‘Do it now’: Monty Don shares what vegetable seeds to sow now – ‘grows very fast’
Gardeners’ World: Monty Don announces end of series
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Discussing autumn gardening with Lucy Hall, editor at BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine, Monty Don explained that although the “key” to a successful autumn vegetable patch is planning ahead in summer, some crops can still be grown in November. This includes lettuce and rocket which the Gardeners’ World host said “grows very fast”.
Monty Don said: “The key to success to a vegetable patch in autumn is planning ahead in spring.
“In other words, it’s getting late to get a decent autumn crop because everybody thinks the peak of the vegetable year is summer, it’s not.
“The peak of the vegetable year is September, even early October with climate change.
“What I would say is all the tender crops do very well in autumn.
“October is often quite a mild month and the vegetable garden can stay very productive well into October and sometimes even November whereas 50 years ago when I was learning my vegetable growing trade, if you didn’t have hard frost in September, you’d consider yourself lucky.”
The exert explained that for most crops to be ready by autumn, July and August are the best times to sow.
He added: “Once you get to the second week of August, you’re running against the weather and the light…it’s the falling light that’s your enemy more than anything else at all.
“The other thing is, I would invest in some kind of cloches, they make a huge difference.”
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Monty explained that cloches are not ideal for use in the middle of winter, but great for when the frost starts to arrive.
“Or if you get really heavy rain, they protect them,” he said.
Monty added: “They’re as useful for protecting against the rain as anything else, even if it’s homemade…that’s particularly useful in October and November and again in February, March and April.”
A garden cloche also helps to retain warmth and humidity, helping to protect the crop from animals as well as pests.
For those looking to grow vegetables last minute, the Gardener’s World host said to sow seeds now.
Monty said: “It’s worth, particularly if you live in the south, it’s worth sowing some lettuce or some rocket.
“Rocket grows very fast and will deal with cold weather…your problem is not with them surviving, it’s of them germinating.
“But do it now, you’re listening to me speak, go away when we finish and do it now.
“The sooner you do it, the greater the chance of some kind of autumn harvest.
“Having said that, if it germinates but it’s too small to harvest, don’t pull it up, leave it there and it’ll start to grow again next spring in February when the days get longer, that’s certainly worth doing.
“If you can buy young plants of brassicas, and gardening centres do sell them and nurseries do sell them, get them, plant them out now.”
The expert recommended sowing lettuce seeds on a fortnightly basis for a continuous crop.
He said that this stops the chance of food surplus as well as having back up crops in case some do not germinate.
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