I know, I know, it’s the last thing you want to think of while harvesting your red currants and basking in the summer sun, but July is a good month to sow the Kale, Cauliflower, Winter Cabbage, Christmas Potatoes, and it is your last chance to sow such crops as Beetroot, Runner beans, Main crop peas, Florence Fennel, even then, some of these are really pushing it for a decent crop.
All of these can be sown directly into the ground. However, apart from the Beetroot, for a reliable crop, I always sow into a seed tray or pots, and make sure that the plants I do plant out are tough enough to deal with most pests – This time of the year seedlings seem to be the tastiest morsel around for many insects and birds. If you can’t plant under glass, make sure that wherever you plant seeds, use an organic slug control, and cover the area in a fine net.
Of course, planting in a seed tray does increase your workload. Once the seedlings are large enough to be handled (once the middle leafs start coming through, and the original leaves start changing shape), prick them out of the seed tray, and in to individual pots. This is usually where you realise you over sowed by many tens. I now have 20 Cauliflower plants, of which we will probably only eat 5 after maturity.
To prick out the plants, first fill your destination pots with compost and push your finger down the middle, creating a large enough hole to pop the seedling in.
Always choose the larger healthy looking seedlings, anything looking weedy or yellow, discard.
Use the plastic label to gently loosen the soil around the seedling. Holding the leafs of the plant, gently tug until it and a good ball of its roots come out use gentle persuasion if the roots have become intertwined with other seedlings. If you happen to snap the stem, or the roots all get pulled off in the process, it will kill the plant. Choose a different seedling if this is the case.
Now drop the seedling into the ready prepared hole, and firm the soil around the base of the plant.
Of course, this is not over yet. These plants will probably need potting on to large pots in a few weeks time, so it really has given me extra work to do!
Try to keep the seedlings out of the direct midday sunlight if at all possible, it can stress them, and cause them to bolt (try to flower), rendering them useless for a winter crop.
To get a good idea of what you can be sowing now for the winter, take a look at this great seed website. They come up with some great ideas.
Originally posted 2017-07-10 11:52:48.