The end of the visitor season is fast approaching and although most will think that the gardeners have it easy during this period that couldn't be further from the truth. This is the time we very much think forwards. Although plant related work is somewhat reduced it is upon closing that we can spring into action and crack on with building projects to push the walled garden toward its final identity.
The extension of the vegetable patch which was started a while back will finally be completed along with more work in our orchard area. During the closed season we still endeavour to provide for the hall both vegetables and florists material on a regular basis which includes drying flower heads and bletting Medlars for use later.
Another major undertaking during closed season is mulching which is the application of a 10cm layer of composted material to our ornamental beds. This serves to reduce soil erosion, retard weed seed germination, warm the soil, aid moisture retention and add structure to the soil as the worms take it down into the soil profile. The mulching manoeuvre that will pay huge dividends in the summer, when we will be able to spend less time weeding. The vegetable beds will receive a similar treatment with animal manure which will be dug into the soil in late winter.
Propagation is a great way of increasing your plant stock for next season, the children on the weekly visit from our local high school helped us with just that. We hope to raise a few thousand Box (Buxus sempervirens) plants to edge some of our productive areas. We took cuttings from disease free material at around 15-20cm in length with the lower 80% of leaves removed, next they were dipped in hormone rooting power before being planted and firmed in.
We have made some progress tiding our herbaceous plantings also. Cutting back the dead herbaceous stems is far from essential but necessary if aesthetics are important and we like to think we hit a good compromise. We remove the worst looking and slimy dead stems to stock our compost pile but keep the still firm and upright seed heads that will help nourish bird life throughout the winter months.
On the Veg patch we have planted lots of varieties of Garlic, we have Japanese and Welsh Onions, Winter Brassica and Salad leaves along with overwintering Cabbages and Broad beans for an early crop next year.
This time of year is perfect to reflect on your success and failures in your garden and armed with this knowledge while its fresh in your memory seize the opportunity to order bulbs and seeds for next season.
Nearly all of the spring bulbs can still be planted while the soil is warm and if you want flowering Hyacinths for Xmas time is running out to get them potted up and stored in a dark place outdoors.
Its a perennial question. "What do you do in winter?" so please believe me when we say that
we are just as busy as ever.