Now is a vital time of year to start looking at sowing a few things in order to have earlier crops next year than would be possible from a spring sowing, alongside things that traditionally are planted over winter.

Now is the perfect time to start to sow Broad Beans. Traditionally these are a crop that it is seen as being easy to sow in early autumn and guarantees a crop that is ready by late May or early June, rather than a month at least later from a spring sown crop. Broad beans are also great to sow as they are legumes and so act as a green manure as well as providing those wonderful beans that are so delicious picked young and added to risottos, pasta dishes and used for houmus and even just as steamed beans! They are easy to sow, with the only thing needed being a weed free patch of soil and a packet of bean seeds that are one of the varieties that are hardy enough to overwinter, such as Aquadulche, which is easily available at Garden Centres. Then the seeds just need to be sown approximately 6 inches apart, with rows around a foot apart, and they should start popping their shoots through within 3-4 weeks. By sowing in October they will have enough time to establish themselves as good plants before the really cold patches of winter are upon us.

The other things to be aware of planting now are onions, shallots and garlic. Traditionally these are sown on the shortest day of the year and harvested on the longest day, but in reality the sooner you get them in, the sooner they become established and the sooner you get a crop! It’s also worth ┬áremembering that often on the shortest day the ground is sodden or frozen so it’s a good insurance policy to get them in earlier. Although onions are cheap enough to buy in the shops, there are far more varieties of shallot available as sets in the garden centre than there usually are in the supermarket, and the same can be said of garlic, so it’s worth taking up the room for them. Shallots and onions are both grown from sets, which are tiny bulbs of the final plant and garlic is grown from individual cloves from a garlic bulb. Pop them into weed free soil in an area that won’t flood, approximately 6 inches apart for onions and 8 inches for shallots and garlic, and leave them to get on with it.

It’s also time to sow sweet peas now but you don’t ewant to know about ornamentals!! But next time we’ll talk what can be sown in the next few weeks under protection.

Scarlet Flowered Broad Beans, a heritage variety

Scarlet Flowered Broad Beans, a heritage variety

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