Archive for the ‘Winter Garden Care’ Category

Woodchip is a great soil amendment and adds nutrients into the soil slowly, I have observably proven this to myself last year on my Allotment where I stashed a few wheelbarrows of woodchip on a section of my plot because otherwise the communal woodchip would likely have been finished by the time I needed some.
Once I dug my pond out, I covered the mound of woodchip with the soil from within the pond, about 6 months later I finally started a new project in the place of the mound of soil where I discovered the very well composted woodchip and noticed when digging that the topsoil layer was darker within a few inches under the topsoil line, when I compared this to a section just a meter away, the soil was lightly coloured and only darker very close to the surface line…

Below is a great video proving and showing from day one to 8 years on, the soil is even dug down seriously deep to prove how far the amendment reached until the soil quality becomes poor again.

 

Important Note: If you obtain free woodchip from your local Tree Surgeons, always ask what tree/s were chipped! Basically, Broad Leaf are usually Alkaline or Neutral PH (Oak is Acidic though) and Coniferous are Acidic PH, So use Conifer Woodchip for pathways as less weeds will germinate amongst the mature rotting chips as well as a mulch for Acid loving plants like strawberries and Blueberries. Use the Broad Leaf for your beds and as a soil amender!

Video courtesy of youtube channel OneYardRevolution

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So the remining Pumpkins and collectable fruits are finished picking and harvested, I will be puree’ing much of the pumpkin and placing it into the freezer, this should be good for smoothies as well as pumpkin soups in the upcoming months! Below are some pictures of the fruits as well as some tips on producing home made Liquid Plant Fertiliser further down …

My growing season is not yet over though! there are Carrots, Lettuces, Spinaches, Mustards, and Kales that were sown before the start of Autumn, these will grow on throughout Winter and there are more to sow soon including Garlic!

We are nearing the end of the best time to sow Garlic (November), Garlic is quite easy to grow and I suggest starting now as I find Spring sown don’t get as big. I shall post an article soon regarding Garlic and Succession planting with Garlic.

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9.7 Litres of Home Made Sustainable Liquid Plant Fertiliser

If you have a normal sized general purpose bucket, you can easily make just under 10 Litres of Liquid Plant Fertiliser per batch on an established mature (2+ year old) Comfrey Plant (Bocking 14 Variety).

Following these instructions but just increasing the ratio of Comfrey and water to fill the bucket to the rim, then all you need besides the bucket and a water supply etc. is a well established Bocking 14 Comfrey Plant! Do not underestimate these plants, they grow very well once established and will need annual controlling (Luckily they are bred to not set seed) yet are an absolutely invaluable addition to any Organic / Sustainable food garden or plot. They can be chopped 3 – 5 times a year without worry and come back to life in early Spring. Their deep rooting system is their secret, it harvests minerals not available to the shallower rooting plants nearby and deposits these minerals in their leaves, hence why you either chop ‘n drop or chop and make Liquid Fertiliser / Compost Tea.

I will be selling Comfrey Root Divisions from January onwards – my Comfrey is definitely the Bocking 14 variety and I have never had any Comfrey weeds growing as a result, if interested just comment on this post (Anyone can comment, not only WordPress users).

Make Comferey Compost Fertiliser once more when you do your final chop, this stash of fertiliser will last you the duration of Winter and will be the reserves for spring until the first new year batch will be ready …

Last Summer I added Oca and Ulloco Tuberous crops to my vegetable grow list in my garden, having harvested them recently, I can only advise that personally they are not worth the effort due to the small yield. This opinion is mainly helpful to those in countries with a similar climate to the UK, these plants are really from the Andean areas in South America where they are guaranteed to have more abundant sunshine.

Perennial tuber Kit: Incredible Vegetables

Various Perennial Tubers: Oca, Ulloco, Sunchoke (Jerusalem Artichoke) & Crosney (Chinese Artichoke).

Whilst I did get a few tubers per plant that were of a decent size, the rest were usually really tiny and even too small to be able to clean properly for culinary use.
I will be keeping a small amount of stock growing in one pot just for the sake of having some aside and re-seeding every year, this will prevent the need to buy more in the event of trying again.

On another note, the same goes for Chinese Artichokes AKA Crosneys, although the yield was quite big, the actual tubers were tiny and most broke whilst harvesting! Oca have a far more worthwhile yield compared with these so for any new gardeners interested to try unusual tubers out, the Oca are probably best after Jerusalem Artichokes (Sunchokes).

