Wednesday, 25 November 2009
I'm not going to be allowed to do any lifting or heavy work for the next month or so, so I spent most of my weekend finishing off the autumn heavy work in the garden. Our allotment partner (whose garden starts at the line of brassicas in the background) told us to have the bottom portion of the garden as well as the middle section, so I weeded it, dug it over lightly to continue the N-S narrow beds, and sowed them all with winter rye. It felt really good to have that all done, even if I have the blisters on my hands to prove it.
There are two sets of six beds in this garden, which from left to right this year will be the permanent vegetable bed (for the likes of asparagus, artichoke, perennial cauliflower, saffron crocus etc, but half of which is under barley at the moment) and then in a 5-bed rotation, the grain bed (currently half sown in wheat), the pea/bean bed, the salad, melon, tomato and squash bed, the brassica-and-root-crop bed (currently half is sown with garlic) and the potato bed (currently half is sown with broad beans for spring). I normally grow my veg in a glorious melange, but as this year I'm trying to grow veg for storing as well as immediate consumption, I'm going for a more traditional crop rotation approach, using companion planting and a few permaculture techniques, of course.
I also finished planting out the last of the autumn onion sets and garlic cloves. The onions are mostly in the second veggie patch in a friend's backyard (that was my potato patch this year). Many years ago I started to monitor our annual useage of vegetables, and to sow quantities to match that, allowing for losses. So far we have about 150 onions and 200 cloves of garlic planted, with more onions to go in in the spring (we use about 300 onions and 100 heads of garlic each year). We aim to be able to grow all our onions, garlic and shallots and also beans this year. So far I've planted two and a half packets of autumn-sown broad beans for spring veg, giving roughly 200 plants in two double-rows in a 5-metre bed. I'll sow more in spring for a succession, but by the time these are done, in late spring/early summer the bed will be ready to receive the year's potatoes. We'll eat some of the broad beans fresh (I absolutely love broad beans), and dry some for later in the year. The shallots are yet to go in, but will go into the ground during December. Also during December, I'll manure the bed that will hold potatoes next year as well as the bed for peas and beans, and lime the brassica bed, ready for spring planting. I've already mulched the home veggie garden with manure, compost and leaf mold so it can rot in over winter.
That's almost all of my autumn/winter planting complete: outdoor pak choi, garlic, onions, broad beans and shallots. I got some autumn brassicas in earlier in the autumn, but missed the weather window for autumn-sown peas and asparagus crowns. I'll get them in spring instead. But I'll have leeks, stored potatoes, the last of the slowly ripening tomatoes, cabbage, stored beans, kale, spinach and greenhouse-sown salad greens to get me through the winter. I'm planning to purchase some raspberry canes and heel them in one of the garden beds while I clear their bed (which is what looks like a hedge at the side of the allotment in the photo above) of blackberry and dig and prepare their trench over winter. Hopefully I'll be able to move them to their permanent bed late in the winter.
I now plan to spend much of December going through my garden plans and making sure I have space for everything, and ordering the seeds I need for spring. I've already made a start, with a pre-order for 10 hops rhizomes to complement the barley. *grin*
My allotment partner and I also bodged some temporary repairs to the greenhouse, as the windy weather was getting behind it and shifting the glass:
Hopefully this will hold until spring when more permanent repairs can be done.