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Gardening: Top of my crops; SEEDS TO SOW NOW.

Byline: By STEVE RICHES

HANDS up all the veg growers who haven't sown any seed for weeks. Thought so. Shame on you.

The mass spring sowing may be long gone and you'll be busy reaping the rewards, but now's a vital time to prolong your homegrown supply.

Sow what?

SALAD is a must. By late autumn, the shops will be full of imported tasteless rubbish and charging a fortune for it. You, of course, can tuck into your own if you act now.

I'll be planting a healthy mix of rocket, spinach, lamb's lettuce, lolla rossa, pak choi and mizuna lettuce in gaps that have appeared since I harvested onions and French beans.

It's also time to sow more herbs, particularly basil and coriander. If you're short of space, you can always put them in patio pots.

A pack of more seeds than you'll ever need costs about pounds 1.50, so you may think it better to get a mixed pack for the same money. All the major merchants sell them.

POTATOES won't save you money, but for taste they're unbeatable. Second-cropping varieties such as Charlotte, Juliette and Carlingford can be ready to eat two months after planting. You'll pay about pounds 8 for two kilos.

BRUSSELS SPROUTS should have been sown months ago, but it's worth buying a few as plants. Half a dozen shouldn't cost more than pounds 1 and the likes of Peer Gynt are heavy croppers.

CARROTS shouldn't be forgotten, either. Although you'll already be digging them, a few more fast-growers won't go amiss and sown now they'll be tender and tasty in mid-winter. Finger Carrot Nanco are a sound bet.

Looking ahead to spring...

ONIONS need to go in soon so you'll have a supply when your winter store runs out. The mild Swift will be ready in May if you get sets planted within a month.

GARLIC can wait a few weeks, too, but needs a longish (six months) growing season. Don't plant cloves of shop-bought bulbs, but get them from seed merchants. Early Wight is an old favourite, but do try Pink Lady, so mild it can be eaten raw. You ought to avoid public transport afterwards, mind.

BROAD BEANS can be a bit anti-social, too, but sow some Aquadulce varieties now.

PURPLE-SPROUTING BROCOLLI is a personal favourite and I've brought on some Claret from seed to plant out this week.

CABBAGE lovers shouldn't hold back, either. Try Excel and the ball-headed Spring Hero for heads like footballs.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Aug 21, 2005
Words:416
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