Edible garden in January

At the moment, our garden is covered in snow and the ground is frozen. That means that not a whole lot can be done outside.

At the beginning of the month when it wasn’t freezing and we were in the Czech Republic, I made the most of the one day we went to my parents cottage and pruned what I could. The garden there is pretty large, so what I can’t plant at home, I plant there. Over the years, it’s become an interesting collection of unusual edibles, including edible honeysuckle, Arnold hawthorn and several hybrid berries.

But we´ve planted apples too, namely several scab-resistant Czech varieties (Lipno, Rubinola, Sirius). These are still young, so pruning is needed to establish a good shape.
Of course, pruning is not really necessary from the plant’s point of view, but an open structure allows the sun to penetrate deeper into the crown which results in better quality of fruits.

But on the whole, most og the gardening in January is done inside. On our dining table, I look through the seeds that are left over from previous years, and sort them out. Some vegetable seeds retain a good germination rate for many years (tomatoes, cabbages, courgette, beans…) and some are no good after just one year – old carrot and parsnip seeds are better thrown away.
I make a list of what I want to grow – every year I test new varieties and conduct small trials. Last year for example I grew a polyculture of annual vegetables, that was incredibly productive. I go through catalogues of my favorite seed companies and order seeds that I don’t have.

I draw a plan of the garden a decide what will go where. That is not definite, the plan will evolve during the season, but for me at least, it is important to start with a plan.

Because our new allotment is a lot smaller, the planning will be easier this year. I will also grow less extra stuff (cut flowers) so that we can still grow a lot to eat. So far we have four raised beds in place (1,2 m x 2,8 m) to which we added a lot of compost from our old compost heaps. Somewhere in March and April, I am planning to add at least four more beds.
And even though it’s freezing outside, we were actually able to harvest something – from our simple cold frame. It never seizes to amaze me, how much difference this simple structure makes! We moved the frame in September and I replanted into it some self-sown winter purslane, chervil, rocket and parsley. All these vegetables are pretty hardy, but still grow much faster and better in the cold frame.

Happy gardening!


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