And the beet goes on: The year is still young enough to sow the UK's favourite seed

Suttons Seeds has just issued its official top five bestseller list for the season so far, and it goes like this: at number five is its pack of peppery wild rocket. At number four, an old favourite: "White Lisbon" spring onion. At number three, a recently launched mix of tasty, fast-growing lettuce varieties: "Speedy Veg Leaf Salad Mix". At number two, the sweet-flavoured, unchewy carrot "Nantes". And stillthere after months in that coveted number one position – a bit like "(Everything I Do) I Do it for You" by Bryan Adams – is Beetroot "Boltardy".

If you're thinking, "Old hat! I grew something far more interesting this year, which I swapped for home-grown rhubarb jam at the heirloom seed fair," you can just turn the page right now. But for those of us regretting that 2011 has yet to see us attend a single antique-potato festival, there's good news: as of today, even though it's mid-July and the school holidays are looming, it's still not too late: if you won't be leaving your garden without water over the coming eight weeks, you could still see in September with a home-grown veg or two.

First of all, salad. Salad is one of the fastest crops to mature, often ready in less than four weeks – especially if you eat the leaves when they're smallish. Suttons' Californian Mix has summery flavours, including chard, kale and spinach as tiny seedlings (£2.20 a packet from In full sun, this salad will run out of steam quickly, so grow it somewhere that doesn't get baked all day long. Make sure the soil has some good nutrients in it, and consider protecting it from slugs in every way possible. Then just focus on getting it watered sufficiently. (That could involve the neighbours, mind: lettuce isn't fussy.)

Next, what about those salad onions? If well looked after, these could be ready in eight weeks, especially if you pick them while they are still skinnyish and mild-flavoured. "White Lisbon", says the wisdom of crowds, and who am I to disagree? The seeds are also rated "skill level: beginner", which is something we all enjoy seeing on a packet. Again, keep them watered, and most of your work is done.

Finally, what about those root veg? Carrots and beetroot turn out to be Britain's surprise bestsellers. "Nantes" is a good choice, edible in six to 12 weeks depending on how much sun we get and how big you want them to be when you eat them. Think about growing in a pot to ensure that no carrot fly get near them, and give them a sandyish soil mix, preferably, as carrots like light-going. Plump for Suttons' "Ideal Speedy Veg" with about 1,800 seeds for £1.35.

That just leaves the beetroot. And although it's too late for them to grow big, it's not too late to sow a thick row of "Boltardy", harvesting first the handsome baby leaves, and then later a smaller number of thumb-sized beetroot to go in that salad. Mmm.

For advanced growers

1. Tomatoes

If your tomato harvest is already one to boast about, consider storing their pulpy goodness in a gorgeous one-litre passata bottle from Seeds of Italy £3.49,

2. Blueberries

Blueberries fruit from now until autumn. Two large four-litre plants, big enough to fruit this season, are now £30 from Dorset Blueberries.

3. Chillis

Treat yourself to a chilli-growing course from the experts who brought the world the Dorset Naga, Sea Spring Seeds: £20 for a morning of advice and practical tips in Dorchester, Dorset. The next available dates are 10 and 23 August. Also, seeds £6;

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own