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Lugh Ildánach

Gardening in January

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I may as well share my gardening experience with the rest of you. Anyone with greener fingers than me, please tell me where I'm going wrong.

 

I have six beds in my back garden, approx 7 x 5 feet each (actual feet, as I don't have a ruler). Its good practice to rotate crops so that disease and pests don't get hold of one patch of ground. The 6 main groups are as follows:

 

- Potatoes (this family also includes tomatoes and peppers, but these both really need a greenhouse)

- Brassicas (Cabbage family, incl brocolli, sprouts, turnip)

- Curcubits (cucumber - which also really needs a greenhouse, squash, courgettes)

- Alliums (onions, leeks, garlic, scallions)

- Beet (beetroots, chard)

- Legumes (peas, beans)

 

I plan to slot in lettuce and spinach wherever it will fit as these don't need to be rotated!

 

I also have a small patch for my strawberries, and a small greenhouse that I got for xmas that I'll use to propagate and to grow tomatoes, peppers and cucumber which need the heat.

 

Its not strictly required to have six separate beds, a few of these can be merged together, but its good practice to have at least three separate beds so you're not growing the same veg on the same patch year on year.

 

Its been a mild January so far. According to all gardening info that I've read, it really should be a month to hide inside, and perhaps order some seeds in, but I've spent two mornings this week in the garden, and hope to get a third tomorrow.

 

The best way for the urban gardener to make a bed is to start work the previous autumn, by covering the plot that they want with cardboard to shut out the light from the weeds, and then cover it over with organic matter like compost or manure (or both). I did a couple of my beds like this, but I was impatient and also didn't want the expense of getting so much topsoil and manure, so a couple of my beds are just dug out with a spade, and I'll add to them from my compost heap over time. Raised beds with timber sides look great, although aren't necessary. They are easy to make though if you have access to some old pallets or something along those lines.

 

Anyways beds need to be dug or prepared and have manure or any other organic material added at this stage, as it can take a few months for the material to break down and reach the right level of acidity (apparently anyway! I haven't worried about pH levels and I don't think its killed anything off on me yet!). I didn't start last year until about April, and managed some results, so there is a little time yet for those who haven't started, but you'd want to be getting a move on soon.

 

Its now about time to start chitting potatoes (which can be done even if you haven't done any other preparations). This is the process of getting your seed potato (they recommend buying professional seed potatoes that are certified disease free, but there's so much blight around that you probably won't avoid it anyway, and regular spuds from the shop work too!) and leaving it in a light, cool room, preferably in old egg cartons, and allow sprouts to appear. It takes a few weeks, and this apparently gives the potato a great head start when it gets planted. The earliest potatoes will go into the ground in February, so its probably about time to start this now. But don't worry if you're not ready to start yet, I planted potatoes last year at the start of August and still got a crop from them!!!

 

Spuds come in three main varieties, earlies, 2nd earlies and maincrop. The earlies are the ones that will be going in soon, and are ready in about 3-4 months. The conditions this early in the season don't support blight, so they are usually pretty disease free! Early planting does however run the risk of frost damage. They don't give as much a yield as a maincrop species either. I'm impatient (and hungry thinking of those tasty new spuds), so I'm concentrating on my earlies this year!!!

 

Leeks are about the only other thing that you would need think about sowing at this stage (or broad beans, but I can't stand them, so i'll not be growing these!). Leeks are sown indoors (broad beans you can put straight in the ground), and not transplanted into the garden for a while. I like a bit of leek soup, so i'll maybe pick up my leek seeds this weekend, along with some manure for my beds.

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Guest Connolly

Good post.

 

One thing I have growing in my garden at the moment is bunches of shamrocks. After the soil was disturbed they started growing somehow. They are quite decorative and as far as I know can be used for food. I dont see them around much anymore. Mostly the 4 leaf clovers.

 

Some herbs can be grown all year round. Wiki is down so I can check up but Marjoram, mint, thime and parsely can probably be grown year round.

 

Rhubarb and mushrooms can be grown in january too?

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Good post.

 

One thing I have growing in my garden at the moment is bunches of shamrocks. After the soil was disturbed they started growing somehow. They are quite decorative and as far as I know can be used for food. I dont see them around much anymore. Mostly the 4 leaf clovers.

 

Some herbs can be grown all year round. Wiki is down so I can check up but Marjoram, mint, thime and parsely can probably be grown year round.

 

Rhubarb and mushrooms can be grown in january too?

 

Yeah, rhubarb and soft fruit trees/bushes are planted in January too. I don't know about mushrooms at all. Actually I got a blackcurrant bush as a present there last weekend and it is now happily planted beside my greenhouse. Homemade Ribena come July or August!!!!!

 

I was doing a little more reading and apparently sprouts and onions can be sown indoors around this time too. And as you say many herbs can be grown all year round. Even the less hardy ones can be grown indoors on a window shelf during the winter. Rocket is another one which is easy to grow and is ready for picking after only a few weeks!

 

Another trick to beat Mother Nature is to construct a coldframe. Just get some wood sides, like from a pallet, and put a piece of glass or perspex on the top. It acts as a mini-green house and you can start off your seedlings or herbs under it much earlier!

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Just in from an afternoon spent in the garden, very therapeutic!

 

Took a trip up to Woodies the other day and they have a great range of CHEAP seeds (along with the branded EXPENSIVE ones). Got myself a whole pile of veg for very little. Sprouts, leeks, a couple of different types of peas, some seed potatoes, parsnips, onion sets, garlic and then I treated myself to some luxury items (although still cheap) in a pack of melon, kiwi and strawberry seeds, and a pack of different chillies and sweet peppers for the greenhouse!

 

This afternoon was spent digging in a couple of bags of manure into my beds, and they're looking quite healthy, even if they smell like shit :D You can really tell the difference from how the ground was at the start of last year. The bed I had my tomatoes in last year has really improved from having them in there, and my potatoes not only gave me a crop last year, they have also nicely contributed to a better soil for the bed this year.

 

This week I'll start sowing my seedlings and chit my potatoes. I went halves with another soviet member on the potatoes so we have two different varieties of early potatoes between us, Maris Bard and Rockets, the pictures on the packaging looked good anyway :rolleyes: But as I said earlier, you can probably get away with planting Aldi potatoes, especially early ones that aren't going to be as susceptible to blight anyway. But these were cheap, so I thought I'd experiment with them to see the difference.

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Here's a useful tool for figuring out what goes into the ground when. https://www.quickcro...hgrowthcalendar

 

February we have soft fruits, garlic, onion sets which are planted outdoors. Indoors we would be sowing tomato and pepper seeds, for transfer later to the greenhouse later on. I also have some early variety carrot seeds which can be sown from february too.

 

Also, you can plant Jerusalem Artichokes in February http://www.giyirelan...and_broad_beans I grew these last year, they took their time to start growing but when they did, they were towering over everything else in the garden. Unfortunately my landlord wrecked them when he was clearing the hedges before I got the chance to harvest them, although I may be able to rescue some of the tubers for replanting this year. But they are very easy to grow, and I think that to keep morale up that we should concentrate on growing easy vegetables. The height of them is also impressive so it will give the garden an additional visible presence.

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