Simply put, if I had a larger piece of land (I have a very small typical UK garden), and some more time on my hands, I would probably have a dedicated area to grow these crops and experiment with soil types (my soil is quite heavy). So, I am not entirely giving up, just putting these tubers on a backburner list whilst I find other crops to dedicate my limited space to.

To order any Unusual tuber vegetables in the UK / Europe, take a look at Incredible Vegetables, they supply full info on planting etc.

As with other berry plants, blueberries require acidic soil and the most common way to ensure this is to obtain Ericaceous compost … but this is permaculture! We certainly do not need to go out and buy another product since we can create the same result (or even better) merely by recycling at home!

After following this method, my One plant increased yield incredibly and I am 100% certain that the bush had at least between 300 – 450 berries, No Jokes!

blueberry mulch

Mulching a blueberry bush to increase yield

Following the above image, you simply keep all of your used tea until you think you have enough to mulch the plant / pot to about 25mm (2,5cm / 1 inch) deep (if you use tea bags, keep them aside to dry, then split open and discard the bags), if you have a plant in the same pot as it came from the nursery, there is a good chance that they gave the plant some kind of wood chip, scrape this off and put aside, then spread your tea leaves out (keep it away from the plant base though), once spread nicely, you cover again with the nursery chip and leave to do it’s thing!

This should be done around now but even autumn is okay, latest should be done in spring. Other methods to increase yield is to stuff Oak leaves with a small amount of other compost-able material such as grass clippings, couple hand fulls of soil, vegetable scraps etc. into a black bin bag, place this in the sun with some small air holes and after a few months this will be well composted and will be an acidic compost due to the oak leaves, place your plant into a newer bigger pot and use  a combination of this oak leaf compost as the pot soil and the tea leaves as a mulch … you will never regret doing this, the results are spectacular! Ensure you have lot’s of space in your freezer for the excess berries.

Begonias Doing Very Well, Winter December 2014

Begonias Doing Very Well, Winter December 2014

Wow, what changes we are seeing in the climate regionally and worldwide!

Is it normal to find that your begonias and other related plant varieties are doing just as fine in the beginning of December as they were in the middle of August ?

Right now in my current city (London), you can see tree varieties, shrubs etc. having a second flush of flowers (especially Viburnums and Camellias), Hydrangeas are showing buds forming … lets hope they don’t have problems once the weather really changes given they are currently diverting their nutrients and energy into bud, flower / foliage production … and not into their natural state which should right now be dormancy!

Don’t hesitate to share your own anomalies from your garden/s as it is good to document these things for future reference.

I am now seriously contemplating sowing a second batch of Nitrogen Fixing Green Manure since my first batch half failed (Due to negligence on my part) – It will most likely be Red Clover ( Trifolium pratense ) due to their hardiness and the fact that I have a good supply of seeds … keep an eye on the blog, I will update soon what the result is.

Fern Trees (Dicksonia Antartica) are not only highly expensive in countries where they are not naturally occurring, but especially in regions where they will not normally survive in all the seasons, there are ways to prevent losing them to frosts etc.

Beautiful Tree Ferns ( Dicksonia Antartica )

These tropical plants are now becoming well sought after in Europe, but even though you spent a lot of money obtaining one or a few, the place you bought the plant/s from most likely did not explain winter care to you and perhaps, your gardener may not even know this!

simply either get a bag, and:

  1. go around your neighbourhood and cut a few fern leaves from any fern variety and bring them home, or just cut one or two from your fern tree (per tree).
  2. make a rough ball and place it in the crown of the tree where the top branches emerge from the trunk, it should be about 5 – 10 cm thick (2 – 5”) …thick enough to work as thick insulation against frosts and snow
  3. That’s it !!
  4. Eventually all the other leaves will turn brown then black, these can be cut off to make way for next year’s growth, you could also add some of these to the plant crown
Top View of Crown with Winter Insulation

Top View of Crown with Winter Insulation

Side View of Applied Winter Insulation

Thick fresh Leaf Mulch on a bed

Thick fresh Leaf Mulch on a bed

Hi Folks, this will be a quick one on how to apply leaf mulch but most importantly, how to step up or speed up the procedure to obtain the mulch quicker…

Step 1: Obtain a Lawnmower or Strimmer if you do not have one,
Step 2: Rake up all of your leaves into a pile and mow over a few times, if you feel like it, you may empty the bag straight back onto the lawn and go over it again once more (more…)