With the daylight hours on a rapid decline, it is time to think about clearing out your summer garden, making and turning composts and planning for your winter planting.
‘Winter planting??’ I hear some of you cry! Yes that’s right; a winter garden can be just as rewarding as a summer garden. Juicy heads of broccoli, that perfect cauliflower, leeks for a hearty winter soup, delicious sweet carrots and roasted beetroot. Yum yum!
With this in mind, I would like to tell you that growing a winter garden can be a lot easier than a summer garden, as there is no stress about water and definitely not so much stress about pests, as most of them like to overwinter until the following spring.
Here’s my top tips on how to clear out your summer garden:
The following suggestions are purely based on my gardening experience over 30 years, growing organic fruit and veg.
When clearing your garden, make sure you dispose of infected plants and do not put them in the compost. This will only spread disease – unless you are making super-hot compost. Fungal diseases, like blight on tomatoes and potatoes, will not die in your compost pile, so I urge you to be careful. I completely avoid putting any tomato or potato plants in my compost just in case they take disease with them.
As an aside, I must say I have had a great year for tomatoes, with literally no blight or pests and disease! I have a feeling it could be from a good feeding programme; planting them on Bokashi and being in a windy spot. They have thrived and continue to do so even now, albeit at a slower rate. Incidentally, I had a disastrous year with zucchini and pumpkins; with them having hardly any female flowers. But, on the bright side, the flowers have been delicious to eat! #gratitudeofagardener
When clearing your garden, make a note what has been growing there and if it did well or not, and then plant the next rotation plant in its place. If you have had leafy producing and above-ground plants, it would be great to plant roots next, like beetroot, carrots, garlic etc. Garlic particularly likes to go where tomatoes have been. Remember if planting carrots, they will not need any more compost or fertiliser, as this will cause them to grow in mysterious shapes. Also, if you have planted beans this year, they are a legume and will have fixed nitrogen to the soil for you.
With the moon going down, now is the time to think about planting leeks, as these have a long growing season. If you plant them on Bokashi; mulch well and water in, they should be fine. But remember that these are hungry plants so, if you have no Bokashi or vermicast, add a good rotted compost before planting. With the moon in this phase, it is great for cleaning up the garden and making compost, which could be ready in time for June planting.
Take the time to plan your winter garden and decide which beds you will rest over winter. Also decide which beds you will plant with a green manure crop. If you choose to be a summer gardener only, take notes on where you have planted this summer to enable a good rotation next summer, and remember your garden will benefit from a green manure crop over the winter period.