Gardens Archive - AUTUMN 2003
Summer has drawn to a close, we may be still fortunate enough to have a few nice days, but the day length has shortened considerably and the nights are distinctly chilly.
Many summer salad crops will continue to grow at this time of year, though it is the time to think of alternative salad ingredients. If you are willing to be adventurous you can still continue to harvest salad leaves through autumn into winter; Lettuce Cocarde, Cerize, Parella, Lingua di canario, Radichetta and the Italien mixed salad Misticanza are most reliable this late in the season. The Japanese Mizuna, Mibuna, and the Pak Chois , Ryokusai,Tatsai,Joi choi and pueblo make another interesting addition at this time of year. The flavoursome Italien flat leaf parsley is well worth sowing this time of the year, although as with all parsley germination can be slow, boiling water over the seed drill usually works!
American land cress, a very useful alternative to watercress can be grown throughout the year, but is at its most useful through the winter months. Late Autumn is the season for Chicories, Endives and radicchios, though they have a reputation for being bitter a few days under an upturned plantpot and soaking in salty water for an hour or so improves the flavour. The Chicory Pain du Sucre is the most versatile, being useful as a salad ingredient and larger leaves can be wilted along with mizuna, pak choi and beetroot leaves to create an alternative winter green.
If you had enough space to sow carrots and beetroot in early august they can make a useful addition, young beetroot leaves can be added to your salad and larger ones wilted for greens. If the weather has been favourable small beetroot, either the traditional red, yellow or pink varieties will be produced. Try steaming the whole plant as an alternative vegetable. Do not expect large carrots but nothing beats the flavour of fresh carrots however small. The yellow varieties yellowstone and the Jugoslavian Juane du Daubs are particularly good this late in the year.
If you are a fan of rocket there are numerous varieties to try through the winter months and do not forget the flowers with their sweet nutty flavour. Halcyon seeds now produce mixed packets designed for autumn and winter sowing giving you a variety of edible leaves throughout the winter months. Hope you are adventurous enough to try a few varieties in your own garden, tub or window box.
Good growing - Andrew