As well as tidying up the garden ready for winter you can still sow and plant in the autumn. A spot of gardening with the kids is an ideal activity for a warm autumn afternoon. Late autumn is, in fact, the best time to plant shrubs and trees, including fruit trees.
Some of the vegetables you can plant are slightly more unusual, so it is an opportunity for your children to be adventurous with their growing and eating. You can continue with outdoor sowings of lettuce, spinach and rocket.
You can sow the seeds from now until mid-October and it takes about 8-10 weeks to grow. The plants prefer bright spots in winter and shady spots in summer, not too hot and not too dry.
The coloured stalks can be stir-fried or sautéed but remember, they can turn accompanying foods a lovely shade of pink! Try topping your chard with a splash of balsamic vinegar, a squirt of lemon juice or a dollop of crème fraiche. The young leaves can be eaten raw in salads or added to warm dishes just before serving.
Great for stir fries this vegetable may seem exotic, but is a member of the cabbage family.
Sow seed thinly, 13mm (0.5in) deep, in rows 30-38cm (12-15in) apart. You will see growth in a couple of weeks and you can harvest after about 60 days
Onions and Garlic
You can plant onion sets and garlic in October. However you will not be in a position to harvest them until the following summer. So you will need to have a patient child.
You can sow broad beans outdors now, or you can wait for the spring. ‘Aquadulce Claudia’ is best for Autumn sowing.
An activity that will see some immediate results is to sow all those bare patches in lawns with grass seed. The kids can easily help with this task and they should be rewarded with sprouting seeds within a couple of weeks.
Spring Bulbs and Flowers
Plant bulbs as soon as available – don’t leave in plastic. Wait until late Oct/Nov before planting tulips. You can also plant alliums and grape hyacinths.
You can buy bare root wallflowers now. Market stalls are often a good place to source them. Plant as soon as you buy them. They will flower in March/April.
There is still time to create an herb garden, though there will not be much growth over winter. Many herbs such as rosemary, thyme, sage and oregano are hardy.
Buy seeds and bulbs now at Thomson and Morgan.