I think it’s safe to say that no matter what happens to the plastic covers for my little grow houses, the frames won’t be going anywhere soon. You see, in true Mud fashion, these have been secured to the railway sleepers that edge my beds with industrial strength U-shaped nails and cable ties.
Cable ties are used for everything in the world of Mud, especially where the Land Rovers are concerned and so he knew exactly what was needed when discussing how to secure the grow houses. Mind you, the issue of the covers is ongoing because there are only a couple of velcro straps attached to each upright corner of the plastic cover, with which to secure it to the frame. There are no straps either along the horizontals or the roof or, for that matter, the bottom edge and so I have also ‘lined’ the outside wall with the pots of strawberry plants which over winter outside anyway. The hope is that these will help prevent the winter winds and frosts from getting up and under the bottom edge of the cover. Only time will tell but the covers have survived some pretty strong winds recently, including a night of 70-80 mph jobbies.
Anyway, I digress. The covers have been in place for 3 weeks now, keeping the ground relatively warm, ready for the planting out of the cabbages and cauliflowers that I have grown in seed trays and the onion and garlic sets. The day the covers went on, I did weed the area under cover and applied a generous scattering of chicken manure pellets to help replenish the soil, ready for the winter inhabitants.
Then the cold weather struck and my old friend anemia decided to visit and suddenly trying to find the energy to do anything at all became an impossible task.
Acknowledging the fact that the garden could afford to wait a couple of weeks, I opted for the less strenuous choice of knitting, took my iron tablets and forgot about the garden for a while – although I did check on the plants in the bubble wrapped greenhouse.
Today the weather was quite warm, relatively speaking, and feeling a little more energized than I have for a while, I donned my tatty old jeans and a warm sweater and went outside to tend my poor neglected garden.
What a sorry sight it was to:
- The tomato plants were grey with age and needed ripping out;
- The pods on the bean plants needed picking ready for drying out, as the seeds inside are to be saved for next seasons planting;
- The rotting rhubarb leaves were ready for composting; and
- The manure needed spreading.
Added to this my cauliflower and cabbage seedlings desperately needed planting out, along with the onion sets and garlic. I also had two broccoli seedlings to plant out – these had been given to me for my winter garden.
First job of the day was to plant the 25 mixed onion sets and 3 garlics. I unzipped a grow house cover and quickly raked the soil to break up and mix in the now disintegrated manure pellets. The raking also served to remove the small weeds that had tried to take advantage of the warmer climate in the grow house. The onions and garlic were planted in quick time and there was just enough room left for the two broccoli seedlings.
A quick water, then I zipped the cover up and moved onto the second grow house.
The cabbage and cauliflower seedlings had spent the last three weeks in the shelter of the grow house and so were suitably acclimatised to the conditions. As with the first, the soil needed a light raking before I could plant the seedlings out. In the end six cabbage and nine cauliflowers went in. This is probably too many for the space but I’m not at all convinced that all of them will survive, so we’ll see how they do.
A quick shower from the watering can and a light scattering of slug pellets and my winter garden was planted up and I could finally turn my attention to the tidying up of the beds. I would like to point out at this juncture, that I don’t normally like to apply slug pellets. However, with any affected slugs confined to the covered area, making them in accessible to hungry wildlife and the likelihood that the local hedgehogs would, for the most part, be curled up in a nice warm nest waiting for spring to arrive, I decided that this would be the easiest method for protecting my young seedlings.
With the grow houses sorted out I decided that now would be a good time for a coffee, before tackling the next spate of jobs and, in particular, the removal of the beans, one of my least favourite of the winter chores!