It must be winter.    The ponds are filled.   Waterblumijies cover the surfaces with their flowers and floating leaves.  Spiders work their wonders in the dawn dew weaving webs which last till breakfast time.  A veil of frost lingers on from overnight on paths and mulch.  The Garden’s fire altar attracts the close interest of chilled gardeners.  And as the sun rises to dispel the damp air, the garden begins to breathe the fresh warmed air of a new day and possibilities of growth.

Almost all beds are under cultivation.  Some leek remnants remain to be harvested having slowly and patiently nurtured their maturity and now await a last round of winter soup-making.  The turnip patch is being cleared to join the soup ingredients.   Spinach continues in beds now mulched to support their growth through this season.  Winter broad beans are growing impressively on a number of beds and some can now be harvested.  There are new plantings of leeks, fresh sowings of carrots and beetroot, and continuous sowings and planting of mixed lettuce in the Nursery. 

The most obvious growth at this time is the green manure which has been sown successively on beds that have been cleared and dug during community work by our student migrant work-force.  The seed mixture is lupin and black oats, which served us well last year.  A third of all beds have now been seeded, which is more-or-less the recommended proportion for the cultivation of green manure.  So now we wait for the lupin flowers to form and grace the garden with colour and the soil with nitrogen, supported by the rich biomass provided by the oats. 

And so we have a window of some weeks to focus on the other beds, planting out and sowing, and completing the task of mulching which we have now undertaken in a serious and comprehensive way.  We started, with the onset of the rains, to cut grass in the wild wetland and immediately lay it as mulch on the growing beds.  The images in the mid-winter Garden Notes show its extent at that time.  We are now attempting to apply mulch with cut grass from the Woodland on all beds.  This will protect growing seedlings from encroachment by weeds, reduce the need for skoffling, maintain moisture for plant growth, and will result in its breakdown to future compost in situ.  It will also, significantly, reduce labour effort and increase gardening satisfaction! 

We have also created a “deep-litter”bed of raw compost, presently covered for the past month with tarpaulin to accelerate decomposition, into which we will directly plant cabbage and other heavy-feeder vegetable seedlings.  Our more mature compost has been applied generously to the olive trees for the first time, to remind them that they are part of the garden and not always neglected, and that olives are expected.   The wormery has been revisited to ensure the worms enjoy best conditions, which includes a regular diet of cow manure from Eric’s farm and fresh greens from kitchen-waste.  We aim to provide all seedling compost from our worm-workings within the Wormery.


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