By Rose Harvie
Nearing the end of the gardening and growing season, it is time to plan for next year, and also to enjoy some of this year’s crops.
Hopefully, your spuds are carefully tucked up in a frost-free shed or outhouse.
You may also have had a good crop of onions and garlic this year; if so, they should also be kept in a cool place, preferably tied up in strings and hung up until needed in the kitchen.
Time now to prepare your soil for next year.
If your compost bins are full of well-rotted compost, then spread it on the veggie beds and let the worms do your digging for you.
To prevent weeds, if we have a fairly warm winter, cover your beds with sheets of porous black polythene or thin carpet, weighed down with bricks or boards.
Make sure you have a good selection of seed catalogues to browse through during the autumn and make a seed and plant list.
Many seed companies offer a reduction for quantities of seeds and plants purchased, so why not get together with neighbours or other plot and community garden folk, and take advantage
of these offers.
Maybe try different and unusual veggies and share delivery.
It is not too late to plant garlic, which likes a cold winter and a hot summer.
Plant the cloves about 10cm apart, and 5cm deep.
Also, overwinter onions, in the same bed as the garlic.
Spend some time making a chart for your veggie garden and planning a 4-year rotation of crops.
Remember potatoes – peas and beans – brassicas – roots.
Fit in onions/leeks/salads, and unusual things like artichokes and sweet corn.
You can continue adding kitchen and garden waste to your compost bins, but keep a watch out for rats, eager to exploit your compost.
If in any doubt do not add kitchen waste.
A couple of recipes to try: if you’ve grown Tuscan kale (the dark green one) strip the leaves from the centre, chop up, toss in olive oil, and roast in the oven until crisp – ‘kale crisps’ – delicious!
Jerusalem artichokes – if you have not grown them, they are sometimes on sale in farmers’ markets, and make a welcome change/addition to roast potatoes and parsnips.
They also make excellent soup. (I can provide some for you to grow next year.)
If you read this in December, Christmas is just around the corner.
Why not drop a hint to your nearest and dearest about a new wheelbarrow, cold frame, garden tools etc.
And don’t forget the garden birds will need feeding and gather small quantities of holly and leaves to make a Christmas decoration for your front door.
A very Happy Christmas to all gardeners, and all the best for the coming new season.