No dig winter mulch

No dig winter mulch

Growth slows in winter due to shorter daylight hours and low temperatures, even indoors or under cover. Plants need less watering; I feel the top of the houseplant soil and when it feels dry to the touch, carefully water or plunge to soak and then drain the excess.

Outside I have moved my herbs in pots to a less exposed position, accessible so I can continue to pick their fragrant leaves throughout winter.

We have had frost recently after the downpours, so I had to plan my mulching session carefully. Too wet I would compact the soil. Frozen I would trap the frost beneath. I have adopted the ‘no dig’ method to reclaim my ground. All my energy was used digging up the buried concrete patio left by the previous occupants. First I pull any weeds out, especially perennial ones like dandelions.

pulled weedsde-weeded ground

Next a layer of cardboard, those parcel boxes come in handy after all.  Spread out flat on frost free soil, I cover them with a layer of my crumbly home compost. Hopefully the worms will work all the materials into the soil, hence no digging.

layer of cardboardlayer of home compost mulch

That done I can retreat indoors to peruse the seed catalogues. I no longer have a dedicated vegetable plot. Like many of us, I now have a small garden which must be multi-purpose but I love to pick my own fresh produce and herbs.

The traditional advice is to’ rotate’ ie not to grow the same type of plants in the same place year on year to avoid depleting the soil and to deter pests and diseases. However, this was originally proposed for agriculture not small back gardens.  I grow in a more ‘cottage’ garden style mixing vegetables and flowers in the same growing space. Some of our vegetables such as rainbow chard or even lettuces provide colourful foliage. Intermingling flowers as ‘companion’ plants can deter or fool pests with their scent.

As with any plan it depends on the resources available. From a pot on the windowsill to an allotment plot, we can all grow something.

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