Sowing seeds in the autumn

At a time of year when the frenzy of activity in the garden is starting to quieten down, you may think it is time to put away those packets of seeds until next spring. However there are several benefits to investing a little time now to sow a few core varieties which will reap rewards over the coming months.

Plants sown now, whilst there is still warmth in the ground, will have chance to develop a strong root system during the winter months. This means they will be primed ready to grow quicker as soon as the temperatures rise again in spring. The resulting plants are stronger and in the case of flowering plants will start to bloom up to six weeks earlier, soon after the last of the late spring bulbs have faded. This bumper crop of flowers will then bridge the gap until your garden perennials come into their own.

If you are reluctant to let go of the summer season just yet, why not take advantage of a late sowing of winter salad varieties? You don’t even need a veg patch as they are just as happy raised in a spare container in a sunny position on the patio. Basil and parsley, our favourite culinary herbs, can also be sown in pots now and grown on in the warmth of the sunny kitchen windowsill. This makes them perfect for cutting during the winter months.

At Dobbies we are pleased to be key stockists of Suttons Seeds. Visit your local garden centre to see our wide range of seeds suitable for sowing this autumn. Here are a few of our recommendations to get you started:

Sweet Pea Sublime Scent Mix:

  • This variety offers a lovely colour mix with long stems which are perfect for cutting.
  • Sow three seeds per 10” pot in September – October in a cold frame or a cool greenhouse.
  • Pinch out tips in early spring to encourage bushy growth.
  • Plant out in March or April to ensure early blooms from mid-May.

Cornflower Blue Diaden:

  • This hardy annual is a cottage garden favourite loved by pollinators and perfect for filling gaps in the garden border.
  • Simply sow direct into finely raked moist soil where they are to flower, covering lightly with soil.
  • Thin seedlings if necessary the following spring to encourage bushy plants, which will bloom by early June

Papaver Ladybird:

  • A charming variety with bold markings on the petals reminiscent of a ladybird.
  • This hardy annual poppy has been awarded a Garden Merit from the RHS. 
  • Extremely attractive to bees, sow direct into finely raked moist soil where they are to flower, cover very lightly with soil.
  • Remove any competing weeds and thin seedlings if necessary in early spring to encourage strong plants loaded in flower by early June.

Speedy Veg Salad Winter Mix

  • Sown little and often, this versatile fast growing salad mix can be sown outdoors up to October or in pots on the kitchen windowsill during the colder winter months.
  • Sow thinly, covering the seeds lightly with compost. Simply snip tasty young leaves as required allowing plants to re-grow for future cuttings.

Broad Bean Aquadulce Claudia: 

  • The best variety suited to growing through our winters.
  • Sowings from November to January bear the earliest pickings the following May.
  • Sow direct into the veg patch, sowing seeds 2” deep and 9”apart in a double staggered row.
  • Alternatively sow in pots in a cold frame / cool greenhouse ready for planting out early the following spring.

Sweet Basil: 

  • Experiment with your herbs by sowing a big pot of basil for the kitchen windowsill instead of your beds. With the right care the resulting plants can grow so strong and healthily. You can even make a big batch of fresh pesto from your crops and freeze it to add to your favourite Italian recipes in future.
  • Sow thinly directly into pots of compost in early autumn to ensure plants get as such much sunshine as possible to germinate and grow away strongly.
  • Cover the seed lightly with compost.

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