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Autumn Growing

The cold weather is setting in, but now is not the time to abandon your veg patch. There are still fruits and vegetables that you can grow. Here are five of them.

1. Lettuce

Lettuce is actually a great winter crop! Hardy varieties such as lambs lettuce can cope with the cold temperatures. If you have a greenhouse this will provide an ideal growing environment, but there are varieties that can be grown outside.

2. Fruit

Now is the time to plant fruit trees, rhubarb crowns, raspberry canes and strawberry runners. If you have limited space choose varieties suited for containers. It’s good to bear in mind the bare-root trees will also be cheaper than potted ones.

3. Alliums

Autumn onion sets, shallots and garlic are the perfect veg. They’re easy to grow, low maintenance and they don’t take up much space. Try to plant them in full or partial sun and give them plenty of space to grow, planting them 15 cm apart.

Cover with horticultural mesh or fleece to prevent any pests. They will be ready to harvest by next July. Enjoy straight away or store – they’ll keep for several months.

4. Green Manures

These quick-growing plants can help suppress weeds, prevent soil erosion, and improve the soil. There are a number of different varieties available, all providing different benefits.

When I worked on an Organic Farm we always planted Green Manures to help improve the soil before putting in our next crop. I’ve never used them on my veg patch though. Simply follow packet instructions, sow directly into your beds and leave for several weeks, before digging them into the soil. They’re an easy and cheap way to improve your veg beds for next season.

5. Legumes

Amazingly the humble broad bean can cope with temperatures as low as -10c! Pick a hardy variety and make sure that they’re sheltered from wind. Sow seeds 20cm apart in double rows so that the plants will support each other a bit. You can use stakes to support them as they get taller. Your crop should be ready to harvest the following May/June.