An Incredible WinterLast update: 23.01.11 First posted: 23.01.11 by Alan in Growing
This article appeared in the Todmorden News on Thursday 13 January 2011, original draft by John Stewart
We haven’t seen penguins or polar bears in Tod, well not yet, but it was cold enough wasn’t it? This means that the normal outside garden jobs for late December and January have probably been delayed.
When there’s time, we should be clearing up fallen leaves; cutting down autumn fruiting raspberries and pruning apples, pears and plums
(other stone fruit should wait for late spring); planting bare rooted fruit bushes and trees; digging beds, if necessary. Don’t be tempted to prune or plant anything in frost.
But what can we do while the bad weather bites? Indulge in some catalogue therapy, of course, safe and warm indoors. Most suppliers have online versions – time to work out what vegetables we’re going to grow. Order early: maybe global warming will kick back in before springtime.
A heated greenhouse would be ideal,
but just a cold frame or miniature polytunnel will do wonders: check our website for how to make your own cheap polytunnel from recycled materials and scraps.
Whether selecting seeds or ordering small plants for delivery in spring, think about cropping throughout the year. If you plan carefully you could be eating lettuce, brassicas and root crops for most of the year. The first thing is to select seeds or plants which are said to be ‘early’, ‘main crop’ or ‘late’ – or ‘over-wintering’.
Varieties of potato, carrot, lettuce, cabbage, onion and leek cover most of these bases. For example, the carrot varieties Early French Frame and Autumn King 2 tell you what to expect. Senshyu Semi-Globe Yellow is an over-wintering onion. In peas it’s Feltham First then Kelvedon Wonder, followed by Hurst Greenshaft. To help, you can stagger the planting of your favourite vegetables to have ‘successional’ cropping, especially useful with lettuce and other salads. But with limited space, the key to all this is planning now to use what land you have.
And yes, prepare the ground outside if the weather gets really mild: but don’t feel guilty if the planning takes a bit longer than expected. Mm, I’ll have a little something medicinal with that too, thanks. Have an Incredible Winter.
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