Wednesday 1 October 2014

Winter planting & seed preparation

While the weather here continues fine even though we're now into the dark half of the year, we're nonetheless looking at winter planting.

We've seen the first enthusiastic winter radish, lettuce and spinach shoots from the test beds we planted last week. We're going to have to thin out the rows later in the coming weeks, as we planted densely, but we're quite chuffed at their performance.

See these little guys? They're going to be radishes when they grow up.
We've picked strains that are proof against or even benefit from frost, such as 'Géant d'hiver' spinach, but you'll also notice that we've surrounded the beds with a straw mulch in anticipation of potentially much colder weather. As the weather has been predominately dry and warm, we've been watering nightly. The beds are positioned to get plenty of sun throughout the day and particularly during the afternoon in autumn.

I've planted an experimental pot of winter lettuce, which I'm keeping on a south-facing step by the front door at the moment. We've got a few other plants in pots which are likely to be coming or staying in for the winter.

My chilli plant is a prolific fruiter which has required regular repotting over the last couple of years, and I think it'll have to be cut back this year. It isn't as happy with its current, shadier windowsill as it was with its old one and it'll probably welcome a break from fruiting. I've saved some seeds and should probably plant the next generation this January.

My rosemary plant, on the other hand, loves the increased moisture and shade it's been getting on the windowsill here. I'm contemplating planting it out next spring.

Outside, we have a couple of clumps of mint,:one in a bed that we don't have much else to do with and one death-defying colony in a pot that appears to have resurrected itself on multiple occasions and will probably continue to do so indefinitely. I'm not planting that tenacious little sod out. If I did, we'd just end up with several acres of mint and nothing else.

Other pots contain English lavender, a rowan seedling, a small cherry tree rescued from some guttering and The Mystery Tree. The first two are coming in later this month.

The birds and humans missed a few berries, so I have a source of redcurrant seeds

I've collected some redcurrant seeds from the bush in the orchard here, which I hope to grow. The only awkward part of this process will be getting them cool enough over a three month period to trigger germination later - they need to be kept just above freezing. I'll experiment with planting some out and mulching over them to protect against frost and probably refrigerate a batch for good measure.

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