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Sowing rocket for autumn

Posted: Tuesday 3 September 2013
by Adam Pasco

Bumper harvests continue feeding the family and filling the freezer. It's payback time for all the care that's gone into sowing, watering and nurturing crops through summer.


Bumper harvests continue feeding the family and filling the freezer. It's payback time for all the care that's gone into sowing, watering and nurturing crops through summer, and I'm really pleased with the results.

I've grown more outdoor Italian plum tomatoes than ever as we love turning them into passata and soup, either to enjoy fresh or freeze and enjoy during winter. To ensure they've stayed healthy and avoided infection by tomato blight disease I've sprayed every couple of weeks with a copper-based fungicide, and it's done the trick.

My greenhouse tomatoes have done well too, and I do enjoy their delicious, sweet, flavoursome fruits in a plate of tasty salad leaves. Rocket is a favourite, packing more of a punch in salads than lettuce alone. So while my outdoor crop of rocket is coming to an end, with plants bolting and developing flowers that hoverflies love, I'm making time to sow more rocket to enjoy later in autumn.

Rather than sow in the veg plot I sow seed directly into large patio pots filled with compost. This means I can move pots in and out of the greenhouse depending on the weather. Pots are fine remaining outside when conditions are warm and dry but benefit from protection during wet weather. As we move through October and conditions turn cooler, particularly at night, the pots will be moved permanently under cover to continue developing and cropping.

I tend to sow seed quite thickly, thinning out seedlings to provide baby salad leaves, and giving the remaining plants more room to grow. In addition to rocket, other salads to sow now include oriental greens like mizuna, pak choi, mibuna and mispoona land cress and winter purslane (Claytonia perfoliata), plus a range of pick-and-come-again loose-leaf lettuce.

I find salads sown in pots during autumn germinate and grow better than those sown in the soil, and escape the attention of slugs! It's surprising how many pickings you can get from a single pot, and how much money you can save by growing your own too.





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Leca Clay 26/09/2013 at 07:56

Rocket remains my favorite. I even use it in my meatball mix to add a bit of zest. I find that growing them hydroponically gives me amazing yields of this scrumptious herb. Visit www.hydroworld.co.za for some hydroponic growing tips.