Parsley, chives, coriander and chervil – not a new song suggestion for Simon and Garfunkel – are excellent herbs to sow now for quick results. Sow some outside and some in pots to bring in when the weather gets colder. You can also take cuttings of shrubby herbs like sage, rosemary and thyme for the windowsill too. And if you can’t be bothered to grow more herbs, now is a good time to preserve some of them by chopping them up and freezing (in water or oil) in ice cube trays. Keep in the freezer until needed and just drop them into your cooking.
Early harvests next year
Spring Cabbages taste sweeter and fresher than the winter versions and you might just be in time to sow some if you’re quick. Try ‘Duncan’ or ‘Spring Hero’. Cabbages sown at this time of the year will still need netting (or vigilantly checking) against caterpillars, which will be active until the end of October, when the pigeons take over. Both these pests can decimate a crop within a few days.
Broad beans and peas can be sown now and overwintered under cloches. Growth will be slow through the winter, but will speed up again in early spring, which will mean that you’ll be harvesting fresh peas and broad beans about a month earlier than those sown in the spring. Good overwintering varieties are broad bean ‘Aquadulce Claudia’ and pea ‘Feltham First’. You can also sow pea tips to add to salads at any time of the year.
Onions and garlic
Plant onion and garlic sets in the autumn for early summer harvests next year. ‘Sets’ are tiny onion bulbs that will quietly expand into full-sized onions through the winter and spring, ready for harvesting in early summer next year. Yes, you do only get an onion for an onion, but they’re easy to grow and once harvested will store well too. Garlic bulbs must be split into cloves and, planted in the autumn, each clove will form a new garlic bulb by next summer.
The summer might be ending, but it’s certainly not all over in the garden yet. So, if you’re still standing, pick up that trowel, put on your boots and let’s stay out there.