Spring may be long gone but you haven’t yet missed the boat when it comes to growing your own food at home.
It’s true that some plants like tomatoes, peppers and courgettes need a long time to reach fruition, but there are lots of vegetables you can still start from seed and harvest before the year is out. Here are some of the most productive plants that can be sown this month.
Make the most of your space
As the cost of food rises, it can be tempting to think you can grow it all at home, and some websites and organisations may lead you to believe this is possible. For most of us in London, however, being self-sufficient in fruit and veg from our gardens alone is fantasy.
There just isn’t enough space (unless you are lucky enough to have access to an allotment and the time to maintain it).
But you can maximise whatever outside space is available to you, even if it’s just a window box.
Plants like nasturtium, with edible, peppery flowers and leaves, can still be sown at the edge of containers and borders where they will trail. Climbing beans (runner beans and some french beans) can be grown where you have a bit more space against a wall with a trellis or support from a framework.
Grow what you can’t find in store
Knowing what to grow when space is on the short side can be difficult. A good way to make decisions is to think about what is readily available from the shops. If you can get it reasonably cheaply and it’s always there, growing a small quantity of it can be disheartening. Instead, grow the food you love to eat but can rarely find buy.
Florence fennel, chicory and pak choi can all be sown now for late summer and early autumn harvests. If we get a week of cooler weather, sow lettuce seeds on the surface of the soil (for germination they require light, but don’t like it too hot).
Don’t just go for a cos or iceberg lettuce, choose some unusual salad leaves that pack a punch, like wild rocket, mizuna or curly endive. Most salads will grow without full sun, ideal for a shady side return if you’re short of space.
Look to the future
If your garden isn’t paved, you’ve also got time to squeeze in some root crops like carrots, beetroot and turnips, as well as kale and winter lettuce, for harvesting in the colder months. It’s the ultimate in delayed gratification: six months from now you could be putting your own veg on the table for that festive celebration.
Try these suppliers
The Real Seed Catalogue grows its own organic seeds and has a great list of what to sow now. Try its Cima Di Rapa ‘San Marzano’ quick growing broccoli (realseeds.co.uk).