Putting the Garden to Bed
November is here, and with it, a cold snap that freezes plants and fingertips alike. It’s time to put the garden to bed for the winter. The trees have kept their leaves longer than usual this year, meaning that there’s a little more colour to the garden than there sometimes is when we get to this point in time, but the beds are beginning to look noticeably empty and devoid of their summer colours.
Our team of two (Emily and Debbie) will be halved, as Emily is taking a couple of months off until the new year. Winter is the time when we carry out more of our “infrastructure” jobs, such as refreshing the wood chips in the circular garden, and moving beds around to make way for new projects. All the tender plants are brought into the greenhouse, which is now fit to burst. It’s jam-packed with olive trees, pelargoniums, satsuma plants, orchids and chillis, in one glorious mishmash.
Debbie and Emily are harvesting the last crops of vegetables and herbs. Debbie has been in charge of collecting the parsnips, salads, leeks, kale, chard, potatoes, and some remaining onions and squashes that evaded the harvest the first time around.
Emily has been harvesting the herbs, some of which will supply a local business called Mr Teas Teas. These are the last cuts of apple mint and lemon balm, all bundled up into our big paper Shipton Mill flour sacks for delivery. Unfortunately the rest of our mint got too badly frosted to be dried and preserved this time around, but so it sometimes goes.
All the plants are being cut back, and a layer of mulch is being spread over the beds, both for soil fertility and for protection. The mulch helps to prevent soil erosion from wind and rain. Whilst the mulch itself isn’t so good to plant into, it keeps the richer soil from washing away. It also keeps the soil below warmer as it rots down, creating more fertile soil for next year. And with that, the garden has reached the end of it’s summer and autumn cycles, and will go into a more dormant phase. Let’s see what 2018 brings…