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Broad bean leaves
While the nights may be drawing in and the temperatures starting to drop, there’s still plenty of sowing that can be done at this time of year. This article looks at some crops that are ideal for planting in the autumn.
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With the arrival of autumn, it’s easy to neglect our gardens, pack away our garden tools and assume our fruit and vegetable plots are redundant until next spring! But there are still plenty of flowers, fruits and vegetables which can be sown or planted in November, keeping us occupied and active through the winter months.

Sowing in November gives us a head start on the gardening year ahead, bringing flower, fruit and vegetable harvest times forwards while taking up soil space that would otherwise remain empty. Sowing in November also takes the pressure off spring sowing as spring can often be such a busy time of year in the garden.

  • Good mix of both bigger and smaller bodily movements keep us supple and provide exercise.
  • Engages our nurturing instincts with hope and anticipation for the future.
  • Gets us outside, appreciate being outdoors and take notice of everything that is happening in nature. Working at a slower speed and absorption into the sensory side of nature is very restorative to mental fatigue.

Below you will find some of our recommendations of crops you can grow in autumn.

Broad beans are straightforward to grow from seed and low maintenance. They can be sown in the ground in autumn and sowing broad beans in November can bring your harvest forwards by a few weeks, while having roots in the ground will aid soil structure and prevent leaching of soil nutrients in autumn rains.

Choose a sunny sheltered growing site with well-drained soil and be aware that in the traditionally wetter northern areas of the country and wet soils, the success rate will be lower than the drier and sunnier south-east of the country.

‘Aquadulce Claudia’ is the best variety for autumn sowing and overwintering. The long pods are early to mature in the spring. After sowing, these beans need little attention. Sown in the autumn or late winter, the plants need no watering or weeding, making them an easy crop to grow for the beginner.

Whilst autumn sowing minimises the risk of blackflies, if you’re also growing garlic (see the next section), plant the bulbs in the autumn around your broad bean patch, so the scent of the garlic will keep the blackflies away.

Garlic g61868092d 1920
Garlic flower

Garlic is one of the easiest things to grow over the autumn and winter and actually benefits from an initial period of cold which prompts growth later. It needs little maintenance, apart from watering in dry spells, and regular weeding.

Simply plant autumn-planting varieties in fertile soil, then mulch, keep moist and harvest in summer, remembering to snip off any flower stems that may start to form.

You can grow garlic well in pots - find out more about this and other tip on the Garlic Farm website.

Garlic doesn’t like to sit in water – so if your soli is heavy and holds water, there is the danger of cloves rotting. To stop this, try dibbing a hole with an old spade handle and then drop sand or fine gravel into the base of the hole. An inch of sand or grit will provide enough drainage and then plant the clove on top. Put some fine compost on top of the clove to ensure good drainage and to further prevent rotting.

There are two main types of garlic – hardneck and softneck. If you live in a very cold part of the UK, there are plenty of hardneck varieties that cope well with more severe winter conditions. The ‘Extra Early Wight’ is a delicious hardneck that crops very early in the season in late May. If you live in a milder area, 'Wight Cristo’ is a softneck with excellent flavour.

Direct seed sowing

Across the year, directly sowing seeds into the ground or containers is a necessary part of gardening to get certain plants to grow.

Find out more

Spinach is a crop that produces all year round which means it’s always an option to grow in the autumn and winter. You cut what you need and it grows again, Cut some more and it grows again and will continue to produce lovely young leaves!

A little nitrogen-rich fertiliser, moist soil and sunshine is all you need to grow yourself a plentiful supply. Typically it’s best to sow seeds directly into the cropping site as spinach seedlings can be challenging to transplant.

‘Perpetual spinach’ is actually a chard (beet family) but is very similar to true spinach in flavour. It is succulent, prolific and very hardy, suitable for autumn and winter crops, and has the advantage of constantly producing a new crop when picked in order to provide a continuous supply of tasty 'cut and come again' leaves. Regular harvesting will keep the spinach cropping well into spring. Remember to keep the soil moist and be sure to remove the flowers to prevent the plants running to seed which would then affect leaf production.

Spinach grows well indoors or in a container - get tips over on Balcony Garden Web.

Spinach
Spinach

Raspberries are relatively easy and cheap to grow and if you choose both summer- and autumn-fruiting raspberries, you’ll have rich pickings from late June into October. Do not plant autumn and summer fruiting raspberries near each other though as they have different pruning needs and may well become mixed up.

Autumn-fruiting raspberries tend to be easier to grow as their sturdy canes do not need staking like summer-fruiting varieties do. Autumn varieties are also less affected by raspberry beetle, which is more active when the summer varieties are fruiting. They crop well in drier gardens because they are fruiting in cooler autumnal conditions – something raspberries enjoy

Mild days in late autumn or early winter are a good time to plant raspberry canes. Choose an open, sunny spot where the soil should be free draining, with plenty of well-rotted garden compost or manure added. Before planting, give the roots a good soak in water.

Below are some examples of autumn varieties of raspberries to grow:

  • ‘All Gold’: this raspberry produces bright yellow fruit that have a strong aroma and a wonderfully sweet flavour
  • ‘Autumn Bliss’: this short, strong-caned variety produces distinctive large red berries on disease-resistant plants which crop for a long season. They are ideal to grow on smaller fruit and vegetable plots and being short, the canes need little or no support.
  • ‘Joan J’: this variety tends to produce high yields of large juicy sweet raspberries with good disease resistance and thanks to its lack of prickles, pruning and harvesting is relatively easy.
Autumn crops raspberries
Raspberries

Tulips, along with daffodils, crocuses and hyacinths, are one of the most popular spring bulbs planted in our gardens. Tulip bulbs can be planted from mid-October but November is thought to be the optimum time as it reduces the risk of a fungal disease called tulip fire which is wiped out in colder weather.

Tulips will flourish if planted in fertile well-drained soil in the sun and sheltered from strong winds. Loose, crumbly soil beneath a tulip bulb will promote good growth and drainage, so it’s a good idea to prepare the soil a few inches deeper than the required planting depth.

After planting the bulbs. water thoroughly to settle the soil and to encourage the start of the root growth of the tulips. In dry periods after planting, it may be necessary to water once a week in the autumn as sufficient moisture is essential to the health of the bulbs.

The roots will continue to grow until the soil freezes in winter and will then lay dormant until the soil begins to warm up again in early spring.

Tulips also grow very well in pots. When planting tulip bulbs in a pot, they can be planted much closer together but make sure they don’t touch each other or the sides of the container. Also place pieces of broken pots or stones at the bottom of the pot to assist with free drainage and air circulation.

Use our Planting Tulips guide for more on this activity.

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Rebecca H potting up Charlie Garner 2019 3