Just-a-seedling Gardener

What to do, what to do

Well, Christmas is long gone. We have suffered through January, for what feels like about a year and a half, with its cold nights, soggy mornings and empty bank accounts. Now, with February looming, I would like to say I am raring to go in the garden, ready to chop back and tidy, but my enthusiasm is, unfortunately, quite lacking.

I think it is both the lack of nice, sunny days (I love a crisp winter day) and the fact that garden is covered in leaf mulch, as we were so busy we didn’t have time to keep on top of the army of leaves that inundated us over autumn. (But it will be all right next year. My darling husband bought me ‘leaf scoopers’ for Christmas. Who said romance is dead?). Having forced myself to do some tidying this weekend, I can admit that, despite my aching back (the leaf scoopers are flawed) I am happier now that I can see my borders. And it has given me the headspace to try to start designing the vegetable patches for next year, as well as adding to some of the flower borders. *see expert opinion below - to leaf or not to leaf

My question is: do I persevere with stuff that did NOT grow last year, or give up and move on? Am I a quitter? (If it’s basil, then the answer is, yes, probably. Still can’t get the damn thing to grow past a few centimetres) But I’m not sure I want to give up on other items yet – like carrots. I tried carrots in a large, deep planter (we have rabbits so avoided the main patch). I had a few varieties – Nantes 2 for example. Why mess with the best? Well, apparently because the best grow into spindly, useless pieces of orange hair, despite careful watering.

But I LOVE fresh carrots (a lot like Peter Rabbit in that regard) so I think I will try again, but what to change? I might set aside a small piece of veggie patch for the carrots, under no illusions that it will probably get decimated unless I can convince my husband to fortify it – I’m thinking a mini equivalent to Fort Knox. Those rabbits are wiley.

Do I need to try again in a container and change the soil? Add some extra sand, or buy a specific compost? I will feel like a complete failure as a gardener if I can’t even grow carrots!

So, perhaps the answer is to concentrate on carrots, and a few other favourites this year, with a variety of growing methods, to see if any work. After all the potatoes in tyres worked nicely, even if it did add to the Steptoe and Son look of the premises.

* There is mixed opinion on removing leaves. Considered wisdom is to remove from grassed areas but leave on bare soil/ flower borders overwinter so they rot down and become incorporated into the soil (or dug in spring) providing beneficial nutrients and humus (organic matter). Or if you have room gather into a leaf bin or bags, mixed with grass cuttings and leave to rot down to form lovely rich mulch, ideal for spreading on your veg patch or borders. Try not to expose bare soil as it can be washed away from roots or frosted (!) damaging emerging shoots