Monty Don reveals the crop you should plant now for a quick harvest

It's not too late for a veggie patch, says the gardening guru, if you choose your crops carefully

Green young organic arugula grows on a bed in the ground
(Image credit: letterberry/ Getty)

If you thought that the vegetable-planting season was over, you may change your mind after you learn what Monty Don had to say to Gardeners' World Magazine editor Lucy Hall in a recent podcast.

Most gardeners will be forgiven for thinking that the grow your own season is well and truly over as we head towards winter, but the gardening guru recommends some very specific vegetables to plant in November that grow fast and will do just fine in the autumn garden. 

The vegetables you should plant now, according to Monty Don

Perennial wall-rocket, Diplotaxis tenuifolia, in garden

(Image credit: Westend61/ Getty)

And the top crops Monty recommends growing in autumn are lettuce and rocket. These 'grow fast' and are just two examples of the 'tender crops' that 'do very well in autumn,' according to Monty.

In fact, even growing lettuce in winter works, so there's no reason you shouldn't start your lettuces and other tender leaves in November. In fact, Monty points out that from a grower's point of view, we've only just passed 'the peak of the vegetable year', which is not in the summer as everyone thinks, but falls on 'September, even early October with climate change.' So, there is still time to add to your kitchen garden ideas, if you choose crops that grow quickly.

lettuce growing in garden

(Image credit: marinopili/ Getty)

Climate change has shifted the timeframes of vegetable gardening. In the podcast, Monty recalls that '50 years ago when I was learning my vegetable growing trade, if you didn’t have hard frost in September, you’d consider yourself lucky', whereas nowadays 'the vegetable garden can stay very productive well into October and sometimes even November.'

With that in mind, you can go ahead and sow your tender crops now as part of your November gardening jobs, bearing in mind that the biggest challenge you'll face will be 'the falling light more than anything else', with the days getting shorter. This is the real reason why most people do their autumn planting in July-August, not because of the falling temperatures. 

Other than that, Monty recommends getting a cloche for the time when the frosts arrive in earnest. Learning how to protect plants from frost is still essential, especially if we get a cold winter. While many vegetable crops won't mind a light frost, it's the hard frosts you need to watch out for.  

Anna writes about interior design and gardening. Her work has appeared in Homes & Gardens, Livingetc, and many other publications. She is an experienced outdoor and indoor gardener and has a passion for growing roses and Japanese maples in her outside space.