Making plans… again

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.

Brassica bed
Gaps are appearing everywhere, as we slowly work our way through the broccoli, cauliflower and kohlrabi, the brassica bed becomes more gappy than a 6 year old’s smile.

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.

This luffa is in the middle of my cucumber bed and I love to grow them, but takes an age to be ready, long after the cucumbers are gone. This delays this bed from being used for anything useful as the season draws to a close.

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.

Odds and sods bed
This bed is also opening up. I dug up the popcorn that was still languishing there since the terrible attack by some vile creature. I also took out the epazote as it ended up looking more like a seed fest… it is important to find out everything you can before introducing something unfamiliar into your garden and finally I accidentally removed my stevia by standing on it, but all is not lost I’ve taken cuttings and it roots very easily in a jar of water! I also trimmed back the tomatillo because at the end of the day, while cool to grow it, I don’t really love it enough to have it take over the garden.

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.

The corn isn’t far from being ready, and then an entire bed will come free, but the garlic will take it’s place in midwinter, so what ever goes in here needs to be quick – maybe a lupin cover crop to replace what the hungry corn is currently sucking out of the soil.

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.

Onion bed
With the shallots gone, all that is left in this one bursting with life garden is the leeks and some spring onions and a vast expanse of possibility…

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.

The celeriac is looking fabulous this year, and will be ready soon. There are only six of them so they will be gobbled up soon enough leaving a row sized gap in my leafy greens.

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)

7 thoughts on “Making plans… again

  1. I love how every bit of your garden is productive. How do you get on with slugs? You never seem to suffer, what’s your secret?

    We are still waiting for Spring here in the Northern Hemisphere. Plenty of rain so far.

    1. Thanks so much. I do have slugs about the place, but I try to keep the edges of the beds clear so there is nowhere for them to hid. I also use slug bait around the edge of the beds as a first line of defence and a light sprinkle on the beds. It’s the only thing I can trust to actually work. : o)

  2. Sarah, I’m sorry to read about your mostly no-show summer. You put your heart and soul into your garden. It must be disheartening to see the warm, sunny days seemingly pass you by.

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