Start sowing in September | BBC Gardeners World Magazine

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I feel like I’m being pulled in two directions in September. On the one hand I’m shoehorning in a few last-minute crops before winter arrives; on the other, I’m getting the new season under way and sowing the first crops for next year. Either way, I’ve got a lot of sowing to do!

More seed sowing advice:

September seed sowing inspiration

Plants featured in this video


American land cress

I sow lots of interesting hardy salad greens like claytonia, mizuna and cornsalads under cloches and in the greenhouse now for autumn baby leaves. This is one of the best: it’s a great substitute for watercress and tastes very similar, but it’s fast growing, hardy and bombproof as long as you keep it fairly well-watered.



Hardy annual herbs like dill, coriander and chervil are another favourite for my winter salads: chervil isn’t that widely grown but I can’t think why as I love it. It’s got beautiful soft, ferny leaves with an aniseedy flavour, it’s also very easy going and one of the few herbs which prefers the shade.


Autumn sown onions

The first of next season’s crops to go in the ground are my autumn-sown onions – you might have come across them as Japanese or overwintering onions. They’re hardier than most so overwinter as seedlings from a September sowing – I’m usually pulling the first golden bulbs from June, a good month earlier than maincrop onions.


Bishop’s weed (Ammi majus)

There’s still time to sow hardy annual flowers for a splash of early colour next year. I sow plenty of ammi, also known as bishop’s weed, in modules to overwinter as seedlings; next spring I dot them through the borders for a froth of lacy white flowers all summer.



Sowing doesn’t get much easier than this – I just crack open a packet of nigella seeds and sprinkle them onto damp soil wherever there’s a gap. The filigree blue flowers are quite as pretty as their romantic name suggests, and followed by handsome seedpods too.



I’ve always got a few pots of violas around in winter as their perky little flowers make me smile. They appeal to the veg gardener in me too as the petals are also edible: I scatter them into salads, or dip them in egg white and sugar then dry them for candied flowers to decorate cakes.