So far February has been the coldest months this winter and more cold weather is expected in the coming weeks, so it will be a while longer before we can start sowing outside. I want to use this time-out to look back at 2017, our second season on our dream plot. (If you’re interested, here’s an overview of our first season ). Even though the trees we planted will take many more years to reach maturity, it is a joy to watch the garden getting closer and closer to our vision for it.
January & February
In January we were treated to some snow and apart from pruning there was not much we could do. We rigorously pruned the old hazel by removing all lower branches in order to allow more light under the tree. With all the raised beds in place, full of compost and protected by mulch, the start of this gardening season was much more relaxed than last year!
The weather warmed up enough for the first sowings and plantings to be made. In a no-dig garden all we have to do before sowing is raking the mulch to the side! Later this months we harvested the first blanched rhubarb and to my delight it turned out the mice did not actually eat all the spring bulbs I planted the previous fall!
As usual, we spent the Easter weekend in the garden, this year building a long-dreamt-of greenhouse. A momma duck decided our little pond was THE place to raise a family. On the 20th temperatures dropped dangerously low which impacted the flowering fruit trees. I managed to cover the apple tree in our backyard with a fleece, so we would at least get some apples. At the end of the month we picked the first tiny salad plants from our polyculture sown on the 2nd.
The two most exciting events of the month were probably taking the first bird’s eye view photos of our plot with our drone and planting a red-fleshed apple ‘Redlove Calypso’ in my cottage garden – I so hope we’ll get some fruits this year!
The cottage garden bursting with flowers, mainly biannials such as Sweet William and foxgloves and attracting so many bees (what a difference a month makes!). The vegetable garden full of vegetables – the whole garden a joy!
The picture below shows the varied herb layer under our young apricot and peach trees – the plants have different functions (we filmed a video about this if you’re interested). Some of the herbs I pick and dry for medicinal teas and they even make a pretty bouquet! The greenhouse is full of heat-loving crops and pond is full of frogs – happy days!
The garden got along just fine in our three week absence – only some serious mowing was needed when we came back from vacation. Some exciting harvests were awaiting us: the first melons (‘Minnesota Midget’), edamame soya and Russian olive ‘Sweet ‘n’Tart’.
In September the National Dutch TV came to film in our garden (!) and we got to taste our one and only watermelon. The squashes at the back of our plot grew rampant and we discovered that the mushrooms spontaneously growing in our wood chip mulch were wine caps.
With a lot of help from a few friends and family members, we built a pergola from sweet chestnut poles to grow edible climbers. We also harvested our winter squashes and reviewed the 7 different varieties in a video.
The sweet potato harvest from our greenhouse exceeded our expectations, as did the yacon harvest from the three plants grown at the back of our property with next to no care. We started harvesting parsnips from our still full polyculture bed and towards the end of the month I planted 5 varieties of garlic.
On the first day of December, we filmed a harvest video to show off the vegetables that can still be harvested in the colder months. While frost finished some less hardy plants, there was still plenty to pick from leeks, kale and parsnips to the hardy mustard ‘Green-in-the -Snow’ in the greenhouse.
I hope you enjoyed this overview of our 2017 season in a lot of pictures – thanks for following along! Now I’m off to draw the plan for the kitchen garden for 2018 and start some seeds on the window sill – happy gardening!