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Summer Seed Sowing

The Summer Sowing Guide
for the second sowing time of the year

People often ask us what they should be sowing from June on through the summer.

So, we've tried to list here the main things that we'll be sowing from midsummer onwards into the autumn for a good supply of vegetables right through the winter and into next spring.

Don't be put off summer / autumn sowings if you don't have a polytunnel or greenhouse, most of these veggies will grow outdoors quite happily outside in most of the country.

Any protection you can offer will help - mini plastic and fleece tunnels are an easy modern alternative to traditional cloches. Often just keeping cold winds off your plants is all that is needed to give you a really successful crop.

ORIENTAL GREENS - milder greens for salads, or tasty mustard greens
There are a whole range of remarkably cold hardy oriental greens. They are ideal to keep your plot going through the depths of winter, particularly jf you don't have the space or time for traditional winter veg like brussels.

Many are good both in salads and cooked - try Pak Choi, Mizuna, 'Pe Tsai' Chinese Cabbage, Mibuna, Tatsoi and Mispoona, all of which can be sown from the end of June through to end September (you can keep on sowing through into the winter if you have a polytunnel or greenhouse)

Mustard greens are even more hardy than the milder greens - which means that they will keep on growing new leaves even in the worst of weather. Raw they are spicy - so although its nice to put small quantities raw in salads, they're mostly used cooked. When you cook them the heat disappears, leaving a rich, full flavour, with just a little spicy zing. They are especially useful because they grow so well in cooler weather.

BUNCHING ONIONS
Bunching Onions are MUCH easier to grow from seed than normal onions. They're really quick and useful, providing lots of greenstuff early in the Spring Gap when there's not much else available. Sow them after midsummer for a winter/spring crop

BULBING OR ‘FLORENCE’ FENNEL
Not everyone realises that Fennel is best sown after midsummer as its much less likely to bolt than if its sown in spring. Sow up to the middle of August. The plants will stand up to Christmas or beyond in milder areas.

KALE
Kales are great for baby leaves (salads & cooked) in autumn, and then left to overwinter for delicious greens through to the following April.
You can sow kale 2 ways:
1) in autumn in a tunnel - for tender baby leaves. We particularly recommend Nero de Toscana for this use, although all the kales will do well.
2) outdoors before early August - for hardy overwintering plants. Try Red Ursa for a very good hardy variety that also makes delicious flowering shoots in spring

LETTUCE
Winter lettuce are particularly cold-hardy, selected for sowing after mid-summer, for harvest in autumn - and with a bit of protection, on into winter. Ideal if you have a polytunnel and want winter salads - or outdoors under a cloche or mini-tunnel. Try Winter Marvel which can be sown right through into November.
Also keep on successional sowing summer lettuce varieties in July - August to give you a wide range of salads in Autumn.

OTHER SALADS
Land Cress (Barbarea verna) is great in salads but can also be eaten cooked as 'creasy greens' or as a pretty much identical substitute for watercress in soup. It is sown in autumn & grown over winter, its a great addition to winter salads!
Also try 'Bianca Riccia da Taglio' Salad Endive, which is hardier than lettuce, and has pretty pale green leaves with a good non-bitter flavour, it can be sown spring, summer or autumn.
And don't forget plenty of mizuna, chinese cabbage and mispoona, which will give you endless delicious salads through the worst of the winter

COOKING RADISHES
These are a fantastic root vegetable that everyone should try. They bear no resemblance to a breakfast radish, this is a large root - tennis ball sized and upwards - which you use in soups, stews and stir-fries. They are also great eaten raw grated or sliced finely into salads, with a mild zing to them. Try Weiner Runder Kohlschwarzer which is delicious in a stir fry, or used like a swede or turnip in soups and stews. We find them less fussy than either of those two vegetables, and sow them from July to Sept, for pulling all winter.

BEETROOT
Beetroot are ideal for sowing outdoors or in a tunnel in July and August for pulling as tender baby beet in autumn.
Also, don't forget that you can store your main crop of beetroot for winter use by pulling in autumn, twisting off the leaves, and packing into dry sawdust. Make sure that the roots don't touch, and they should store through until well into the new year.

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