August—the time of plenty (sometimes even too much if good organisation and planning hasn’t been taken into account). Successional sowings are the key to managing outputs from the vegetable garden, but also to ensure the highest quality of produce is maintained throughout the summer. By staggering sowings you can avoid having too much of one thing at one time. It also ensures a consistent supply of produce from the garden through the summer months rather than being in an all or nothing situation. Lettuce and other salad leaves are a classic example of this, where it will run to seed relatively quickly during summer, so sowing every few weeks will ensure a steady supply. We sow six lots of lettuce between the middle of February and the end of June which gives us harvests from early April until sometime in October normally. Sowing in mid-February, mid-March, end of April, mid-May, early mid-June and then finally at the end of June ensures that as one planting begins to go to seed the next succession is planted and ready to harvest. We stagger radish sowings about every two weeks from early March until mid-May which means that we have a continual supply during the spring and early summer, whilst spring onions are sown from mid-January to mid-April to provide bunches until July (when they tend to get rust where we are). We also successionally sow peas, beetroot, fennel, chard, coriander and dill amongst other things—all for the same reasons—to ensure a consistent supply.
One new crop that we have tried this year is Aztec broccoli (also called Huauzontle—literally meaning hairy amaranth and part of the Chenopod family—amaranth, beets, chard and fat hen). It is as easy to grow as fat hen and very productive. We sowed two batches—in the middle of March and end of April, sowing around 3 seeds per module of a plant tray, then planting out at around 30cm along the row, with rows spaced about 60cm apart. We started harvesting from early July. You can simply snap off the top 3-6 inches of flowering stem, and it just keeps sending out sideshoots and can be harvested until around mid-October. As the nights start to cool the leaves start turning red too. It can be blanched like any green and has a very spinachy taste to it. We will certainly be growing more next year, and thanks to the Real Seed Catalogue for continuing to provide us with exciting new things to try.
WHAT TO SOW THIS MONTH: endive, winter purslane, salad mustards (best sown direct) such as Golden Streaks, Purple Frills, rocket, land cress, chard, leaf radish, texsel greens, lettuce, fennel (early in the month), broad beans (for tips in salads) & peashoots, autumn radish and turnips, Chinese cabbage and pak choi (early in the month), parsley (for overwintering in polytunnel/glasshouse), corn salad & spring onions & spring cabbage (all late in month for overwintering)
WHAT TO PLANT THIS MONTH:
OUTSIDE: fennel, beetroot, lettuce, chard, kohl rabi, chicory, salad leaves: buckshorn plantain, salad burnet, chervil, endive, turnips and winter radish (sown direct), pak choi and chinese cabbage
INSIDE: summer purslane, goosefoot
OTHER IMPORTANT TASKS THIS MONTH:
Keeping on top of taking old crops out and planting with new crops is still important throughout August. There is still plenty of time to get late crops in the ground, and as we roll into September it can almost be like a second spring (with the benefit of already warm soil)
Generally it is a time to harvest—keeping on top of harvesting courgettes and beans will keep them going and mean that they don’t get too big or too stringy.