Sorting out the cool season garden

After much deliberation I have a plan…  of sorts.  Outlined below is the first half.  These are the beds where there will be no change really as they aren’t part of the crop rotation, so they are easy enough to deal with.  So, this is what I’ll be doing with my permanent beds.

The Annual Herbs

Winter:  I will try and keep all of these going as long as possible with succession planting of dill and coriander often to try and keep a continual supply but eventually the end will come.

Spring:  At some point over winter will refresh the soil for the new season and sow new herbs from seed.  I won’t be growing borage again – for all that it might look pretty in summer drinks, as a plant it is a rather large and self-seeds prolifically and I’m just not that much of a sucker for a pretty face.

Basil is a must have in the herb garden but it is always quick to try and set seed.

The Perennial Herbs

Winter: I’ll give them a prune to control size – the thyme has gone nuts! I need to refresh the parsley with new seedlings as it has gone to seed and I’m still on the lookout for French Tarragon.

Spring: There’s no change really.

Pizza Thyme
The Pizza Thyme obviously likes its spot in the permanent herb garden, it is attempting to take over!

The Cutting Flower Garden

Winter:  I will remove the spent annuals and refresh the soil.  I’ll also remove the garish pinky orange gladioli and replace with something nicer.

Spring:  I will look for new flowers to replace annuals and start them from seed.

I love my cut flower garden so much I never seem to cut any flowers because they look so pretty where they are!

The Asparagus

Winter: Once the fronds turn yellow, I’ll cut them back and apply enriched compost to bed.

Spring:  I’m looking forward to enjoying a few 2nd year asparagus spears and then go back to waiting for the real harvest next year.

Judging by how well these year old asparagus crowns have settled in bodes well for a bumper crop for years to come.

The Bee Flower Bed

Winter:  This very last bed needs to finish having the soil added.   Maybe I’ll plant wheat as a cover crop to use as a mulch elsewhere, as most wild flowers don’t like things too nutrient rich so it should work well.

Spring:  Then once I harvest the wheat, I just need to sow seed and enjoy.

The Yams

Winter:  Once plants die completely down, I can see what kind of harvest I have – if any and then, replenish the soil and re-sow with more yams in the hope of a better season

Spring: All I need to do in spring is weed, feed and water and repeat all summer long.

I suspect we are too warm to grow yams well – but that won’t ever stop me trying. The fun is in the trying.

The Globe artichokes

Winter: There isn’t a lot to be done aside from side dressing the soil with enriched compost.

Spring:  Just wait for the harvest – assuming there will be one – artichoke is delish!

Globe artichoke
All going well, this time next year this globe artichoke plant will be huge…

The Jerusalem Artichokes

Winter:  This didn’t go well last season.  They died before they got started.  So, I need to source new tubers.  I think I know where I can find some.

Spring: Once I know they are alive, I will need to set up structures to support the tall growing plants.

The Nursery Bed

Winter:  It is rather decadent to have a bed set aside to grow seedlings in but over the autumn it will come into its own as I use it as a seed raising bed for the winter crops.

Spring:  I should use this bed like a cold frame to help harden plants off.

The Rhubarb

Winter:  This is another set and forget plant and all I need to do is side dress with loads of well-rotted organic material and wait.

Spring:  Finally harvest stalks after trying hard to follow the rules last season about not picking any in the first year.  All I can say is the wind made me do it – if it was going to loosen them, then it would be a waste not to use them!

The Pumpkins

Winter:  In an ideal world they would be part of the crop rotation – they are sooo big!  So, I need to pay careful attention to make sure their soil stays healthy.  So, once I harvest the pumpkins, I’ll re-enrich the soil and grow a cover crop – possibly mustard to clean soil.  Adding loads of organic material to the soil will also help with moisture retention in the heat of summer.

Spring: I will dig in the cover crop 6 – 8 weeks before I need the beds (which is about 6 – 8 before the last frost – if we get them) or before the cover crop flowers – whichever comes first to allow the organic material to rot down and become incorporated into the soil.  In the meantime, I’ll start the new pumpkins from seed under glass.

Unfortunately the pumpkin don’t fit in a crop rotation cycle so I have to really look after their soil

The Bonus Flower Bed

Winter:  This was an unexpected bed in front of the chicken coop and last season I just dumped in my left-over flower seedlings.  This time I need to decide what to actually do with it to make a nice display at the end of the garden. I know I want sweet peas so will sow them in winter.

