Then this morning, January 2nd, the day dawned sunny and dry, if still a little chilly and then the gentle reminder Lizzie sends out to those of us who contribute towards The Garden Share Collective, arrived in my inbox and so, leaving the Mudlets in the care of Mud, I headed over to the school and set to work.
I decided to give myself 1 hour to do as much as I could, starting with the container garden and raised bed area, both of which were looking dreadful, with netting half buried in some places by the number of leaves that had been blown into it during the recent storms.
I tackled the container garden first, emptying the spent compost onto the triangular deep raised bed before taking the netting and now empty crates to the poly tunnel for storage. One of the crates is home to strawberry plants and rather than repot the plants there and then, I have popped this particular crate onto the metal staging in the tunnel for over wintering.
With the container garden now a memory, I started on the raised beds. In the furthest of the shallow beds, the bamboo pyramid against which tomatoes had been growing was still upright but scattered around its’ base were the last of the tomatoes which hadn’t made it into the school before the Christmas break but which had been tumbled to the ground by the strong winds of the aforementioned storms. I gathered these up and popped them into the compost bin before returning the bamboos to the storage bin in the poly tunnel and starting on the next bed.
One by one I worked my way around the beds, stowing the netting temporarily in the tunnel, gathering up the watering pots, labels and plant rings and putting these tidily into the potting tray for ease of access. All the labels will need washing as will the pots but this can be done over the next few weeks.
Weeds and the odd vegetable straggler went into the compost bins but in the large, deep square bed, a couple of dozen leeks, three curly kale plants and four Romanesco heads appear to be flourishing. The Romanescos are still quite small, the largest being the size of an orange and having never grown these before I’m not entirely sure they will be useable but at the moment they look pretty good and, weather permitting, may just achieve a decent size. I would appreciate advice from those of you who have grown these before as to whether or not they will be okay? Or, despite the look of them, will the frosts have done for them in terms of taste?
With the beds all cleared, my final task for today was to sprinkle liberal quantities of Chicken Manure Pellets and Fish Blood and Bone as a top dressing. As with my own garden, other than the minimum disturbance needed to weed and clear the soil in the beds, I have adopted a ‘no dig’ approach this year, allowing the existing eco-systems to do the hard work of pulling the nutrients down into the soil. I’m hoping that the minimum disturbance and potential damage to Mr Worm and his cohorts of this method, will pay dividends come harvest time.
Putting the tools back into the poly tunnel, I took stock of the work needed to tidy that area up and will need to spend another hour or two clearing it out and sorting out things like the netting which, as I said earlier, has been temporarily stored on the growbag staging, along with the wooden crates. There are also strawberry plants to be trimmed, not to mention a huge number of leaves that have found their way in and a general sweep and clean needs to be carried out before the first of the seed sowing can be done.
Incidentally the seeds have now been ordered, purchased and/or received and details of the crops we intend to grow in 2014 can be found here.
I’ll have to be careful though, as by the door, still growing beside the pavers which make the pathway down the centre of the tunnel, is the twin headed cabbage (I think) which, despite the careless feet of my young gardeners, the weather, caterpillars and slugs continues to thrive and may yet provide something for the school kitchen.
So Happy New Year from the school garden and if you’d like to see what’s happening in the other gardens in the Collective head over to Lizzies blog where you will find links to them all.