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Harvest late summer crops

It’s late summer, but there’s still plenty to be done on the vegetable plot. Keep picking peas, beans and courgettes. And there’s still time to plant salads.

What a year – all extremes and not much in the way of a normal summer, so the chances are that, like me and many others, you’ve been more than a bit disappointed in the results from your veg plot!

Peas and beans

With any of the legume family, which includes all the peas and beans it is essential that you keep them well watered (even if the weather is more gusty than baking hot) as dryness will stop late pods forming and reduce the size and quality of those pods, which have already formed. Regular picking, even though the number of beans forming is much lower now, is essential if the plants are to continue being useful until the last minute. 

Picking runner beans
Keep regularly picking your runner beans, even if the beans forming are much lower now.


Courgettes may still continue cropping well for a good while yet, especially if you are growing some of those super sturdy Italian varieties, but it is essential that these too are always moist at the roots or you’ll get a plethora of male flowers and few females. If conditions are damp where you are, then watch out for young fruits rotting – I always twist off the flowers as soon as the fruits are a couple of inches long, this invariably stops the rot. Mildew is invariably a problem by this stage in the year and if you can catch it early it really pays to cut off the leaves that are showing the classic symptoms of white powdery fungal growth. Avoiding wetting the leaves will also help; so when you’re watering always direct the end of the watering can right at the base of the plant.

Things to sow now

Don’t feel it is too late to sow anything; it really isn’t, especially if you are happy to take a few risks.  There are some risks I feel are almost always worth taking and sowing a few seeds in the hope of something useful, is one risk that costs so little and can yield a lot. So why not make sowings of salads such as radish, rocket and all the various lettuces? The outlay will be a matter of pence if you use standard, non-fancy varieties and if you combine it with some sowings of spinach and beetroot (grown just for the tender young leaves) you can have some wonderful salads throughout much of autumn. Oriental vegetables such as mizuna and Pak Choi are seriously speedy growers too and will be up and cropping before you know it. Having some fleece or micromesh-covered pullout tunnels to hand will allow you to provide protection when temperatures do start to drop towards the end of autumn.

Harvesting rocket leaves
Sowing rocket seeds now can still give you some wonderful salads throughout much of autumn.

Plants from Pippa

Why keep your veg plot vacant over the winter months? There are plenty of young veg plants which can go into areas recently vacated by summer vegetables and, by using these you’ll not only give yourself some gorgeous vegetables to enjoy that bit earlier next spring and summer but even have some which can be harvested before you’re even planting out your summer veg! A visit to will give you the chance to treat yourself to my ‘Winter thru Spring Collection’ of September planting vegetables. These include purple sprouting broccoli, tatsoi, Hispi cabbage, spring onions, broadbeans, radicchio and Japanese onions. They’re all grown especially for me in Lincolnshire and will be delivered in early September, so hurry! You’ll also receive monthly emails from me with tips and advice for getting the best possible results from your vegetable collection.


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