Get sowing! August is a great time for sowing many vegetables, herbs, salads and flowers for year round harvests.
You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment. Almost all of these can be grown outside in the UK (depending on your location!)
Fill those gaps
If like me the slugs have munched some of your cherished overwintering brassicas, this is an opportunity to fill those gaps in your veg beds. I am sowing a lot of kale to compensate for the tragic loss of my Brussel sprouts, munched into oblivion almost overnight earlier in July.
Lettuce and other salad leaves, annual herbs and Asian greens are also excellent gap-fillers.
To stagger harvesting times, I’ll also be sowing many of these in late August and September for later cropping. Find out more in this blog.
Days are getting shorter
We’ve barely had a summer here in Wales, and so it’s not nice to think of autumn being just around the corner, but the reality is the daylight is decreasing every day.
Almost everything listed here can also be sown in September, for cropping a bit later, unless you live in northern parts of the UK where really everything needs to be sown by mid-August and planted out by early September.
The key exceptions are December harvesting potatoes which need to go in asap, and over wintering bulbing onions, which need to be sown by the middle of the month.
Plant Now! Potatoes for Christmas
Grown for cropping towards the end of December and January, it is a bit of a treat harvesting fresh new potatoes in the depths of winter. I grow mine in potato bags or old compost sacks with extra drainage holes made at the bottom.
It is best to grow these under cover, unless you live in an area with no chance of blight or heavy frosts. Potatoes are not frost hardy and you’ll get a bigger harvest if the foliage has some protection.
I grow mine in the greenhouse and polytunnel. If you don’t have an undercover space, then make a shelter for your spuds – a simple cloche of clear polythene, for example.
You’ll find seed potatoes in garden centres, hardware stores and online. The varieties I have planted now are Charlotte, Nicola, Maris Peer and Pentland Javelin.
What to sow in August – the seed list
With a few exceptions, all of these can be sown and grown outside or under cover in August.
Beans – dwarf (bush) beans for growing undercover only, in warmer areas
Beetroot – for small beetroots and also the leaves (delicious in curries)
Cabbages – overwintering varieties and spring cabbage including Durham Early, Greyhound, Piacenza, Wheelers Imperial, April
Cauliflower – eg: All Year Round, Aalsmeer
Carrots – outside or under cover – choose hardier varieties (it will say on the packet) eg: Nantes, Manchester Table Carrot, Autumn King
Celery – mostly for growing undercover. Red stem celery is especially robust
Chicories and Radicchios – one of my absolute favourite things to grow
Endives – En Cornet de Bordeaux, Fine Maraichere, Bianca Riccia da Taglio
Florence fennel – Mantovano, Colossale, Perfektion, Solaris F1, Finale F1
Funky brassicas and greens – spigariello, Rapa Senza Testa, San Marzano, Green Days Eighty, Wa Wa Cai Choi, Hon Tsai Tai, Broccoli Raab (all of these except the Raab are from Real Seeds)
Herbs – including dill, coriander, chervil, parsley (curly and flat leaf), rocket, wild rocket, wasabi rocket. Basil for growing on in pots in the kitchen.
Lettuces – choose winter varieties now which will withstand colder weather including Grenoble red, Red Iceberg, Jack Ice, Marvel of Four Seasons.
Micro-leaves – ideal for smaller spaces, windowsills etc, these can be sown into pots and grown inside.
Mustards and Asian greens – eg: red mustard, red frills, turnip greens, purple mustard greens, Nine headed bird mustard, Golden Frills, Red Frills, Dragon’s Tongue, mibuna, komatusna.
Onions, bulbing – August sowing eg: Augusta, Liria, Senshu yellow, Also Paris early white onion, which is grown for using the bulbs and stems (not storage)
Onions, salad – and bunching onions eg: white lisbon, red beard, bunching onion “kyoto market”.
Pak Choi – eg: Vibrant Joy, Tuushou F1, Green Boy, Santos Round Leaf Yellow, Tai Tai White Stem
Peas for shoots – a thrifty tip is to use left over peas of any variety from your sowings this year
Peas for overwintering – I usually sow these in September when there’s more room – Havel, Douce Provence, Oskar
Radish – especially winter varieties although I have found all radish work undercover including mooli, Green lobo, Black Spanish Round
Other salad leaves including land cress, claytonia and purslane
Spinach including perpetual spinach eg: medania, giant winter spinach, viroflex
Green Manures to sow in August
I sow all of these outside, if there is some space. The polytunnel is full of veg over winter so there’s no room for green manures
eg: field beans, agricultural mustard Sinapsis Alba, Caliente mustard and crimson clover.
I use these because none need to be dug in. The mustards and clover will die off in the frosts and the field beans are cut at ground level before harvesting, useful composting materials. A brilliant thing about green manure is that it keeps roots in the soil increasing biodiversity and helps to protect the soil against wild weather.
Avoid mixes with rye in as it is really tricky to get rid of unless you’re a farmer!
Flowers to sow in August