Starting afresh – Autumn to Spring plans

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OK, I admit the summer was a bit of a disaster in the garden for me. The incessantly changing weather was too much of a challenge for many of my crops. The lettuce bolted, the tomatoes suffered, and it all meant I lost my garden mojo.

However, I have to start afresh and look forward to next year. Some plans are already in place. I have planted my garlic from two of the best bulbs that I grew this year.

Garlic bulb var. Marco
One of my best garlic bulbs, var. Marco (autumn planting).

I selected the best cloves from these bulbs and planted them, an inch or so below the surface, in one of my raised beds. Just make sure when you are planting garlic that you dib a hole in the ground first. The flat or bottom end of the garlic can be damaged if you just push it in. This is where the roots will grow from.

Does anything grow in winter?

In short yes! I have some rainbow chard or Swiss chard which is still growing well despite daytime temperatures being in single figures (centigrade). My perpetual spinach is growing like mad, and I have many flowers still going for it!

I have many spring bulbs to plant in the coming weeks. They should really be in now, but Monty Don says he will be happy if they are in by Christmas, so there is no need to panic.

I have selected these bulbs to plant, and have already planted some snowdrops and wood anemones in the garden. A strip of land along the bottom of the garden by the fence has been sown with some cornfield annual wildflowers, and perennial wildflowers. The annuals will be like a protective crop to the perennials, which won’t come into their own until the following year (2021, wow, that seems so far away!) Next spring the cornfield annuals will put on a lovely display, I hope!

Soon it will be time to think about what other crops and flowers I want to grow. I have so many seeds I may not need to buy any more. Potatoes however, will be bought as fresh seed.

What are your plans for spring, have you grand plans, or just a couple of pots? Tell me!

Whatever you do, I hope it brings joy, do a little something every now and then and it will soon add up.

Take care during the winter and dream of spring!

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Garden update Monday 4th February

Here on the border of Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire we avoided the worst of the weather last week. This was to the delight of some and disappointment of others.

It did, however, allow me some bonus time in the garden. I was very happy about this as I was expecting to get very little done due to the impending weather crisis. I needed inspiration this week. Spending a couple of hours in the winter sun does give me a real lift.

A little disappointment

Firstly, I had to plant some spring bulbs. I had forgotten about a bag of mixed bulbs. I discarded some of the bulbs. sadly. They had gone mouldy. This was my fault as I left them in a padded envelope with no ventilation.

Fortunately, I salvaged most of the bulbs, and I have a few more pots which will hopefully bring some glorious spring colour.

There are Puschkinia (Russian snowdrops), Daffodils (Tete a Tete), Ipheion (mixed), and Fritillaria (Uva-Vulpa) in various combinations.

Pots with spring bulbs
Pots with spring bulbs

Then, off to the local garden centre I went, as I felt an urge for instant gratification. The garden seemed drab. I needed colour, and I needed it now. As I had a voucher for £4 off a £20 spend, what more justification did I need?

So, voucher in hand, I added these beautiful primroses to my basket. In addition followed some daffodils, irises, tulips and snowdrops in the green. This means that they have already started to grow.

Primroses
Primroses

Admittedly, I felt a little naughty for buying them. However should the worst happen and my own bulbs fail to grow, I will have some colour in the garden this spring.

One thing I do like is to have choices and back up plans. Putting all your eggs in one basket runs the risk of disappointment.

Getting on with it

I have a lot of seeds. These are just the vegetable seeds. I need to trim this down a bit!

Many seeds
Many seeds

I simply don’t have the physical space to grow everything here, so I will narrow this down to maybe one third. There are a few duplicates in there and some I may will never grow. These are often freebies bundled with other things that I did want to keep. There are a handful of vegetables that I
really dislike. For example squash, celery and aubergine will never feature on my plot.

Once I have decided what to grow, the seeds need to be sorted into sowing months. I sort my seeds by the first month given to sow. The beauty of nature is that if you forget, have a failed batch or simply don’t have time or space, another later sowing will catch up.

Fortunately, many seeds can be sown over a period of months. This is great for things like peas and carrots where you want to stagger your harvests. There are only so many peas you can eat at once. And they don’t usually feature for breakfast!

Don’t panic!

There is still plenty of time to buy seeds and decide what to sow. Many garden centres are having a clear out and you can pick up packets of seed for 50p or less. Often they will have a year or more left to sow them. I would advise to buy only the freshest seeds for parsnips however. They are notoriously bad for germination and old seeds are almost certainly going to fail.

Nonetheless, I find it exciting to make plans for the year ahead and think about the delicious results to come.

What are your seed plans?

Garden update Monday 21st January

Despite threats of freezing weather, it was pleasant enough to get out in the garden today. Lovely and sunny, 6 degrees centigrade and there was no breeze. Almost perfect!

So, I got to work planting tulip bulbs in some fresh multipurpose compost with a few handfuls of horticultural grit to aid drainage. Tulips don’t like wet feet!

Tulip var. Lambada

Firstly I put a layer of the compost/grit mix about 3 inches (7.5cm) deep in the bottom of the pot. I used a fairly big pot, about 12 inches (30cm) deep. Next, I placed the bulbs, pointy side up, on this layer. Can you can see they are raring to go, with little shoots poking out of them already.

Lambada bulbs in pot

Then, cover them gently until you fill the pot up to about one inch (2.5cm) from the top. Tap the pot gently to remove any air pockets, and tamp down the surface lightly. Water well and place in a sunny spot. Don’t forget to label them! I use lolly sticks for plant labels, as they can be composted.

Plant labels

I repeated this with another gorgeous variety, Purple Flag.

Tulip var. Purple Flag

Lastly I fed the birds. The nights have been quite cold, down to -4 degrees centigrade. Its really important that we supplement their food, and keep doing it. Birds do come to rely on food we put out. If we stop then the birds may have wasted a lot of energy to find nothing to eat. Put just enough out for a few days so the food is always fresh. In my garden it never lasts more than a day!

What bulbs are you going to plant for spring?