Sunday, 10 July 2016

Preparing for Autumn already??

So far we have not really had anything resembling a proper Summer, but July is nearly half-way through already, and it is time to start thinking about crops for the cooler (!) weather in Autumn.

As I have written previously, endives and chicories never do well in my garden during June, July and August (I hesitate to call them "the Summer months"), so I try to organise for them to be ready in September and October. Some varieties of chicory (Grumolo, for instance) are very cold-tolerant, but most of them are better harvested before any real Winter weather arrives.

Photo from 2014

I sowed three different types of radicchio (red chicory) on 15th June. One lot didn't germinate at all, but in fairness, it was pretty old seed. It was a pack of Franchi's "Rossa di Verona" from Seeds of Italy. These packs are huge - many hundreds of seeds - and it is always tempting to keep them for too long. One other type ("Palla Rossa" from Unwins) only produced four seedlings out of about 50 sown, (again not new seed), but the third one (a fresh pack of "Rossa di Verona" from Simply Seed) germinated really well. This just goes to show that using fresh seeds is strongly recommended!

Anyway, this week I pricked out 16 nice little radicchio seedlings, which is plenty for my requirements.

I'll grow them on in these 4-inch pots for another 2 or 3 weeks, and then plant them in the Salads bed, where they will take over from the lettuce.

I have also sown a seed-tray of mixed endives. At present there is nothing to see - just a tray of compost - so no photo.

Here's another investment for Autumn:

You're probably thinking "What the hell is that?". Well, it's a tub of compost / soil in which I have sown Chantenay carrots. I am trying a technique that I hope will improve germination: the tub is covered with some hessian sacking (aka burlap), which I will try to keep damp at all times, so that the surface of the compost does not dry out. This will hopefully make it more likely that the seeds will germinate. Note to self: remember to lift the hessian at least once a day to check for germination!

I know it's a bit late in the year to sow carrots, but my reasoning is that since we got off to a slow start in the Spring, maybe our "warm" weather will go on a bit longer than normal  - into October, perhaps?

Meanwhile, having planted out my PSB earlier this week, I have also put in the last of my Leeks. As I described yesterday, my main crop Leeks have been submerged by the huge leaves of the Parsnips growing next to them, so it looks as if the spares will have to become the main crop now.

Newly-planted Leek, next to Broad Bean stumps


  1. Always pays to plan well ahead otherwise as you say the weeks slip by

  2. Thinking of Autumn is very impressive :) I'm still struggling with Summer, or is it still Spring!

  3. The hessian idea is interesting. Probably not one we could use at the allotment as we don't go there every day.

  4. For carrots a plastic bag over the top, with well watered compost will create a warm humid atmosphere where the moisture can't dry out plus you can see germination. Just remove the plastic bag every few days to get fresh air in. Works a treat.

    1. That's what I normally do with small pots, but couldn't find a plastic bag big enough for the 35-litre pot! :)

  5. In my head I know that fresh seed is best, but the side of me that hates wasting anything will always chance it with older seed & most of the time, it works out ok.

    And I noticed that nice, deep hole you have for the leeks - your post a while back when you talked about using your dibble inspired me to get one & it's sitting in the tool bin waiting for it's first use.


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