Vegetables you can sow in late summer


Many who had their gardens and allotments flooded in the summer of 2007 will have lost much or all of their vegetable crop. Even in areas that weren't flooded, tomatoes and potatoes have succumbed to blight and the explosion in the slug and snail population has reduced promising crops to sodden heaps or ragged stumps.


We can be forgiven for feeling gloomy about it, but don't forget that there is still time to plant a variety of vegetables that can be harvested within weeks, as well as for crops in spring. Here is a guide to what you can sow in July, August (as well as one or two in September) that will give you some fresh vegetables throughout autumn, winter and into next spring.


Some less hardy crops may be better sown in containers so that these can be moved into a more sheltered area should the weather suddenly turn cold.


Calabrese can be sown outside until the end of July for a late autumn crop, or you can sow in an unheated greenhouse during August or September for a crop in early spring. Success will depend on the weather for the rest of the year, but it's worth a go.


Sow from now to September at 10-day intervals for steady supply. Baby carrots can be picked within four weeks. Crops sown after mid-May should avoid the first generation of carrot fly but, in areas where it is a problem, cover the crop with horticultural fleece.


Chard can be sown until mid August, or end of August if it is undercover. Baby leaves can be picked at three to four weeks. It may overwinter in mild areas, but protect with fleece if you expect the weather to turn cold. Try a colourful variety such as 'Bright Lights' which will give you stems in white, red, yellow and orange.


Sow until end July. If you're in August already, you may as well give it a go if the weather is good. You can cut baby leaves after 3-4 weeks or wait until mature and harvest the whole head. Said to be an acquired taste as some people find it bitter.


Sow to end of August with repeat sowings a couple of weeks apart for plenty of leaves. You can pick leaves at 2-4 weeks or grow on for seeds. Essential ingredient in many Indian, Oriental and Mexican dishes.

French beans

Sow French beans in July for a late crop of dwarf beans. In mild areas you may be able to start picking by the mid to end of September. Grow in pots so that they can moved under cover if the weather turns cold.


Sow Kale under cover in autumn for baby leaves after six weeks, or outside for an over-wintering crop.

Oriental greens

Sow Oriental greens outside until the end August. Pick young leaves at 2 weeks or more for salads, or leave the plants to become bigger for cooking. Home grown greens will give far superior flavour to anything you can buy in the shops - and they're cheap and easy to grow. You can buy seed mixes at garden centres or try Pak Choi,

Chinese Kale, Tatsoi Tah Tsai, Kaillan White, Choy Sum and Yukina Savoy.


The spicier mustard greens are hardier than the milder types, like Pak Choi, and though they lose most of the spiciness in cooking they have excellent flavour. Growing them later in the year may well avoid some of the trouble caused by flea beetles.


Peas can be sown until the end of July, but probably no later than mid-August. Sow a quick, 'early' variety such as 'Douce', 'Provence' or 'Meteor'.


If you lost your potatoes to blight this summer, try them again now in containers and you'll have fresh potatoes for Christmas dinner. Tubers planted as late as September will give you a Christmas crop, though you may well have new potatoes by October. Late cropping varieties include 'Carlingford', 'Charlotte', 'Maris Peer' and 'Nicola'.


Winter radishes - the large roots sometimes called mooli -  are not much grown in the UK but are popular in other countries for stir frying, salads and pickling. There are several winter radishes that can be started now, including 'China Rose' and 'Black Spanish'.

Salad leaves

Salad leaves are quick and easy to grow and if you have a greenhouse, you can keep some going all year. If the soil temperature is above 25C the seeds won't want to germinate and it is better to sow in the evening into well watered soil and keep them shaded with a light horticultural fleece for a couple of days. Sow until the end of July or into August if under cover.

Spinach (perpetual)

Sow spinach from now until mid-August. Keep sheltered and pick young leaves for salad and stir fry.

Spring cabbage

Sow spring cabbage in July/August, transplant in September/October. Pick in early spring the following year.

Spring onions

Sow winter varieties, such as 'Ramond', from August onwards and pick in 4-6 weeks.

  Copyright Miranda Hodgson 2007


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