Flat Summer and a (hopefully) Productive Winter


Compost and pricked out kale seedlings

Summer is jogging on, with or without those of us who might resent the pasty-pale fishbelly whiteness of our legs. The longest day was nearly two weeks ago and yet summer remains totally unyielding in it's willingness to provide the bright, sunny days which might help to mark the difference between this season and any other slightly damp and clammy time of year.

'It's England, darling.' Remarks OH, in a slightly prideful tone. He's perfectly content to be wearing trousers this time of year and tells me about how we're actually lucky to be so far north in the world and not be colder. He goes on, something about currents, while I wistfully stalk state-side and continental friends and watch my courgette flowers sulk.

I suppose the lack of enthusiasm for the current state of the season makes it all the more appropriate for planning the winter veg patch. I ordered hardy kale and cabbage seeds a few weeks ago (while stubbornly wearing my flip-flops) and have just been pricking out the trays of seedlings to grow on in pots before planting in their final positions.

Much of what I've read from the brilliant How to Grow Winter Vegetables by C. Dowding has been part of my evolving attitude to growing things and the dull months of winter. That and becoming a bit bored of looking out onto empty veg patches of frozen bare earth. Next year I hope to have beds that have a semblance to some sort of adapted rotation system, but for the moment, my beautiful brassicas will have to make do with where I put them.  There are five beds to choose from:

The patch. Apoligies for the bin liner and eyes peering out over the rosemary bush, my increasingly desperate attempts to scar off the $&*"ing pigeons.

The longest in the back against the brick wall is already inhabited by purple and white sprouting broccoli and some of the beautiful 'Redbor' kale which will look wonderful growing in front of the silvery green leaves of the broccoli.

The long and wide end bed bordering the forsythia hedge (hatehatehate) is home to a crop of potatoes, red brussel sprouts, more 'Redbor' kale and two red and green ballhead spring cabbages. Could be some space after the potatoes come out, or I might choose to grow some winter salads there.

There are two identical square shaped beds and the final, long middle bed. The middle bed is full to bursting with various strawberries, gooseberries and 2 rhubarb plants, plus some rootstocks which are growing on before being budded or grafted later. The two square beds, however, will be pretty empty once my summer crops are taken out, and are looking like prime targets for the kale. Some leeks, chard, winter salad greens and a scattering of winter-flowering pansies should keep things interesting despite the grey months, and this will be my first winter of trying to maintain some sort of continued cropping throughout the winter and early spring months.

Junk mail turned pigeon scarer.

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  1. That sounds like a great winter selection. I hope they do well for you. Are you growing onions and garlic as well - a good third of my beds at the moment are filled with alliums?

  2. No, I missed the pre-frost dates to sow my garlic cloves and had to leave all my lovingly planted onion sets behind at our previous house. I will be planting them this autumn for sure though! I get through tons of garlic each year and the fresh green stuff has so much more flavour doesn't it?

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  4. Just discovered your blog!
    We have moved and I am still finding my feet in a very different climate to the one I come from. Thank you for all the interesting info;I hope I can grow strawberries like yours in the future . . .

  5. Glad you found me! Looks like we moved at about the same time this year, although I think you've won with eagle owl and growing your own pinapple. Envious of all the excellent things you going to be able to do in your new climate....like grow tomatoes Outside.

  6. Love the bird scarer, i still haven't worked out what that thing from Eon actually is supposed to be!


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