This month there is a long list of sowings to keep your soil busy and productive. For most of these crops, sowing early in the month is best for outdoor autumn picking, later in the month for indoor winter harvests.
Turnips are quick and easy to grow, tender when picked young and will stand the winter outdoors as they grow bigger, a sweet addition to winter stews.
Bulb fennel is a really tricky crop needing lots of space, fertility and moisture, and will go to seed if it gets half a chance, yet worth it for its exotic taste. We usually grow a few in our hoop house for Christmas.
Our autumn lettuce often succumb to root aphid so we grow lots of radicchio, variety Palla Rossa. Growing it is easy, give it 13” spacings for big hearts. Endive Scarola is productive, best to regularly pick young leaves. True spinach will stand the winter outdoors, the best variety for overwintering is Medania.
There are lots of other ideas, depending if you like spicy leaves in your salad or stir fry. Rocket, oriental leaves such as red frills mustard and mizuna, coriander and chervil. If your rocket goes to seed, you can cut it off at root level and it should re-establish.
On existing crops, jobs include pinching out the tops of cordon tomatoes, and reducing the number of trusses if blight is a worry. Hopefully you have already taken off the lower leaves to help air circulate, as blight establishes in stagnant air.
Pick carrots only when windy, raining or at twilight when root fly are not on the wing, and carefully draw soil up round the root tops to stop flies laying eggs there, and prevent root tops browning.
Thin celeriac plants to 15” apart if you wish for decent sized roots, and keep them well watered. Water courgettes too, to keep them setting fruit and reduce mildew
August is a dread month for most brassicas as caterpillars hatch out. We grow our cabbages under Enviromesh, but you may prefer asking your children to pick eggs and caterpillars off by hand, or squirting twice with Bacillus bacteria. And how do fleas travel? They itch-hike.