Seems a little early to kick off my annual Gardening Bore witterings, but no. March is nearly here, and with it the ritual of starting new seeds and clearing last year’s mess from the veg beds. (If you’re one of those people who do a big garden tidy-up before winter, I salute you. We usually sail into winter with a VERY messy garden, weeds everywhere, dead leaves on the ground, the withered ghosts of old veg plants still standing in the beds. I tell myself it’s good for the wildlife to leave it like that, but really, I’m just over it all by November. Much as I love my garden, I absolutely need these winter months off to refill my enthusiasm cup.)
Suitably rested, I’m (just about) ready for a new gardening season. We had a great gardening year in 2022. The veg garden never looked lovelier or gave us so much to eat. So my overarching goal for this year is, well, more of the same, please. To keep up the good work. To keep feeding us as well as possible. And to continue to get joy from the process.
But I do have a few specific goals in mind for 2023. I’m not saying these will definitely get done. But here’s hoping…
Get better at succession sowing
I don’t really do succession sowing in the sense of sowing the same crop (like lettuce) every six weeks or so to get a continuous crop. But there are some crops that I like to get two harvests from in the same year. For example, I’ll sow nasturtiums in spring for a spring/early summer crop of leaves. Then I’ll sow more nasturtiums in late July/early August for an autumn crop. (They tend to die off in our hot summers, so the second sowing is needed.)
I try to a similar thing with green beans, coriander, and beetroot, sowing a second batch while the first batch is still producing. I nailed it with the green beans and coriander last year, getting two respectable harvests of each. But I never seem to time the beetroot quite right – usually just ending up with a nice crop of beet leaves in September and October, with no time for them to develop the actual beets. It’s not the end of the world – we eat the beet leaves. But I’d love to get two good beet harvests this year, if I can, and explore other crops that I can get two separate harvests from.
Plant more trees
We’ve not planted enough trees in this garden. We’ve added an apple tree, a couple of peach trees (only one of which has survived, and that poor tree has been moved so many times it’s sulking), two sumacs, and an Indian bean tree. There’s room for more. I wish we’d planted more trees as soon as we moved in – they’d be so big by now!
There’s a lesson for people moving into their ‘forever’ home – think about these things as soon as you move in. Plant the big, structural stuff first. The stuff that’ll take years to get established. You can get to the decorative and veg beds later on. (If you’re anything like me, you won’t listen. You’ll want the immediate gratification of veg beds and pretty flowers…)
Back to our trees. There are some lovely established trees up on our hill, but we need to start thinking ahead and planting new ones that will (one day) take over from our oldest trees. Our two walnut trees, which are probably 80-100 years old and date back to when the house was built, are suffering from some sort of disease (no idea what, but many of the old walnut trees in our village have died in the last year). If our walnuts die, it’ll be a huge loss for the garden. Presumably it’s not a great idea to plant more walnuts in case they’re affected by the same thing. So what to do instead … hazelnuts maybe? A chestnut or two? It’s a big decision.
We also need more apple trees because, you know, cider.
Return to the flower garden
Our flower garden has been sorely neglected for the last couple of years as big structural projects have gone on around it (the greenhouse, the retaining wall for our hill). But now that those jobs are done (and by ‘done’ I mean they’re 95% finished and will probably stay that way FOR YEARS), we can finally pay more attention to our sad flower beds. I’d like to add more decorative grasses, for sure. Bring in more of the colour yellow. Plant more climbers. Fill in some gaps here and there. And, depending on the location of our future pond (see next), one of the beds might have to move – which means relocating a lot of plants this spring.
Why is it that one job breeds more jobs? Why?
A pond … finally?
A wildlife pond has been on our to-do list for a while now, but never seems to make it to the top of the list of priorities. Is 2023 the year we finally take the plunge (pond pun alert)? Maybe. I certainly hope so.
I’m getting ahead of myself, as usual. The first packet of seeds hasn’t even been sown for this year. There’s still snow on the ground. But a girl can dream of her future garden triumphs, right?
What garden triumphs are you dreaming of this year?
For walnuts, get a variety that’s not a terminal bud bearing so you can afford to trim it more and you will also get more yield of the same space. Chestnuts will need cross pollination. From Bulgaria you cannot buy reliable chestnuts… almost nobody would sell what they’re telling you, so might have to hook you up with my buddy, the one I’m lending a hand design a hectare size chestnut garden.
Hazels are best grown from seed for a reliable, resilient plant with deep tap roots. The stuff you get from the nursery usually sucks. IF you’re not looking for a bush hazel (shame on you!) then look for a turkish hazel rootstock with grafted variety on top. But I’d look more towards a hazel hedge and using the canes for wattles, etc.
If for some unknown reason you want to listen to me drone about hazels for an eternity, find my yt channel, small scale permaculture.
Bobby, I had no idea you were such a tree nerd! How interesting (and useful, thank you). I definitely want to hear you drone on about hazels, and will check out the YT channel. I may hit you up for more info this spring…
We are coming into autumn here in Australia.
Our winters are mild so I can grow food yeqr round. I’ve got my seeds in the mini hot house so my winter plantings will be ready to go into the ground when the weather changes.
Your garden looks lovely. I love the wild untamed look
How great to keep growing food through the winter. I love having a few months off from gardening during the winter, but miss cooking with freshly harvested produce. Lucky you! Thank you for reading x