With the escalating price of food, especially fresh fruit and vegetables, I decided to get creative, experiment and attempt to grow some courgettes, plum tomatoes and cucumber through the autumn and winter months – a first!
Okay, according to the seed packets I am out of time to plant seeds so I won’t hold my breath. However, when I study the back of seed packets most offer the same planting advice regardless of the country which is strange considering the autumn temperatures in Germany, UK, Spain and Portugal differ considerably. Even temperatures across Portugal vary and being on the coast we do not usually experience ground frost or extended temperatures below freezing. The greatest challenge tends to be salt winds so in theory if I protect the plants I should be able to address this.
This morning I went to a market to buy lettuce, spinach and beetroot plugs and much to my surprise one of the stalls also sold cucumber, courgette and tomato plugs. As far as I know, this is a first! Normally at this time of the year, all I can buy at the local market is lettuce, leeks, turnip, broccoli, cauliflower and twenty different types of cabbage etc.
Growing Autumn/Winter Courgette (Zucchini)
I planted two varieties of seeds in the hope at least a couple of plants would germinate then eventually reward my efforts with courgettes, otherwise known as zucchini. Neither variety recommend autumn planting so this will be a gamble.
Imagine my delight when we went to Rogil market today and I found some courgette seedling plugs ready to plant. I don’t have a clue as to variety but as long as they produce courgettes, I don’t really care! I was not only buying plugs but valuable growing time. I planted in pots and once established with a healthy rood system I will transfer to one of the main beds or large containers.
Growing Autumn/Winter Cucumbers
We eat a lot of cucumbers and the price has increased significantly over the last couple of months. Another bonus if I can at least persuade a couple of the plants to produce.
Again the variety does not mention planting seeds beyond June. But how do they know whether it is June or late August?
Another unexpected find at the market was cucumber plugs. Variety unknown. Like the courgettes, I planted them in pots until they have developed a stronger root system.
Growing Tomatoes in the Autumn into Winter
Growing tomatoes has always proved problematic for me due to the high humidity, thanks to sea mists etc. This usually results in blight after a couple of months so I cannot maximise the crop.
I was delighted to see a variety of tomato seed plugs on offer but not the mini plum or cherry tomatoes I prefer to grow. I compromised on the large plum tomato as I think the stallholder was telling me they tasted delicious. We will see.
The Roma tomato is hopefully a mini plum so if these seeds germinate I will be delighted. I note from the planting instructions you can also plant them in December so fingers crossed!
If anyone else is interested in taking up the challenge either with the veg I’ve listed above or your own favourites, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.