A question from Janet Henry on how to extend the grow your own season. She asks:

“Could you please give me some advice on what vegetables I can grow outside in autumn/winter and when to plant them we have two vegetable boxes which we purchased from your Garden Centre.”

Chris replies:

August is really the last opportunity to establish plug veg plants* such as Spring Cabbage and good varieties to plant include the varieties ‘Offenham Compact’ and ‘Spring Hero’. These will provide a useful spring crop of greens from March next year.

Again as a plug plant, Chard ‘Rainbow Mixed’ is not only tasty it will also look good in your veggie boxes. Pick the generous crop of leaves young and eat raw as multicoloured baby salad leaves, or cook leaves and midribs separately as a dual-purpose side vegetable. The midribs make a tasty (and colourful, pictured) substitute for celery in cooking.

Do continue to plant Lettuce plugs such as ‘Iceberg’, ‘Lollo Rosso’ and the red and green Batavian Lettuce to keep your autumn salads colourful and fresh. Also, the likes of Rocket, Lambs Lettuce and Mizuna will continue until the first frost; however a bell cloche positioned over a few plants will also help extend the cropping season a little longer.

You’ll need to be quick but you can plant first and second early seed potatoes now and until the end of August for a useful and flavoursome Christmas crop. Ideally, grow these in generous sized plant pots, setting them initially low in the pot and gradually adding compost (earthing-up) as the plants progress in height. You should have a useful crop of new potatoes by mid December.

Finally, if the weather stays mild it is still possible to sow seeds if you are unable to get the plug plants you want. Varieties which should still work are for example Winter Lettuce, Radish, Rocket for salad, plus Mooli (pictured) for winter salads and stir fries.

*Plug plants are subject availability

Spring cabbage