Spring: I will put my master plan for this garden into action and sow seeds and source plants – maybe a rose or two with a nice smell and fat hips.

Bonus flower bed
This space really needs some proper thought and serious design to make the end of the garden a feature, not an after thought.

And in the Fruit beds:

The Raspberries and Boysenberry

Winter:  I used to have a raspberry that fruited in summer and autumn but the pruning technique was confusing so when I got the opportunity to get new ones I got 3 summer ones and 3 autumn ones and so all I need to do is cut the autumn ones back to the ground and take the canes out of the summer ones that have already fruited and the same for the boysenberry.  Then all they need is a side dress with enriched compost.

Spring: As they grow, I’ll just tie them into the trellis and wait for an abundant crop.

With years of complicated raspberry pruning behind me, I look forward to a more simple approach and an abundant harvest.

The Currants and 1st Year Strawberries

Winter: The currants will need a prune – damaged and crossed branches and to train it into a nice open shape with good airflow.   The strawberries just need a tidy up and remove the runners.  These will become next year’s 2-year-old plants.  Then I’ll side dress with enriched compost for all the plants in the bed.

Spring: This will entail weeding, feeding and watering and before the season is out there will be gobbling up delicious berries.

Strawberry runner
Strawberries are so great at ensuring their survival. This runner is a direct descendant of a 6 pack of plants I purchased over 15 years ago!

The 2nd & 3rd Year Strawberries

Winter:  Although technically they aren’t 3 years old yet, I will remove the plants with the 3rd year strawberry sign and replace them with runners to create next year’s 1-year old plants.   It might seem harsh, but you have to start somewhere to get a rotation cycle going so you only have 1st, 2nd and 3rd year old plants all performing at their optimum.  Then I’ll clean up the 2nd year plants and remove runners.  These will become next year’s 3-year olds.

Spring: I’ll weed, feed, water and gorge myself on big fat berries until I can’t take it anymore!

The Blueberries and Gooseberries

Winter:  These may need a prune, but they are young and small so probably not.  Then I’ll clear the spent cape gooseberries.  They self-seed terribly but are good to eat so it is best they stay put from year to year.  For the sake of everyone in this bed the soil will get a side dress and a jolly good re-enrich.

Spring:  In the hopes of a fabulous harvest I will weed, feed, water and sow new cape gooseberries to go with the ones that will inevitably pop up on their own.

Cape Gooseberries
I love cape gooseberries, but these are running a little behind because they were planted late I can hardly wait!

And now I know what I will be doing with half of the garden, I need to take a deep breath and work out what need to do with the other half.

Come again soon – for the next exciting installment of my new season planning.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

9 thoughts on “Sorting out the cool season garden

      1. British?! Oh my! I got mine from my great grandfather before I was in kindergarten. I never bothered to ask where it came from. Most of the fruits and vegetables he grew were the traditional sorts of the Santa Clara Valley. Those that were not from the orchards and farms were from home gardens of those of Italian, Mexican, Spanish or Portuguese descent. I know that rhubarb was popular among white people first, but I do not think of it as British now. How compelling.

        1. I just got interested in this and so had a little look online – apparently it is originally from China and then Marco Polo took it to Europe and then it was first appeared in England in 1762 and arrived in America just before 1800! Fascinating stuff! : o)

          1. That is how I remember it too, but there is no mention of how it got to America. It was probably more popular in Northern Europe than Southern, so it is less likely that it was imported by Mediterranean people.

  1. Why do you think it’s too warm for yams? Unless they’re true yams? I grow sweet potatoes (what many call yams) and it gets quite hot here.

    1. I think there is some confusion – my fault, my Yams are called Oca (Oxalis tuberosa) in other places and completely different from sweet potato – which we call Kumara. My Kumara are currently in containers and seem to be doing well enough. Time will tell when the harvest is due! : o)

      1. Oooh, that makes sense. We don’t have oca here but reading up on them, I could see how they wouldn’t like the heat if they hail from the Andes. We use the sweet potato greens in the summers as living mulch and greens in our scrambled eggs after the spinach, chard, and other greens die off.

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