House & Home
Grow your own
During August your garden is still at its summer best, with plants and flowers flourishing in the good weather. You might think this is too late in the year to start planting vegetables, herbs and salad, but there are many varieties that can be sown and grown late in summer – plus, it’s a great time to get organised for autumn and winter harvests, as well as keeping some crops coming through into early spring. So, dig out your trowel and watering can and give growing your own a go.
Did you know? According to an old English folk tale, parsley will grow best in a household where
the wife wears the trousers!
In the greenhouse or indoors, sow winter lettuce in module trays to plant out towards the end of August. Lettuces are hardier than they look and can be overwintered for picking as leaves from April through to June, giving a long season of harvest from just one sowing.
Overwintered spinach grows beautifully sweet leaves and can survive the harshest frosts. Sow in the second and third weeks of August; harvest from November and March.
Sowing wild rocket in early August will make plentiful leaves before winter, and then lie dormant. New growth in spring offers two months of harvests. Sow in late August if using salad rocket; harvest both from October.
Swiss chard can be sown in drills now for autumn ‘baby leaves’ or left to overwinter for a spring crop.
Sow outdoors for use as an autumn salad leaf (they’re great in sandwiches). This vibrant red leafy veg is a relative of chicory and has a bitter taste.
Radishes are very quick to crop, being ready to eat in as little as four weeks. Make direct sowings this month for an autumn harvest, or try sowing winter radishes, which can be left in the ground and dug up as required, or lifted in November and stored.
Winter-hardy spring onions such as ‘White Lisbon’ and ‘Performer’ can be direct sown now. Onions don’t germinate well in temperatures regularly above 20°C, so sowing outdoors in rows is advisable. If sowing in module trays, up to 10 seeds in each should give a worthwhile clump next spring.
Finish planting out winter cabbages early in the month – be sure to allow about 45cm between plants as they get quite big.
Plant summer or autumn cauliflowers outside early in the month for an autumn harvest – the perfect time for roast dinners with plenty of homemade cauliflower cheese!
Finish planting out kale for winter and spring cropping. Kale tolerates cold weather better than most other brassicas, although it should be netted against birds if possible.
There’s still time to make direct sowings of fast-maturing carrot varieties such as ‘Adelaide’, just make sure these are in the ground by the end of August at the latest and be wary of pesky carrot fly.
You can sow this hardy biennial herb in seed trays to grow in the greenhouse or indoors throughout the winter, or plant the established herb into its final position in a pot or raised bed outdoors in early August.
This leafy herb may be a bit like Marmite, but it is easy-to-grow and can be sown from spring to autumn. Water regularly and harvest when needed.
Dill hates having its roots disturbed or being transplanted, so sow in-situ, either into pots or the ground where you want it to grow. These feathery plants may need support from canes, as strong winds can flatten them.
Sow this mild aniseed-flavoured herb directly into prepared soil outdoors. Plant in a shady, cool spot and water regularly. Be aware that chervil is a prolific self-seeder, so it might pay to keep it in pots if you don’t want more of it!