2014 has been a wonderful year, all plants producing almost double what they did in 2012. Planning your cropping for the year ahead is one of the best bits of January. Bear in mind:
- Rotation of crops, which avoids build up of pests and allows different crops to use different soil nutrients.
- Space needed for each sowing, leaf crops being most space efficient. If you maintain a large space big plants like courgettes and hearting cabbage are possible.
- How to grow 2 crops a year, such as courgettes then Aquadulce broad beans, or early potatoes then winter cabbage.
- Soil health, lots of organic matter to increase plant strength, drainage, water retention and natural pest control.
We always run out of space in our garden, but that is much better than having empty soil. Writing in mid-December the garden is fairly well filled with carrots, celeriac, cauliflowers, turnips, leek, kale, winter and spring cabbage and bulb fennel. All these look well because of the thick layer of organic matter which help insulate the soil and keep the plants cheerful! Ongoing cold is making the leaves look less radiant, but the harvest from them is still good.
What to sow this month:
Noting outside, but if you have a propagator or soil warming cable in a greenhouse—we lay a cable across the garden to our greenhouse until April—then in late January early lettuce, spinach and, if really keen, tomatoes and peppers. Remember you will need to plant these on indoors from such an early sowing, but it is cool to have the first ripe tomatoes in your village, using an early variety such as Sungold.
And what is a New Year’s Resolution? Something that goes in one year and comes out the other.