Now in summer, no-one would like to think about the approaching autumn. However, if you would still like to be supplied with fresh vegetables when summer is over, January is the last chance to sow vegetarian delicacies such as lamb's lettuce, cauliflower, Daikon radish or beetroot. As soon as space has become available again in the vegetable patch, or if you have empty patches anyway, you can start sowing.
Lamb's lettuce: otherwise known as Mache or Corn Salad
Sow late summer to mid-autumn in temperate areas, and late autumn to early winter in subtropical areas. Lamb's Lettuce is unlikely to do well in tropical areas as the soil temperature needs to be 10 - 21°C for good germination. Grow it in full sun to partial shade. It requires fertile, well drained soil with a pH 6 - 7. It is a heavy feeder so add compost. Keep the soil moist and the plants mulched. Protect well from snails and slugs. Lamb's lettuce is rich in vitamin C and thus provides a healthy, delicious salad base in autumn. The seeds are scattered from the seed bag in furrows approx. 2 cm deep. Then cover the seeds with soil again and water well. The seeds take approx. 2 – 3 weeks to germinate, until harvesting approx. 12 weeks. So that your lamb's lettuce is not infected with mildew, it is worthwhile planting robust varieties such as “Rodion”.
Cauliflower: low in fat, high in dietary fibre and vitamin C.
Cauliflower can be sown from February onwards. Choose a warm, sunny location with good, compost-rich soil. To sow, press two seeds into the ground approx. 5 x 5 cm apart and one centimetre deep and cover them with soil. When the germ buds are 3 cm high, the weaker of the two is pulled out so that the stronger plant has more room to grow. As soon as the cauliflower heads are as big as a fist, you should protect them from the sun so that they do not become yellowish and grey. To do this, simply bend the edge leaves inwards. The cauliflower head is thus protected from the sun and remains nice and white and thus tasty.
Daikon radish: A long white radish, with a milder flavour than the small round or oval radishes...
The best months for planting Daikon is at the end of February or wait until the weather warms again around September and October. The seeds should be sown 1 cm deep and 15 – 25 cm apart. A nutrient-rich, moist soil provides optimum conditions for the radish. After germinating, the delicate plants must be separated - dig daikon carefully as they are rather brittle. Do not forget to water regularly!
Most varieties of Daikon prefer cooler weather and have a tendency to 'bolt' or flower early in warm/hot weather. A range of varieties of Daikon is available, some will do better in warm areas so choose a variety to suit your climate.
Beetroot: Perfect for summer salads
Beetroot is very easy to grow and seeds or seedlings can be planted all year round. They like a sunny position and a fertile, free draining soil. Plant 150mm (6") apart, and protect from frost and birds. Beetroot has one advantage over other types of vegetables: The red vegetable is ideal as a catch crop in the vegetable patch and grows very well in locations where pulses or kohlrabi has previously been grown. The soil should be permeable, rich in nutrients and not too acidic. If the seeds are sown very close together, it is necessary to thin out the rows of seedlings, so that the strongest plants have enough space. If you don't thin them, you will get a number of rather pathetic plants which don't grow to an edible size. The soil is to be kept constantly moist, otherwise the leaves become limp and dry beetroot develop a woody and inedible core. Harvest in 55 - 70 days - It is possible to harvest beetroot from a bulb diameter of three to five centimetres - for tasty and tender beetroot, start harvesting at golfball-size. Small bulbs generally taste more delicate and aromatic but are more difficult to handle.