Start sowing in October | BBC Gardeners World Magazine

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It feels a bit daring to be sowing seeds this late in the year – but it’s really worth the effort as you’re setting yourself up for a fantastic spring. When my cold frame is full of veg and flower seedlings through winter, I know I’ll be harvesting salads by March and picking flowers sooner too, so my growing season gets off to the best possible start!

More October seed sowing ideas:

October seed sowing inspiration

Plants featured in this video



I’ve never had much luck with cauliflowers, to be honest: they tend to bolt on me, especially in hot summers. But I’ve had better success sowing in autumn, when it’s cool and damp. I sow into newspaper modules filled with home-made potting compost in the greenhouse, then move the young plants outside in spring for fat, creamy curds by early summer.



Shallots are brilliant value – each set you plant makes a cluster of up to five elegantly tapered bulbs with a mild, oniony flavour. The earlier you sow them, the bigger the bulbs, so I like to get some into the ground in autumn to overwinter as seedlings. Plant the sets straight into your autumn mulch so the tips are just at soil level, spacing them about 15cm apart.


Greek basil

Greek basil is my favourite herb to grow as a houseplant as it forms a lovely neat hummock, and it puts up with low light levels so lasts longer into winter, too. You won’t get full-sized plants from seeds sown into pots on windowsills indoors now – but you will get scrummy microgreens to snip once the seedlings are about 5cm tall.

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Sweet peas

I have sweet peas somewhere on my veg plot every year – they’re brilliant for attracting in pollinating insects to boost my harvests so I like to grow them on jute netting among the peas or trained up wigwams alongside climbing beans. I sow a batch in autumn to overwinter as seedlings, then a second batch in spring for a stream of scent and colour all summer long.