It rained in the night and will rain again today. This is a welcome relief and for once, a day out of the garden is no bad thing, I can still garden inside as I sit here looking out at the bleakness of the day. If it wasn’t for the heat of the day, even though it is still early, I could be lured into the belief that it was the kind of grey winter day I’m planning for. It sets the mood nicely and reminds me of the urgency of the preparation for winter in the way a sunny blue sky can’t.
So, I feel pleased with myself in that I know what is to be done with half of the garden and now I need to make plans for the rest. A good place to start is with what I want to grow. They are the stars of the next season and shouldn’t be lost to the reluctance of the summer crops to finish or the impatient spring crops to begin. The next season is winter and if I’m to get the most out of it then these will be my fruit.
I have made the first step in the right direction and have gathered together the seeds I need. Most were already sitting and waiting in my seed tin. I did have to go out a buy a few things as while I have broccoli and spinach in my selection, the varieties were summer ones and wouldn’t have done as well over the cool of the next season. It is important to have the right seeds to match the conditions to get the best outcome – something good to eat.
The seeds I will be growing this season are:
Peas – in order to catch the last of the warmth of the season before it gets too cold, I will be sowing these sooner rather than later.
Also to catch the lingering warmth but not expect a harvest until the other end of winter I’ll be sowing broad beans and fennel The refreshing crispness and lightness of flavour is so welcome in those early days of spring. The broad beans not so much as I still haven’t made my peace with their flavour, but growing the Hughey variety gives such lovely red flowers in late winter and early spring, so all is forgiven.
My brassicas need topping up. They are a crop that once eaten is pretty much gone – having said that you can eke them out a little longer by allowing side shoots to form instead of pulling out the whole plant at the point of harvest. And I need more kohlrabi. I love kohlrabi, it is so versatile. And I need more broccoli (a winter variety), Romanesco, and cabbage – savoy and red that were so successful this summer and there is still plenty of time to sow more.
I am also going to sow some tatsoi and buk choi in an attempt to take advantage of the cooling weather of autumn as in the rising temperatures of spring, they just bolted before I had the chance to use them. There is still time to sow these. They will also be joined in the leafy green section by some winter spinach as the summer spinach went the same way as the Asian greens and bolted too soon. I didn’t even get to make my ricotta, chicken and spinach stuffed cannelloni with fresh tomato pasta sauce. I still hanker for it even today.
I have the advantage of being able to grow spring onions, carrots, and beetroot all year round and so will continue to succession plant these for a continual supply. You really can’t beat a fresh carrot. Although it is important to check the planting times as some won’t be happy being started in the middle of winter.
I have to confess my summer salad succession planting was a complete disaster. I started off with a whiz and a bang with more lettuce than I knew what to do with but in the heat it soon bolted. It happened so quickly my supply dried up and seedlings from the garden centre took longer than expected to reach edible size. I sowed more seed several times but a moments inattention after weeks of nurturing caused them fry to a crisp in the midday sun. To be honest lettuce doesn’t like the hot weather, but we grow it because that’s when we like to eat it. It prefers the cooler temperatures of spring and autumn so all going well I will have delightful array of salads to see us as far into winter as possible. And hopefully beyond with the lambs lettuce that promises to be a superb cool weather salad ingredient.
Aside from trying to make summer last I am going to embrace the winter comfort and do some succession sowing of swedes and turnips. They are old fashioned crops not often seen and maybe that is for good reason, but we’ll see. They may surprise me in the same way other crops have in the past. Try everything once and the fun things twice.
Oh and not forgetting the onions and garlic that will be going in later on. I absolutely need to grow loads of elephant garlic – if not for the scapes alone – they were soo good!
And now all I have to do is fit these in somewhere. They will have homes to go to, but will it be the bed that was theirs or the one to be theirs? If only this season was as simple as the spring, everything has a predetermined place thanks to my summer crop rotation plan and so no thinking is required – just planting. But I’ll get there and next winter will be a doddle.
Come again soon – I have to figure out who goes where like determining place settings at a dysfunctional family wedding.
Sarah the Gardener : o)