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03/12/2015

Elma Family Garden Photography Pip

In the winter garden

03/12/2015

I think it’s safe to say that since I went back to work I’ve been spending a little less time in the garden.  A little less as in rather neglected. Whoops.  It’s the combination of less time spent at home, shorter days as we head towards the equinox, and rain. A lot of rain.  All of which is why I hadn’t exactly put the garden to bed or done any winter planting.

Space for the Butterflies - the Winter Garden

Space for the Butterflies - the Winter Garden

So this week, in a rare moment of almost sunshine I rounded up my two littlest helpers and we set to work.  The second bed, that this year had pre-existing strawberries, onions and garlic, is going to be just onions and garlic next year so after we’d done the weeding I lifted the strawberry plants as best I could and popped them over to be planted in the other existing bed.  I have no idea whether they’re going to survive the transplant or not, but it’s worth a shot, and if it doesn’t work then I’ll have some space all marked out for more fruit bushes.

Space for the Butterflies - the Winter Garden

That should have left us with some nice clear space for planting but down one end we found what did look like new onions.  They might have been sets which didn’t work last year, or ones we missed when we were harvesting, but I just couldn’t be sure what they were and even though I’m sure all the really keen gardeners among you are telling me I’ve just weeded a really great crop, I went with better safe than sorry; I don’t know what they are so up they came.

Space for the Butterflies - the Winter Garden

And in their place, we have some very tidy looking rows of onions and garlic. Elma, Pip and H went on a garden centre errand to choose the sets and then Elma and I planted them out while Pip crawled up and down and all over everything we were doing in delighted curiosity.  He is definitely a little boy that loves being out and about playing in the mud.  And my Elma is a lot more adventurous than last year when she didn’t really want to touch any of the soil.  She wasn’t too keen about a giant worm that made an appearance so we re-homed him to the other veg bed and that was much better. She loved the purple of the red onions and being able to break up a whole clove of garlic and “tuck them into bed” and if a few of our onions and garlic grow a bit too close together, well, it’s much friendlier with company.

Space for the Butterflies - the Winter Garden

The packets say they should be planted in the autumn and I’m pretty sure that the beginning of December is stretching the definition of autumn a bit, even if it has been very mild.  Hopefully they just mean get them planted before the ground freezes which does make sense, and I have done that; we’ve only had one frost here so far this winter and it wasn’t very severe.

Space for the Butterflies - the Winter Garden

Space for the Butterflies - the Winter Garden

So now all we have to do is watch and wait.  And weed.  This year our onions and garlic were tasty but not very big, probably because I all but forgot about the garden until they’d spent a good part of the growing season fighting with the grass and my gardening new year’s resolution will be to make sure that doesn’t happen again in the hopes of some ever so slightly bigger onions.

Space for the Butterflies - the Winter Garden

The next jobs for another sunny day are to sort out the other bed, plant up all the strawberries and clear the remains of the beans (best grow of the year) and the chard (grew beautifully, turns out I can’t eat it fast enough to keep up) and get that bed ready to be all soft fruit and then comes the really fun part, the bit where I can sit inside with pen and paper and work out exactly what I want to grow, and how many more beds I’m going to need to do it.  The beans were such a hit I want to try them again, and a pea wigwam, and I really do want to successfully grow a courgette one day.  But beyond that I’m open to suggestion – what do you think is fun to grow and eat?

Space for the Butterflies - the Winter Garden

Space for the Butterflies - the Winter Garden

PS – note to self – when you can’t remember which one is garlic and which are onions – this is the order you planted in – Marco garlic nearest the wall, then yellow onions, then red onions – it’s easier to get confused than you’d think!

Space for the Butterflies - the Winter Garden