Winter is the ideal time to plan the next season. It’s inevitable some things work out better some years than others in our gardens. It’s probable we know why. It’s possible we have control over some of those things.
Here are five things I’ll do differently next year…
1. Get protection
Plants are under attack from the weather, pests and diseases. The more protection we give them, the more likely we’ll get something to harvest. I use flower pots with the bottoms cut out to protect newly planted out seedlings from birds and slugs. Mesh fences keep out the wind and if covered with bird mesh, the birds too. Frost cloth laid over the soil helps directly sown seeds germinate by keeping them warm and moist. Next year I’ll try fine mesh to protect brassicas from cabbage white butterflies.
2. Mulch is a volume game
The bigger the area and thickness of mulch in your garden, the better. Mulching increases the humus in the soil, protects it from the weather, reduces weeds and increases the drought resistance. This study backs up what I’ve observed and recommends a layer no more than 4cm thick. Most of us are lucky if we’ve got enough to get close to that. I use mulched branches left over from tree trimming. I also shred my own prunings in a Masport petrol-powered shredder. Pine needles, seaweed and pea-straw are useful too.
3. Sow less, more often
No one wants to eat six cabbages in a week, so why do we sow six at the same time? We end up like Goldilocks eating a couple when they’re too small and a couple when they’re too big. If we‚’re lucky we eat one or two when they’re juuuust right. Much better to sow two cabbages, two broccoli and two cauliflowers one week, and do the same again a month later. You can buy selections of seedlings in a punnet if you’re not bothered about the varieties. Or you can choose what you want from Kings Seeds.
4. Try something new
It’s easy to stick to tried and tested varieties when our experiments with new crops are unsuccessful. The only tomatoes I’ll repeat next year are ‚yellow delicious and sun cherry. Of the two eggplant varieties I grew Tokyo black‚ fruited early and were prolific. Florence round purple looked gorgeous but didn’t produce enough fruit. I tried komatsuna (mustard spinach) for the first time this year, with great success. I loved my first myrtleberries or Chilean guavas. I’ve planted a Mrs. Williams fig tree and Yen Ben lemon this year. I’ll try a black passionfruit on a sunny wall next year if it can stand the light frosts we get here. The Edible Garden can help you with all your fruit tree needs.
5. Water wisely
Plants grow best when their roots get enough water. If they are thirsty and stressed they produce less and are more likely to fall victim to pests and diseases. Next year I’l remember to water deeply and thoroughly, but only when the soil needs it. The GutterWitch helps you collect water off your roof for watering your garden.