are carpeted with crunchy leaves; Autumn is upon us. Seasonal change is one thing I love about England. As the days turn colder, it allows us to embrace new temperatures with cosier fabrics, spend evenings in front of roaring fires rather than outdoors and fill ourselves with heartier, warmer meals in preparation for winter. And as the weather changes across England, so does our produce. Eating organically and seasonally is something we think highly of here at Thought – not only is it better for you, but it’s tastier and better for the environment too. And if you can, growing your own produce is even better in all of these things. So why not try it? We’ve put together a list of seasonal vegetables to plant in autumn, to help get you going.
Organic September: Seasonal Vegetables to Plant in Autumn
There are many winter vegetables that will flourish outdoors throughout these colder months. Here are our top five vegetables to plant in autumn, along with some helpful how-to tips:
Spring onions are easy to grow and are fairly fast-growing. If you sow them in early autumn, they should be ready to harvest by early spring. When growing through the colder months, always use a winter-hardy variety. Spring onions like rich, well-drained soil; sow the seeds thinly, around 1/2in deep and 4in apart. Harvest the spring onions when they are still young – around 6in tall and the bulbs are around 1/2-1in across.
Onions and shallots
Onions are so easy to grow, and essentially look after themselves throughout winter. They have a long growing season, so if planted now, won’t be ready until next summer. If growing from a seed, sow 1/2in deep, and around 8in apart. You can thin the crop by removing the weaker seedlings. Make sure you stop watering or feeding the plants once the onions have swollen, and remove any mulch or soil to expose the bulb to the sun. You can harvest the onions once the foliage starts to turn yellow. Shallots are becoming increasingly popular too, with their sweet, subtle flavour. You can plant these nearer December or even after Christmas, ready for spring.
As long as the ground isn’t too hard or water logged, garlic can be planted from autumn until February. Similarly to onions, garlic is super easy to grow and has a long growing season – if planted now it won’t be ready until next summer. Plant the cloves individually, at around 2.5in deep for heavy soils and less for lighter soils, always ensuring that it is at least an inch deep. They should be planted about a foot apart too. As they cast no shade, garlic is vulnerable to being smothered by weeds, so make sure you remove them regularly. Harvest the garlic once the leaves of the plant turn yellow.
Spring cabbage takes up more room in your garden than other crops. Plant 12in apart each way and earth up the soil around their stems after they have started growing to help them against the cold. Alternatively, plant individual seeds in modular trays and let them grow for 3-4 weeks before planting outdoors – this can give them a better chance of surviving. If it gets icy in colder areas, fleece can help to protect your seedlings. Ensure to thin out the seedlings to allow space between each plant at all times. Spring cabbages are smaller than other varieties, and can be harvested before they run to seed. Harvest cabbage by cutting the stem with a sharp knife close to soil level.
Broad beans and peas
Broad beans and peas can be sown from late September through to mid-November. It’s good to sow early so that plants can establish over the winter and then flower and fruit earlier. Sow seeds in well-drained soil, in a sunny position and never in cold or wet soil. Many broad bean and pea plants can withstand harsh conditions, although you might need to fleece young plants during hard frosts or snow. If the plants are in an exposed position and therefore grow too tall (above a foot) over winter, they can wave around and split. So if necessary make sure you use canes or sticks and string to support them.
For great tips on organic growing, head to Garden Organic to learn about soil management and how to deal with weeds or pests!
You may also love reading our DIY Bird Feeder post from Clare.
Do you have any tips on vegetables to plant in autumn? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @wearethought.