Planning the Garden – Stuck in the Middle

This is an easy sector for me to plan as most things don’t move.  There are two asparagus beds and they have already had all the attention they need for the start of the season.  All I have to do is wait for the first delish spears to pop up, which should be some time around August.  I am a little worried though that some of the crowns may have rotted in the soggy weather so I have prepared in advance some new ones grown from seed.  If there are any gaps then come next winter I’ll be able to pop in what would be one year old crowns by then and we will be away again.

Asparagus seedlings
Grown from seed these asparagus seedlings are doing well, however I strongly hope I don’t need them and will be able to pass them on to friends.

The other beds in this sector are the Jerusalem Artichokes and the Yams, which still need harvesting from the previous season.  The artichokes haven’t been dug up as we’ve been away, but a few roast dinners and hearty soups should take care of that.  With the Yams I’m still waiting for the foliage to die down.  I’m taking the fact that there is still some lingering foliage as a positive sign of some kind of harvest as I’m sure the flooding won’t have done them any favours.  Maybe I need to raise their beds higher still.

Jerusalem Artichokes
I should really get onto to harvesting the Jerusalem Artichokes as the rain seems to have begun the job by washing the soil away

So the upshot is I need to harvest the artichokes so I don’t overcrowd the bed – I’ve already had to mend it twice as the little blighters are prolific and keep trying to escape!  Even leaving one behind would be enough.  And I need to buy more Yams as seed stock for the new season – you could save your own, but I’ve only ever had tiddlers.  The best place to get them is the produce section of the supermarket.  While I’m waiting for mine to be harvested I’ll buy a handful for the table and a handful for the garden.

The theory is you should wait for the foliage to completely die down before digging up the Yams but there is still some stubborn stems and a lot of tiddlers littering the surface. I hope there are some bigger ones underground. To be honest I don’t think our climate is quite right, but I can’t help but try… you never know one day one season will conspire to bring about the perfect conditions…

The other worry-free bed is the onions, which should be in by now, but we’ve been away and now it is too soggy.  I am pleased that I did take the step of popping them in single cells with rich soil and leaving them outdoors while we were away as they are much bigger and healthier than the ones left in the seed trays.  But it will dry out soon enough – well it just has too, and then I can pop my seedlings into the garden and that will be pretty much it until summer – aside from some weeding, watering and feeding.

Onion seedlings
While not in the garden bed, these onion seedlings are on top of it and exposed to all the elements they would have if they were in the soil and aside from being a tad windswept they are doing well and can wait until the conditions are more favourable for this gardener.

But I need to plan ahead here as once the onions come out in early summer I don’t want to waste the space so the melons will go in their place.  I normally start these off in October but leave them in the greenhouse well into November when the warmth is more consistent.  I have enough large pots to keep moving these on as they will no doubt out grow their pots several times before those onions decide they’ve had enough of dwelling in the soil.

Sugarbaby Watermelon
I love how on hot days when the heat is so energy sapping that it is exhausting to even move from the spot you have plonked yourself in and watermelon finds itself as not only a light snack but a form of liquid refreshment as well. Oh how I long for those days to come…. Although I will probably complain about how hot it is just as much as now I’m complaining about the cold!

I have already planned for a couple of orange rock melons to grow up the trellis in Sector One which should be enough of those.  But I’d like to have some green honeydews as well.  Sugarbaby watermelons also do well in my garden and they are so refreshing that they are a must.  Most of these climb well, but in the past I’ve let them sprawl, so the decision is really up or down?  If I put them up they may shade out the cucumbers and the peppers.  Shading the cucumbers wouldn’t be such a bad thing as they wouldn’t mind too much, but the peppers do like to bask in the sun.  Maybe I could do a short trellis… hmmm this requires more thought but I’ve got plenty of time to think about it.

Novella Peas
Novella peas with all their crazy tendrils are ideal to cope with the tumultuous conditions of winter. And they are tasty too!

The peas are also destined to go into bed 9 and in the past I’ve got myself into a right pickle here.  Because I’d always somehow have a cover crop growing in the soon to be pea bed, so the early spring peas were popped temporarily into the tomato bed – which is the old pea bed, only for them not to be ready in time for when the tomatoes needed to go in.   This was all a result of poor planning and reactionary gardening.  I’d see a blank spot and fill it with something not realising the knock on affect down the line.   The tomato bed does actually currently have peas in there.   This was last seasons pea bed and these are my autumn peas that ending up being my early winter peas because I had so much trouble getting them started, and here we are at mid winter and I haven’t had a single one yet, but I do have some almost fat enough pods so it isn’t far away.  They should be well gone by the time I need the bed for the tomatoes in the spring.

In the meantime the spring peas will be sorted because the cover crop that I currently have growing there, has been marked in the calendar for digging in 6 weeks before the bed is needed for the peas whether it’s ready or not.   I like to start with a more robust Novella pea that hold up to the harsh conditions of early spring, and then move on to the taller Alderman variety later on because picking peas standing up is so much easier and both of these taste delish!   I did say I wasn’t going to grow the tall ones again, because of the trouble with the wind, but I think the ‘borrowed’ sheep fencing will improve this problem no end.

Painted Mountain Corn
Painted Mountain Corn is such a fun thing grow. This season I hope to grow enough to turn into something more than funky table decorations.

I may pop in a sneaky 3rd crop of peas as the season progresses – it really depends on how hot things get as peas don’t really like it hot. Or I may move on to using the space for more exciting things.  Last season I followed my peas with some Painted Mountain Corn which is such fun to grow.   Then once these come out I can resow more peas for the autumn harvest.

Butternut squash
Butternut squash bring such versatility to our winter diets that I wouldn’t be without them. Tonight I’ll be turning one into a heartwarming Thai Pumpkin Soup that will cut through the chill of our current winter weather.

The zucchini and butternuts will be in bed 10 and I have found I can control the zucchini best by tying them up to a sturdy pole.  I love the yellow ones, but also want a dark green one for contrast because it will look cool on the plate.  There are plenty of other cool ones but as we all know there is such a thing as too many zucchini and at our place two plants are on the upper limits of excess.  Butternuts can climb and in the past they are mostly contained but have a tendency to sprawl over the edge of the bed, so I may look at creating some kind of climbing frame for them.  We’ll see.

The last bed in this sector is the tomato bed, where the peas currently are, but tomatoes are a special thing and deserve a post of their own.

Come again soon – we can wax lyrical about all that is wonderful about tomatoes.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

4 thoughts on “Planning the Garden – Stuck in the Middle

  1. Wow, we sure would love some of that rain if you could send us a bit. We are in a drought that is getting worse everyday. One farmer told me that at this point even hail would be welcome moisture. I am not sure if I agree on that part, but currently cutting hay is scary because of the fires it could start.

    1. You have given me pause for thought – I was wanting the rain to stop and the new season to be a dry one that I was even willing to accept a drought over another sodden summer, but a drought would definitely be out of the frying pan and into the fire! I hope you get rain soon and that our summer is just an ordinary one with the right amount of rainy and sunny days. : o)

  2. Here we are entering the bounty of summer, and just beginning to deal with harvest, and there you are, shutting down the garden and filled with plans for the next one. Isn’t it fun having the “full circle” of experiences all at once. I can’t wait to see what you are growing next spring!

    1. It really doesn’t feel that long ago that it was reversed and I was the one with all the fresh produce. I enjoy watching Northern gardens flourishing, but I find myself getting anxious with each new harvest as it draws us closer to spring. There is always this impression that winter is a long season, but it soon races by. It is still a good thing as all aspects of gardening can be enjoyed at any time either vicariously or in real time – it is the best hobby. : o)

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