Gardening Monthly – Winter Dreaming

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With all the cold and ferocious weather we’ve had of late, it’s been a nearly a week since I’ve been up to the allotment. Only half of my beds are dug over for the autumn and worryingly, a couple of them rather resemble rice patties after all the rain we’ve been visited with. If this fair weather holds though, I’ll be spending the rest of the week surveying the damage and getting busy with the rest of the digging.

Although my bountiful summer harvest is now only a memory, there are some treats still waiting for the pot: Jerusalem Artichokes, Kale, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Beetroot, Brussel sprouts and even Swiss Chard are all doing well as of this time last week. Though I haven’t planted many cabbages this year, I’ve pledged to devote a small bed to them in the next season – they say the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence but with me it’s cabbages.

After my digging is complete, only the occasional visit will bring me up to my plot until early next year. And so it will be next year’s hopefully glorious growing season that will keep me daydreaming on frosty winter’s days. Over the weekend I received a parcel of seeds and onion sets for next year – just sorting through them jump-started my excitement for spring to roll around. I’ve already begun plans for my planting strategy for next year but am sure that revising it a few more times will happen by next spring. Though my husband likes to chuckle a bit at my plans, this is gardening and no laughing matter!

I’ve had successes and challenges this year and making a plan which recognises both will only make my plot more productive and more satisfying next year. Our earliest bed of sweet corn really took advantage of the sun and produced two and sometimes three large ears per plant. The second bed, planted only two weeks later, barely grew a metre tall. And the bizarre and unfamiliar to most Kohlrabi proved to be a major hit with us – cut into chunks and roasted simply with olive oil, they are the perfect accompaniment for a Sunday roast.

I love experimenting with different types and varieties of veg and some of the more interesting ones growing on my plot next year will be Tomatillos, Strawberry Sticks, and giant Pumpkins. Actually it will be my other half who is in charge of the pumpkins since he is determined to have the largest ones in the allotment next year.

Though many gardeners choose to grow acres of ‘Spuds-n-Sprouts’ I find that it’s much more satisfying to grow a large variety of plants – especially veg that is either expensive in the shops or can’t be found there at all. You’ll also find many different flowers growing in the nooks and crannies of my beds. Some of them are there to combat pests but others are there for pure enjoyment. Because of this, our plates are more diverse and exciting and my garden the more beautiful.

So the daydreaming begins.. And while the rain is pounding and the wind is whistling around our cottage this winter the seeds of next year’s garden sleep in the cupboard. The only growing they’ll be doing for awhile will only be in my mind.

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