• Petra Fulham

Winter in the Garden

With my head in books and academic papers these last few months, my garden has received little attention other than a decent mulch, planting garlic, tulips (of course) and a quick hour at breakfast to check on salad seedlings and some early hardy annuals sown in October. This year I was determined to continue growing food and ensure early flowers for spring and I must say, the greenhouse still feels vibrant, energised and full of vegetative promise.

I sowed two types of winter salad, Cavelo Nero, Messidor garlic, lots of pak choy (which the snails were devouring) and extra kale incase of failed crops. I absolutely love trying new things in the garden with the bid to support its little eco system for the macro system, and so i've used green manure on some of the empty spaces to avoid leaving too much bare soil over the winter. Green manure (third picture on the right) is super simple and quick to grow. About 4-5 weeks before Spring planting- its dug into the soil to provide a boost of nutrients for the next crop whilst having protected the soil over winter- that's a win win.

I've also been saving more seeds this year; wall flowers, marigolds, cosmos, zinnias and lots of calendula. The wallflowers are now strong little seedlings which should be ready to plant out in March. I've lots of ideas to sow more flower seeds this year with a new space to combine with some medicinal herbs. As usual I half plan things and the trust the process will unfold as it needs to. That's the thing with gardening, you can have all the plans and ideas to create a growing space, and it is nature that will hold much of its potential. I could connect many a symbolism of life to gardening

What I've also realised is that just because the majority of flowers and vegetables are grown over the spring and summer season i can still enjoy the garden bounty with drying different herbs and flowers for teas during the colder months. I made a lovely blend of lemon balm, chamomile, calendula, rose petal with some nettle I dried a while back. Having a stock of herbs to blend is a tonic in in itself and my hope is to expand my collection of herb and flower-filled jars.

With poly culture in mind, I will be sharing lots more about two new aspects to the garden- well one is more a reconfiguration as a result of one of the apple trees now drying for fire wood, and the other a whole new bed, that will be planted up with medicinal herbs and flowers.

This is the new area in the front where the trellis-arbour now lives as a NW-facing structure to support a rose cutting that my Mum has taken and is thriving, ready to be planted in March. There's lots of spring bulbs doing their magic underneath and I've acquired various dahlia tubers for late summer colour and cut flowers. So lovely to have a project that is working progress to look forward to during the darker colder months. In this way winter gardening feels more of an extension than a pause and makes me realise quite how much I rely on my time in the garden for my well being- in any season.