September is officially here, and although it may be a month you typically associate with harvesting vegetables rather than planting them, there's still plenty of produce you can start growing now for delicious crops through winter and spring.
'While your thoughts may be consumed by the abundance of summer harvests, it's also an opportune moment to ponder about what to cultivate next in your gardens,' says Lina Cowley, expert gardener at Trimmed Roots. 'With the right knowledge and a little effort, September can be transformed from a time of harvest to a time of planting. It's a chance to extend the growing season and enjoy fresh produce long after summer has faded.'
Eager to get planting but stumped on what to grow? We asked Lina and some other gardeners what to plant in your vegetable garden now so you can enjoy some homegrown goodness throughout the winter. Here are seven ideas to get you started.
One of the easiest crops you can plant this month is garlic. It's great for raised beds since it can be planted in shallow soil, but it's also suitable for container gardening if you're short on space - just ensure you plant it in a sunny spot with well-draining soil.
To plant, separate the bulbs into cloves and plant them individually, with the pointed end facing up. 'Once planted, the cloves create a robust root system before the onslaught of winter, ensuring a more vigorous growth in spring,' explains Lina Cowley at Trimmed Roots. 'Each clove should be buried about 2 inches deep and placed 4 inches apart from the next.'
By early summer, your fresh garlic will be ready to add to your favorite dishes, just wait for the lower leaves to turn brown before harvesting.
'Spinach is perfect for a cold-season harvest,' explains Tony O'Neill, gardening expert at Simplify Gardening. It's also really a really easy vegetable for beginner gardeners to grow. 'Just sow the seeds 2 inches apart in nutrient-rich soil and keep it moist for optimal growth,' says Tony. It's a good idea to add some compost for an extra nutrient boost.
While spinach can more or less be grown all year round, there's good reason to plant it now instead of during spring or summer. 'As the temperatures decrease in fall, the risk of spinach bolting reduces, leading to a harvest that's sweet and tender,' explains Lina. 'Harvest whenever the leaves are large enough to eat which could be as early as four to six weeks for baby spinach.'
If you like a little extra crunch in your salad, now's the perfect time to sow your salad radish seeds. They're a great vitamin boost later in the fall, plus they grow super quickly.
As Tony explains: 'Radishes are one of the easiest and quickest crops. Sow them now and they can be ready in as little as 30 days, depending on the variety.' Better still, they're a great choice for vegetable container gardening, so you can grow your own even if you only have a small patio or balcony to work with.
4. Fava beans
Fava beans (or broad beans) are delicious but they take a lot longer to grow compared to radishes and salad leaves, so get a head start by planting them in your backyard now. 'Choose a sunny spot with good drainage, and sow seeds two to three inches deep and six inches apart,' says Tony. 'While they're cold-hardy, a winter fleece might be beneficial in extremely chilly areas.'
According to Lina, planting fava beans in September generally results in bigger yields compared to beans planted in spring. 'Harvest the young pods when they’ve reached a length of 3-4 inches for the most tender beans,' she says. 'Make sure to provide support for the tall-growing beans, too.'
Whether used in salads or as a nutritious side with your main meal, peas are another great vegetable to plant in September, just make sure you choose a wintering variety. 'These types of peas are cultivated to endure the winter, and planting them now can lead to an early spring harvest, before the usual pea-sowing season,' explains Lina. 'Find a sunny, sheltered spot and plant the seeds one inch deep and about two inches apart.'
'Fall-planted peas germinate slowly but grow robustly,' says Tony. That means they should be ready to harvest in early spring, as soon as the pods have filled out. 'Similar to beans, just ensure you provide a trellis or netting support early on,' he adds.
Technically you don't even need a garden to plant scallions since these vegetables can be grown indoors all year round, but if you do want to plant them outdoors, now is the perfect time. 'Opt for a winter-hardy variety for harvests starting in December,' suggests Tony. 'Sow the seeds thinly in rows around an inch deep and ensure they're well-watered.'
According to Lina, they'll be ready to harvest as soon as they reach a reasonable size. 'Just be careful not to let them grow too large as they may lose their delicate flavor,' she warns.
7. Winter salad leaves
Last but not least, some of the best vegetables to grow in pots are salad leaves. If you're looking to plant now, keep an eye out for hardy wintering options. 'Varieties like Winter Gem, Arctic King, or Valdor are perfect,' says Tony. 'Sow the seeds in trays or directly into the soil and pick a spot protected from heavy rain for best results.' If you prefer a more typically seasonal leaf, Swiss chard is also known for its tolerance to colder temperatures.
Clearly there's no need to give up your vegetable gardening pursuits until spring returns. As Lina puts it: 'With a little preparation and a dash of love for gardening, you can look forward to reaping what you sow this month, so let your garden bloom with a plethora of flavors!'
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Lilith Hudson is the News Editor at Livingetc, and an expert at decoding trends and reporting on them as they happen. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.
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