Any Which Way
August until October is peak harvest time on the allotment with potatoes, sweetcorn, late peas, runner beans and blueberries, ready to eat. But it’s also time for the end of season quandary, “what will I do now?” There is no right answer to this because how you approach late summer mostly depends on the type of person you are and what you want from your plot.


Those who want maximum value from their allotment could sow ‘catch’ crops now. These are fast growers which work well for filling the spaces which traditional crops leave behind. Oriental vegetables such as Pak Choi, Tatsoi, Chinese Cabbage, or Mibuna and Mispoona  are good choices. All should be sown at around a 1.5cm deep in rows 40 cm apart and kept moist. When the small plants appear thin these out within their rows leaving 30cm between them. This allows enough space to develop to maturity.

Mibuna and Mispoona are usually treated like salad leaves and sown more thickly but the spacing suggested above can achieve mature plants. Oriental vegetables thrive in light shade on rich damp soil with depth, so spreading a layer of compost before sowing and using fertiliser when plants appear all helps. The truly frugal might baulk at such expense, but there is little benefit from growing oriental vegetables in areas where nutrients have been depleted by successive crops.

Pak Choi comes in many colourful varieties including ‘Green’, ‘White’, ‘Red Wizard’ and ‘Purple Rain’ whereas Chinese Cabbage just comes in green. ‘Natuski’, ‘Kiseku’ or ‘Kaboko’ are all good, but any variety will work well. Another excellent late summer crop is Coriander. Sow seeds near the surface in good well drained soil from August through to September, keep well-watered and thin out the seedlings to 5cm apart.

Scottish Gardener:

Some plotters use late summer to start growing next year’s crops in a practice called ‘overwintering’. Onions, leeks and broad beans are true classics for overwintering and very easy. Plant onion sets in September, October and early November. Just make a hole with your finger and insert the onion. You are supposed to leave the top just showing but burying a little deeper works too and foils birds who like to pull them up.

Ideal spacing is 10cm between onions and 30cm between rows. Do likewise with shallots but leave 20cm between each set because these will grow into large bunches. Good varieties for overwintering onions are the yellow ‘Senshyu’ and ‘Autumn Gold’, or ‘Red Electric’. For shallots try ‘Zebrune’ which is pink.

It is also possible in late August to sow onion seeds in rows directly into the soil. Allow small bulbs to develop in situ, thin them a little, and just leave alone to overwinter.

Leeks can also be planted from now until the end of October. The easiest way is to purchase immature plants. Use a rake handle to make a hole around 10cms deep, insert three quarters of the leek and then fill up the hole with water. Ensure each leek is 30cm away from any other leek if you want big leeks, but smaller spacing also works. The best-known variety is ‘Musselburgh’ but try ‘Bandit’ or ‘Blue Solaise’ if you can. A wider range is available if you plan ahead carefully and sow your own seeds from around June in preparation.

Broad beans for overwintering should be sown directly into the ground around October. Plant in rows with 20cm between each bean. ‘Aquadulce Claudia’ is the variety usually grown because it rarely fails.


Carpe Diem
Cropping intensively, growing catch crops, hatching secret plans to overthrow the committee and starting plants off for overwintering makes for a busy time but whatever you’re doing allotmenteers remember an allotment is for fun, don't forget to enjoy yourself.