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You are here: Home > Resources > No Dig Vegetable Growing > Autumn in the Veg Plot: Sowing & Growing

Autumn in the Veg Plot: Sowing & Growing

Last sowing and picking

A late sowing to bear in mind is broad beans in early November. I recommend waiting until then so that bean plants are short and stumpy through Winter. Often if sown in October, their longer stems are then more easily damaged by frost. When they survive as small plants, growth next spring is wonderfully rapid, thanks to all the roots they made in the warmer soil of late autumn.

Charles Dowding Autumn 7








Tomatoes need picking soon, of all fruit, before frost. Do not water plants any more, at all, to help ripening happen more quickly until you pick them. Green ones can be ripened in warmth indoors as long as they are fully developed, often showing a first hint of colour. This variety is Ruthje from and the flavour is excellent, grown in a polytunnel.

Charles Dowding Autumn 8








Garlic, and afterwards

The only planting I recommend now is of garlic, at any time until end November, so that roots develop in the warm, autumn soil. Harvests will be bigger next summer - harvest at the end of June, before their tops turn too yellow. This year there was a lot of rust and mould on garlic leaves and they have been difficult to store but if you still have some good ones, their larger cloves are good for planting, even if they had rust, and this saves you money. Dib holes and set them just below soil level, then cover with an inch or two of homemade compost or animal manure, which has decomposed to a dark brown colour, around six to twelve months old.

I was frustrated to read the opinion recently in a garden magazine that manure on top of garlic would rot the bulbs if soil is clay. I garden on clay and have always succeeded with this method, and also find that the composted manure, or garden compost, enriches soil enough for a second sowing or planting to be made after the garlic has grown. This year on June 8th, I sowed beetroot between the rows of maturing garlic so that there were rows of beet seedlings already growing when garlic was being trowelled out, and now there is a bumper harvest of beetroots, all fed by the one dressing of organic matter last October.

Charles Dowding Autumn 3








Winter salads

Finally a word on winter salads undercover which are best planted (not sown) now - they need to have been sown in September. If you do sow them now, time is running out for plants to make a reasonable size before winter, and then harvests in early spring are less. However the main salads to SOW now are the fastest growing ones, especially mizuna, also salad rocket and mustards such as Green in the Snow and Red Dragon. I find good seed at

Charles Dowding Autumn 9








If you sowed salad seeds such as winter purslane (claytonia), land cress, lambs lettuce, mustards, spinach, lettuce and endive in September, they can be planted now in a greenhouse, polytunnel or in boxes of compost and manure on a well lit windowsill or conservatory. Allow six to nine inches between plants, to pick outer leaves until next May. All these plants are frost hardy and should survive a long time, as long as you do not overwater them in the dark days of midwinter. Keep air flowing around them - more plants die of damp than of cold!