After much deliberation I have a plan… of sorts. Outlined below is the first half. These are the beds where there will be no change really as they aren’t part of the crop rotation, so they are easy enough to deal with. So, this is what I’ll be doing with my permanent beds.
The Annual Herbs
Winter: I will try and keep all of these going as long as possible with succession planting of dill and coriander often to try and keep a continual supply but eventually the end will come.
Spring: At some point over winter will refresh the soil for the new season and sow new herbs from seed. I won’t be growing borage again – for all that it might look pretty in summer drinks, as a plant it is a rather large and self-seeds prolifically and I’m just not that much of a sucker for a pretty face.
The Perennial Herbs
Winter: I’ll give them a prune to control size – the thyme has gone nuts! I need to refresh the parsley with new seedlings as it has gone to seed and I’m still on the lookout for French Tarragon.
Spring: There’s no change really.
The Cutting Flower Garden
Winter: I will remove the spent annuals and refresh the soil. I’ll also remove the garish pinky orange gladioli and replace with something nicer.
Spring: I will look for new flowers to replace annuals and start them from seed.
Winter: Once the fronds turn yellow, I’ll cut them back and apply enriched compost to bed.
Spring: I’m looking forward to enjoying a few 2nd year asparagus spears and then go back to waiting for the real harvest next year.
The Bee Flower Bed
Winter: This very last bed needs to finish having the soil added. Maybe I’ll plant wheat as a cover crop to use as a mulch elsewhere, as most wild flowers don’t like things too nutrient rich so it should work well.
Spring: Then once I harvest the wheat, I just need to sow seed and enjoy.
Winter: Once plants die completely down, I can see what kind of harvest I have – if any and then, replenish the soil and re-sow with more yams in the hope of a better season
Spring: All I need to do in spring is weed, feed and water and repeat all summer long.
The Globe artichokes
Winter: There isn’t a lot to be done aside from side dressing the soil with enriched compost.
Spring: Just wait for the harvest – assuming there will be one – artichoke is delish!
The Jerusalem Artichokes
Winter: This didn’t go well last season. They died before they got started. So, I need to source new tubers. I think I know where I can find some.
Spring: Once I know they are alive, I will need to set up structures to support the tall growing plants.
The Nursery Bed
Winter: It is rather decadent to have a bed set aside to grow seedlings in but over the autumn it will come into its own as I use it as a seed raising bed for the winter crops.
Spring: I should use this bed like a cold frame to help harden plants off.
Winter: This is another set and forget plant and all I need to do is side dress with loads of well-rotted organic material and wait.
Spring: Finally harvest stalks after trying hard to follow the rules last season about not picking any in the first year. All I can say is the wind made me do it – if it was going to loosen them, then it would be a waste not to use them!
Winter: In an ideal world they would be part of the crop rotation – they are sooo big! So, I need to pay careful attention to make sure their soil stays healthy. So, once I harvest the pumpkins, I’ll re-enrich the soil and grow a cover crop – possibly mustard to clean soil. Adding loads of organic material to the soil will also help with moisture retention in the heat of summer.
Spring: I will dig in the cover crop 6 – 8 weeks before I need the beds (which is about 6 – 8 before the last frost – if we get them) or before the cover crop flowers – whichever comes first to allow the organic material to rot down and become incorporated into the soil. In the meantime, I’ll start the new pumpkins from seed under glass.
The Bonus Flower Bed
Winter: This was an unexpected bed in front of the chicken coop and last season I just dumped in my left-over flower seedlings. This time I need to decide what to actually do with it to make a nice display at the end of the garden. I know I want sweet peas so will sow them in winter.
Spring: I will put my master plan for this garden into action and sow seeds and source plants – maybe a rose or two with a nice smell and fat hips.
And in the Fruit beds:
The Raspberries and Boysenberry
Winter: I used to have a raspberry that fruited in summer and autumn but the pruning technique was confusing so when I got the opportunity to get new ones I got 3 summer ones and 3 autumn ones and so all I need to do is cut the autumn ones back to the ground and take the canes out of the summer ones that have already fruited and the same for the boysenberry. Then all they need is a side dress with enriched compost.
Spring: As they grow, I’ll just tie them into the trellis and wait for an abundant crop.
The Currants and 1st Year Strawberries
Winter: The currants will need a prune – damaged and crossed branches and to train it into a nice open shape with good airflow. The strawberries just need a tidy up and remove the runners. These will become next year’s 2-year-old plants. Then I’ll side dress with enriched compost for all the plants in the bed.
Spring: This will entail weeding, feeding and watering and before the season is out there will be gobbling up delicious berries.
The 2nd & 3rd Year Strawberries
Winter: Although technically they aren’t 3 years old yet, I will remove the plants with the 3rd year strawberry sign and replace them with runners to create next year’s 1-year old plants. It might seem harsh, but you have to start somewhere to get a rotation cycle going so you only have 1st, 2nd and 3rd year old plants all performing at their optimum. Then I’ll clean up the 2nd year plants and remove runners. These will become next year’s 3-year olds.
Spring: I’ll weed, feed, water and gorge myself on big fat berries until I can’t take it anymore!
The Blueberries and Gooseberries
Winter: These may need a prune, but they are young and small so probably not. Then I’ll clear the spent cape gooseberries. They self-seed terribly but are good to eat so it is best they stay put from year to year. For the sake of everyone in this bed the soil will get a side dress and a jolly good re-enrich.
Spring: In the hopes of a fabulous harvest I will weed, feed, water and sow new cape gooseberries to go with the ones that will inevitably pop up on their own.
And now I know what I will be doing with half of the garden, I need to take a deep breath and work out what need to do with the other half.
Come again soon – for the next exciting installment of my new season planning.
Sarah the Gardener : o)