This month is about clearing up the garden and putting it to bed for the winter.
Gardening is mainly a warm weather pastime. Plants resurrect themselves in spring and then gradually as the weather warms up they start filling out and basking in the sunshine. It’s the same with people, and we generally want to take our vacations around the same time that the garden needs our help. Sometimes you have to leave it to get on with other things you want to do though.
Garden plants are babies
With a few exceptions, food plants need to be molly-coddled. They need to be kept weeded, watered, pests removed, and generally babied. They’re not as hardy as wild plants and if you turn your back on them you’ll come back to see survival of the fittest at its best.
In one way it’s interesting to see what survives when the human hand is removed. Kind of like watching documentaries of what Chernobyl is like now after the nuclear meltdown of 1986. Strawberry plants are thriving, the raspberries are just fine, and the well-mulched Oca is growing strong. Crops that have suffered the most are the greens and brassicas. My netting had some serious compromises and it looks like the local pheasants had a hey day.
The Clearing-up Begins
When I got back from my long trip around Washington State I knew that my plot would be a disaster. I even bumped into a fellow allotmenteer and voiced my fears. He said that it wasn’t “as bad as you would think”. In British terms that probably means it’s a hellish jungle. Aside from the areas that I’d had mulched with straw, it pretty much was.
Radishes and herbs had gone mad and were more like masses of muddled greens than actual plants. Underneath them I found a row of massive Kohlrabi that I’d completely forgotten about. On my first day of cleaning-up I spent about four hours pulling weeds and crops alike.
It could be worse
Aside from all the weeds, it really could have been worse. A lot of what I pulled up came with the top layer of straw that I’d spread all across areas of my garden. This layer of straw stopped most weeds from being able to germinate and will make autumn digging a lot easier.
Surprisingly there’s still a few crops that are producing right now. Globe artichokes are growing buds, the Oca tubers won’t be ready until late January-ish, and there are some greens, potatoes and Calendula flowers to take home. The winters are so mild here that you’ll sometimes find Calendula flowering all throughout the winter.
Tasks for the month
What I need to do to get my garden in order before winter arrives is to further tidy up, dig beds over on dry days, and to put in some more permanent growing structures. I have posts and wire at home that are destined to be berry supports. I also have more wood planks that need to be fitted together into another raised bed.
An hour here, a few there, and my little plot of land in Laxey will be back in shape again. Before I know it, it will be time for spring planting, then summer, then trying to figure out what to do when I go on vacation again!