Most of us are winding down now for the growing season and are considering the end of the harvest and preparing for the colder months to come. However, do not stop sowing just yet. Throughout August you can still plant a range of vegetables that will be hardy enough to survive the tail end of the season and, with just a little protection from your polytunnel, can see you right through the winter. Here are five vegetables that you can still sow outside in August, direct into your vegetable beds:
The year’s final crop of chard can be planted now to provide a tasty autumn food source. Chard can cope with diminishing light levels and is a great crop for shady spots. Bright lights chard will also make a colourful addition to your beds and borders as other colours in the garden array begin to fade into the autumn.
This alien-looking vegetable grows quickly and will thrive in the cooler temperatures of the end of the summer and the beginning of autumn. You can eat the leaves of this brassica and are also likely to be able to harvest small, golf-ball sized kohlrabi before the weather gets too cold.
This is one of the hardy, leafy vegetables that can be grown in August or even early September and will provide you will a healthy leaf vegetable throughout the autumn and perhaps even up until Christmas. In Scotland and the north of England, some protection will be required when the temperatures drop.
Japanese onions, unlike other onions, are specially adapted to withstand the winter cold. Sow them now and they will be able to survive the winter throughout the UK. Now is the time to sow sets so as to enjoy a harvestable crop by May or June next year, far before other onions will be ready.
Leafy oriental vegetables germinate and grow quickly and are less prone to bolting this late in the season. If you sow some this month then you can be harvesting leaves by October and can pick more in March. Simply give plants a little protection from frost and if slugs are a problem where you live, from being munched by those pests by covering with cloches (plastic drinks bottles work well).
There are some other vegetables to grow in your polytunnel this month, especially in the south of the UK. Keep sowing and growing now and you can continue to gain a yield from your garden over the winter and can even avoid the ‘hungry gap’ next year. Check out our growing guides to learn more about growing food in your polytunnel to feed you throughout the whole year.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.