We are still in the middle of Winter so while I know I should be outdoors tending to the garden to prepare it for the coming season, it is really too cold for me to want to be outside. So I decided several months ago to cover my garden beds with old carpet (which I removed from my home in order to sand the floorboards) as well as cheap tarpaulins which I bought from the hardware store. This will retard growth of undesirable plants (weeds), to allow the already present plant matter to break down, and ensure the underlying ground life have an optimal place to live out the cold weather. This has gone well for my large open garden area, yet my raised garden beds have not had the same attention. I admit that after harvesting the last of the peas I let them sit and go fallow for a couple of months.
I wrote at the start of July that I had tried to harvest the carrots I planted, yet they had not grown as expected… coming up stunted and undersize. The actions I am taking might assist in preventing the same poor results, and in doing this work I came across an unexpected boon.
Well on the weekend the weather was very unseasonal, with lovely warm afternoons which were perfect for getting outdoors into the garden. The weather was great both to get my hands dirty with some work in the garden as well as allowing Orlaith to spend some time outside with me and explore the garden. It is important that she get used to spending time with me outdoors and to know when it is time to play and time to rest.
Out of my five (filled) raised garden beds, I decided that two would be seeded with some Winter green manure plants, and three would be covered in order to be ready for the coming Spring. Why did I decide on this ratio? No reason… I just decided that I didn’t want too many growing the winter manure as it could add extra work later.
Out of the two beds that were seeded, one was covered with my old glass shower screen, which will increase the temperature to provide a more temperate growing environment. I have used this technique before and it always gives the plants a kick start, allowing them to sprout earlier then they should in normal circumstances. The process of installing the glass cover didn’t go as seamlessly as I would like as Orlaith was determined to chew on the wooden beams holding up the cover. I had to be careful not to injure her with the heavy glass screen.
The other three beds were left unseeded. I removed the weeds which had grown since I last tended the garden, then aerated the soil with the garden fork before covering them back up with the left over carpet and tarpaulins. When I was doing this aeration I discovered a previously forgotten stash of purple potatoes which I had planted. I gathered over a kilogram of them, some of which were starting to go to seed. I will add the majority to our dinner one night this week, with some to be used to seed next seasons potato harvest. Of special interest was the discovery of a couple of red potato. I did want to plant some last year yet I did not find any to buy. Somehow one must have been in the bag of seed potatoes I bought so some of the produce are of the red variety. I will be sure to plant these in the warmer weather for some variety.