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Is it too late to sow veg?

Seed packets

At this time of year it’s easy to think that it’s too late to sow vegetables. However, our trials have found that you can successfully sow veg well into the summer. When’s the latest you’ve sown veg crops?

This weekend I’ll be busy harvesting vegetables on my allotment. I’ll finish clearing spring sowings of salads and spinach, broad beans, cauliflowers and calabrese, over-wintered onions and early potatoes. This means patches of bare earth are starting to appear.

And although it might seem too late in the season to be sowing new crops, our Which? Gardening research shows that there’s a big opportunity to exploit.

Planting vegetable seeds in July

Last summer we found that a mid-July sowing of a range of common vegetables produced a useful crop at our test sites in Gloucestershire and Northumberland.

We found that you can successfully harvest the following veg if you sow them straight into the ground in July: beetroot, carrots, chard, kohl rabi, lettuce, pak choi and spring onions.

Oh, and you can also plant calabrese (broccoli) at the same time, but it’s best to start it in individual pots as the seed is expensive. In milder areas you could add dwarf French beans and even a second sowing of runners.

You can even hold out until August

Don’t worry if you haven’t any spare ground until August. We found that it’s still worth sowing carrots, chard, kohl rabi, lettuce, pak choi and spring onions in August, especially if you live in the South. Our trial in the North wasn’t quite as successful, with the notable exception of pak choi. But I guess that you’ve nothing to lose but a few seeds.

Apart from providing a crop of tender summer veg well into the autumn, sowing your veg later in the season helps fill the gaps left by the spring-sown crops you’ve harvested. And it also uses up spare seed that might not store well until next spring.

I’ll be making time to keep sowing up to the end of August as space becomes available. Have you enjoyed good late crops in previous years, and will you be sowing this summer?