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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Seedy thoughts

Preparing for the growing year means you have to make a few decisions. I have to make a fair amount of decisions! I spread out all the seeds I have onto the kitchen table, and I was more than mildly surprised.

Vegetable seed collection
Many seeds

There are more seeds than I can grow by far. My evening will now consist of agonising over which ones to grow and which ones will remain in the box. Maybe. I do think plans have to be flexible, as you never know.

For example I bought some sweet pepper seeds, from a reputable source. All but one failed to germinate. The one plant that grew produced a single solitary pepper! This was my first attempt at sweet peppers and I had no other seeds to try. Feeling despondent, I did not bother buying any more pepper seeds that season. The following year I invested in some more, hoping it was simply a bad batch. I was right, the new seeds germinated much better and I grew five healthy plants.

There are many reasons why seeds don’t germinate, and it isn’t always anything to do with you. Some seasons are just better than others. Some seeds have to be fresher than others. Sometimes the conditions are just not quite right.

Now, I prefer to have a selection of varieties so I have a back up plan. Or if I change my mind. Or if I simply cannot resist the feeling you get when you see the little green shoots pop their heads up above the soil for the first time.

Little packages of loveliness

Some seeds are small, uninteresting and nothing to get excited about. Other seeds are fiddly and a pain in the rear to handle. Others, are just delightful to look at!

Runner bean seeds
Runner bean seeds

These are just common old runner beans (or pole beans). I don’t know the variety, but they have the standard bright red flower and long beans. I have saved the seeds every year and these must be the fourth generation of seeds I have saved to grow the next year. They are just gorgeous!

It still amazes me that something so small contains everything to grow a brand new plant, flowers, and the edible results . It’s also a very frugal way of gardening and brings great satisfaction knowing that you raised the plant, and will continue with its “offspring” year after year.

So, I will try and reduce the number of seeds that I plan to grow. I will let you know what I decide on. Watch this space!