No Hibernation for Me

I have spent a lot of time trying to put all my ducks in a row so I can stay on top of things this winter.   Ordinarily winter is a time to wind down and ease up on the gardening, however, I have an exciting project in late spring that will take me away from the garden for 20 days.  This is a long time in late spring to be away.  However, if I am organised this shouldn’t be a problem for the garden.  Once the garden is planted out, it enters a brief sweet spot when it just needs watering, weeding and a tiny bit of tending.   I suspect Hubby the Un-Gardener will get a crash course in gardening and will be required to send daily updates.

winter plan

This is my schedule for the next 14 weeks. I made the items ‘do by’ dates instead of starting points so I know when it should be done by to stop me dragging my heels.

The key to this is being organised.  I have had springs in the past where I constantly feel like I am behind where I should be and often this is down to my own procrastination or inadequate sense of timing where I feel like winter is a long season and I’d have plenty of time to do things.  If you are on a mission, winter is actually a short season when you take out the bad weather days.  It is in these ill prepared seasons that I’m preparing beds moments before planting seedlings.  In an ideal world it is good to allow prepared beds to settle for a week or two to take care of opportunistic weeds, but also allow the micro communities to make the soil all the more welcoming to the new plants.

Onion seedlings

In the spirit of staying one step ahead of the season, the onion seedlings are ready to go into prep-prepared garden beds in a couple of weeks.

Plants still do well in hastily prepared beds, but if the beds were pre-prepared then there is one less pressure in a hectic spring.  At this point a lot of the beds are in a state of control for this time of year – which essentially means, they have been cleaned of all the old crops and are now supporting luscious looking cover crops.   This is great because the nutrients bound by the plants and the soil itself are protected from the harmful effects of the winter weather.

Lupin cover crop

The cover crops do make the garden look lush and alive.

But at some point, it will need to be removed.  I have given up digging them in as that is as tedious as trying to herd kittens and is hard work.  My new plan is to chop them up small enough to drop on the surface, add the other enrichment ingredients and top it off with a nice thick layer of compost.  The key to this is to get it done in good time for the cover crop to rot down and be absorbed into the soil structure.  It is supposed to take 6 – 8 weeks.  But also, it needs to be done if good timing for the cover crop itself – before it starts to flower and become all woody.

Mustard cover crop

This flowering mustard cover crop is ready to be ‘dug in’.

So, it is my plan to form another routine alongside the hoeing and the weeding to prepare a bed or two a week for the spring.  Currently I have 9 beds with cover crops, 3 that a good to go for the new season, 8 that need a good tidy up and will be made spring ready without the cover crop and 5 that are ok for now but will need work later.  And a handful of small beds that need varying degrees of love.   It does seem manageable, but only if I break it up into small bursts of effort.

Garden plan

The state of the vegetable garden right now at the start of winter.

Aside from the vegetable patch, there are other things that need to be done.  Some are larger maintenance tasks.  I need to finish irrigating the entire garden.  I have 2 sectors left but have been put off by all the digging needed to connect all the beds underground.  Winter is the best time for this as the wet sand makes a good trench and won’t cave in on itself as it does when the sand is dry.   Also a complete irrigation system will make it easy for Hubby the Un-Gardener in the late spring.

irrigation

It would be nice to remove these tripping hazards as well as being able to water 6 beds at the touch of a button.

I also need to do some serious work in the sector five, starting with a windbreak.  The wind rolls off the dome and has undermined the strawberry bed which is in desperate need of a repair.  This can coincide with doing the winter sort out of the berries, so I’ll need to fit this in somewhere.

Tractor

I feel confident The Palace is on track because I had a little help.

Then there is building the rock and completing the first room in The Palace.  There is an actual deadline for this so I can’t be tardy.  But I feel confident I’m tracking well to get this done.   Optimistically this winter I also want to landscape at the back door because I’m sick of the sand coming in the house and the wildlife pond needs a bit of love.

Wildlife pond

I have a few plans to spruce up the wild life pond.

And of course, all the computer gardening that is required of me.  Some I enjoy immensely, like writing blogs and articles and some not so much, like doing the weekly accounts for our family business.  But all of the computer gardening falls easily into a rhythm due to the nature of deadlines, and in winter can take priority on frosty mornings.

Heuchara

I am trying to gather my resources well in advance so I can tackle projects without delay. These Heuchara are destined for the backdoor project.

As much as it would be good to stay in bed a little longer on a cold winter day, I need to wrap up warm and push ahead.  I’m not sure if I’ve taking on too much, but if you don’t try you won’t achieve.

Come again soon – this winter needs to be productive.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

13 Comments on “No Hibernation for Me

  1. This winter I’m trying to get chickens in a row! Then the busy time will hit in summer, with lots of garden infrastructure to be worked on while the earth isn’t soggy (we’ve got a very different soil from yours!)

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  2. Goodness, Sarah the Gardener, your garden is absolutely gorgeous. You definitely live up to your moniker! 🙂

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  3. Mustard was a cover crop in the old orchards of the Santa Clara Valley, but also works as a vegetable. It is naturalized here, so produces plenty of greens without any maintenance! It is rad!

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  4. You are so organized. I love a good plan. However I’m happy to watch you from the sidelines and keep my veggie garden on the small side. I am however on a mission to lay cardboard and mulch over most of my lawn and grow a forest garden. I’m probably about three quarters of the way there. Isn’t it amazing how unique we each are?😎

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