Now that most of the plants are in place, I can begin to think of the next phase of the garden with enthusiasm. I have been really looking forward to this stage. It is the only real gentle period in the garden aside from winter. But winter is full of frustration as the plants to tend are few and far between and even if there were some, it is too cold and miserable to want to, so it doesn’t count.
This wee window before Christmas is the perfect time to establish routines. To find an ebb and flow and allow it to become an established part of the rhythm of life while the garden is still young and fresh, before the weeds sneak back in and the harvest begins in earnest. There is such a temptation at this stage to rest on my laurels and sit back and take a well-earned break to celebrate the effort to get to this point.
However, this would be foolhardy. The garden would quickly turn from a place of proactive pleasure to reactive torturous chore. It would become a nightmarish world where you wouldn’t know where to start first as each bed would require more effort than the previous one. The enjoyment of the garden will be replaced with stress and anxiety. I can’t allow that to happen to my beloved garden.
I’ve divided the garden in to five sectors. That is one for each day of the week, with the weekends free for family time. There are seven beds in each sector and one extra option for general maintenance and things beyond the garden itself. It may seem like a lot, but with the attitude of little and often, most beds shouldn’t need more than a tickle all season.
Well that is the theory and I really hope it works. There will be a re-doubling of efforts in the new year, but that’s what happens when there is a festive season in the middle of the growing season. But then the garden will slip back into the ebb and flow, allowing me to take pleasure in processing the harvest instead of rushing through it before the next wave of weeding calls me away from the kitchen.
All going to plan, this will be a well organised season. Well for the things in my control. I can keep the weeds down, the plants fed, the edges neat and tidy and everything well-watered. What I can’t control is the weather. If the extraordinarily soggy start to spring and the extremely windy conditions today are anything to go by I’m not sure I can count on the illusive perfect summer, but there is always hope.
I can’t control the pests and disease either. Last year was a battle of epic proportions with blight in both my tomatoes and spuds. The Cabbage White Butterflies were out in epic proportions last year, and as the guava moth and the Tomato and Potato Pysllid make more of a foothold as they spread across the country – it is only time before they show up in my garden to take advantage of all I have created. But with my new sector schedule, I will be able to keep a closer eye out for the first signs and crush them before they destroy my crops.
So starting first thing Monday I shall be taking care of the beds in the blue zone: The herbs aren’t looking too bad as the last of the basil and coriander went in this weekend. I could sow more coriander as it does tend to bolt when the weather heats up. There is space for something else so I may take a trip to the garden centre…
Also in the blue zone is the peas – which need a weed and a bit of control as they are all over the place instead of clinging nicely to my trellis. I’ll sort them out. The spuds are just doing their thing and look lovely. The foliage has filled the bed so now there is no room for weeds – but I’ll check to make sure. The Red Currants, now they are in flower and forming wee berries could do with a feed.
There is a slight problem with the zucchini & squash, cucumbers & melons and the beans. The beds are still … ummm… empty but planting / tending – same thing. The seedlings are now big enough and have been hardening off and are good to go. The soil is now warm enough for bean seeds and I don’t mind the delay there as to be honest we don’t like beans all that much. Although there are the broad beans – they are nearly ready to strip of all the pods and find creative ways to disguise that unique bean flavour. Pickling works well!
And then there are the ‘pots’. This is a loose label for anything in a pot that needs some love as the container plants have historically been lost in the busyness of it all and normally end up dry and crispy. Well not this year. But this Monday will be for the repotting of the extras to prepare them for their new lives in someone else’s garden.
That should be enough to keep me out of mischief. I love it when a plan comes together.
Come again soon – The garden has entered a new phase.
Sarah the Gardener : o)