Winter Veg Plans

I have got my gardening mojo back. Thank goodness. Turns out that while there was (and still is) quite a lot to be done in the garden, it doesn’t all have to be done at once. The rather unsettled weather has put paid to long stints in the garden so by doing a bit here and a bit there, progress has been made, I have stopped burying my head in the sand and I am generally feeling a lot more positive. Just doing a bit of dead heading and getting rid of untidy bits of dead foliage can make quite a difference.

In my last update I had decided against dead heading the dwarf buddleia (probably due to the misguided belief that it was a mammoth task) but I had a change of heart. And I am glad that I did. It has indeed flowered again. Not quite as enthusiastically as before but there are lots of little blooms on it now, so I am pleased that I did.

As things finish producing or have been consumed, my thoughts are turning to the next phase of the veg patch. Currently it looks like this:

The current veg patch layout. Salad crops and potatoes happen on the terrace in smaller raised beds and sacks respectively.

But I have decided on a big reorganisation. I want to get more winter crops going. So my current thoughts are that I am going to completely clear beds 2 & 3. The onions are ready to come out anyway and be dried ready for storing. The courgettes in bed 2, while still producing, are surplus to requirements so they are coming out. The 3 other plants at the back of the garage are loving life and producing more than enough courgettes for us and several neighbours (approx 10-15 per day). Whether it’s the view or the all day sun trap, they are doing very amazingly well. As previously documented, the asparagus bed has been a disaster and has become overwhelmed by bindweed which sneaks under the fence from next door. So, I will let bed 1 run its course with the current crops which are doing well and keep it free for early spring planting next year. So that leaves me with the other 2 raised beds that measure 1.5m x 3m each. What to put in them….?

I read an article recently about perennial veg and got quite excited at the prospect of things like Babington Leeks and Jerusalem artichokes and the idea of being able to harvest while just letting them get on with it. But then I realised that asparagus is a also a perennial vegetable and that has not suited me or my veg patch at all. They take up lots of room, have a relatively short cropping season and it’s hard dealing with perennial weeds without digging them up.  So I have shelved this idea. Aside from some wild garlic which I am going to plant under the apple tree, I am steering clear of perennial veg.

Here is what I am planning instead:

  • Carrots (F1 Bangor). I grew carrots for the first time this year and thought they were brilliant. Some very odd shapes but very tasty. Strictly speaking, the last month for sowing direct for this variety was July but I have never really been a stickler for rules and I figure that the worst that can happen is that they don’t get very big. They will be harvested by February so won’t be taking up space for Spring planting.
  • Beetroot (Bulls Blood). These can be sown into August and harvestable from March. I love beetroot but none of my beet crops have done well this year because of beet fly. I had not been aware of it before and thought beetroot was fairly bomb-proof but apparently it has been a bad year for them. The larvae hang around in the soil for some time so I will have to sow this lot elsewhere.
  • Perpetual spinach. As with the carrots, these should really have gone in last month but I reckon it’ll be alright….
  • Chard and Winter salad mix. These will be made possible by an order of ‘Winter Veg Mix’ plugs. The Chard will go into bed 2 with the above seeds and the winter salad into the salad beds on the terrace.
  • I am going to fill the third bed with 22 cauliflower plug plants which will go in next month for harvesting in April/May. I would have preferred to grow from seed but I just didn’t get organised in time so I have ordered them. How very unlike me….
  • Cavolo nero. Why not? What’s the worst that can happen?
  • Pak Choi. In the greenhouse.

Sadly, I have missed the boat on winter squash but will try and get my head around that for next year.

Away from the veg patch, I am going to try my hand at taking cuttings this week. Of hydrangeas and roses. Monty made it look very easy this week on GW. But then doesn’t he always…?

There is quite a lot of new territory for me here so I expect a steep learning curve but that is how it works with me. I learn through trial and error. Mostly error ….

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