A Sleepy Cold Winter in the Patchworkveg Garden.

Winter in an Irish Patchworkveg garden.

Is there a good argument for throwing anything that has been written before this year about Growing in an Irish Garden into your compost heap??? Maybe we wont be that rash.

This year in my garden I do as I always do and experiment with different styles and ways of sowing and planting. And when it comes to gardening experts I do as I would do when it comes to recipes ,I gather loads of pieces of information about the food or vegetable and I try and work out what is best for me. I give it a go and if it doesn't work, I take on board what I think went wrong and then I give it a go again.

The whole fun for me and allot of novice gardeners  growing their own food is waiting for that first little green speck to peep through the soil and when it does it is a great feeling (sad as that may sound). It is normally the start of spring and what that brings with it is hope and a glimmer of sunshine that allot of us need now.

Growing is good for you, it opens your mind in a very simple way. How? Grab a watering can or a rake and go out a spend five or ten minutes doing a bit of watering or cleaning up and you will find any wee worry you had has been composted to the back of your mind.You wont know it but you will be sub-consciously be looking at different plants,insects etc. in your little haven.

Now to go back to my first sentence about losing the plot and throwing away your mentors writings, what I mean is sometimes you have to think outside the gardening book or vary a little from what the seed packet says. The weather for growing in Ireland this year has been strange to say the least. We started of with a great April/May and we were in full swing sowing and planting. Then we got a fierce cold wind that killed or stunted allot of plants. And then after a wet time we get a small Indian summer that helped bring on and give some late cropping of veg .My courgettes and mange-tout are finishing now.

Anyway enough waffle from me as there are plenty of "experts" out there to tell you what to do.
What  can you do in the garden now to help you be ready for next year????

  • Firstly look after your winter crops. The one major thing I did last winter was secure netting over my kale,cabbage and Brussels sprouts.The birds are hungry and pigeons especially could wipe out a few plants of a morning. A cloche or some heavy polythene and old blankets etc. are good for keeping the cold away from your tender veg. Kale is one of the toughest out there and my own survived about minus 14 degrees Celsius last winter. It may sound silly but plants may need some water if its dry and sunny for a long period ( unlikely you say). Harvest any vegetables that would be killed in severe frost although your parsnips will benefit from a wee frost which will improve the flavour.
  • Secondly look after your raised vegetable beds. November rain or the rain we got last week will wash all the goodness and nutrients out of your soil. What I do is cover with some old carpet or black polythene.This will protect against the weather but it will also kill any old weeds or grass if its a new vegetable plot.
  • Thirdly get your compost bin in order and turn over if it needs it. Maybe dig come into your soil before you cover the beds so it will be ready for next year. Get a separate leaf mould bin going beside your compost bin. Make a cylinder shape by curving some chicken wire or similar and packing old leaves down into it.
And lastly go absolutely crazy and buy yourself a gardening magazine. One of my favourites "Grow your own" magazine. Its always topical and gives seasonal tips.Soon and come early spring they will include a seed catalogue. Get reading this a decide what type vegetables you want to grow and also what particular type of seed you would like that may suit your area.
And being the cheeky devil I am, if you or your friends are thinking about growing please have a think about calling me to help you out. What I do and my prices are available here
Thanks for reading and the message we can all take from Winter in our gardens is--Spring is coming and there is loads of light at the end of the tunnel.

Happy Growing
Sean Gallagher www.patchworkveg.com