Well now we find ourselves on the front door of February. Late summer. And now in what should be the height of seasonal fun and frivolity, with BBQs every night and picnics every day, swimming at the beach at every opportunity, basking in all that is glorious about the sunny season. But I’m just not feeling it. It is a lovely blue sky day… and an hour weeding in the late afternoon works up a sweat – not that I sweat, ladies ‘glow’ – but yesterday most of the day was raining and gloomy.
As much I hate to relinquish my hopes for a descent summer, now is the time to plan for winter. Normally I miss this window as I don’t want to believe it is possible to let go of the wonderful endless, blue sky days and leave it until the very last minute. This year I’m just keen for a fresh start and so shall plan meticulously, weighing up the pros and cons of each variety that will grace my garden over the winter months, that will lift my heart when I look out on a bleak, cold day and see thing growing and not just a sea of mud.
I will consider the garden as a whole and work out what will be best to go where, instead of just filling gaps like I normally do. This leads to so much difficulty as often the crop isn’t finished by the time I need the garden for the spring things. Having said that, this could also be down to my poor organisation in previous years that leads me to the late start to the cool crop season.
What beds don’t find themselves with crops in, because let’s face it, the choice in winter while varied is nowhere near as vast as the summer options, will have cover crops in them to help replenish the organic matter taken from the garden during the long summer months. Even this in itself requires careful consideration because while mustard is said to have beneficial properties to cleanse the soil, it is a brassica so can’t interfere with the crop rotation, because the last thing I want to do is introduce club root to my garden.
I would also like to grow more wheat as this year’s crop was just enough to mulch the strawberries and I’d really like to take this further. When you have a large garden, mulch is an expensive proposition. But I can’t just put it in any old bed, it needs to go into one that won’t be needed until about mid – late spring as the wheat seems to always take it to the very last moment before being ready for harvest, and in the meantime, I have plants in pots, desperate to go in.
Then if there is any odd bed that doesn’t fit in then I can smother it with some lovely well-rotted poop my farmer friend delivered to me by the tractor bucket load the other day and the earthworms can work it all in.
I think I’m going to need to sit down with a clear head and a large cup of tea and work this all out. Deciding what to grow and where to put it; considering my crop rotation; how long things take in the winter months – which is a lot slower than summer; what needs to go in where in the spring, because some things can go in earlier and some things need to go in later when it is warmer; which cover crops and where to fit in my wheat already seems like a lot to figure out. Just getting to this point where it is no longer floating about in my head, but safely on paper feels like a good start.
Come again soon – I’ll let you know what I decide to do.
Sarah the Gardener : o)