Self Sufficiency Garden – December

Our garden isn’t going as quite self-sufficient over winter as I’d hoped.  Only because I was so busy looking after the summer growing harvests I hadn’t planned for getting the winter crops in early enough.  That’s not to say it’s quiet, it’s just a lot quieter in the garden, crop wise than I want it to be.  I should stop beating myself up though, this after all is the first full year the garden has been productive without all the displacements of plants, paths, and pots!

However, I still have much to update you on, plus below I’ve got a selection of jobs I need to get done in the garden over December and a helpful guide to other jobs you can do in your garden at this time of the year too.

I’ll add my photo’s at the beginning of each post so if you haven’t got time to read you can quickly glance at the garden’s update.

As always, let me know what you think.  Is it useful or just a pain to read?  

December’s Update

Raised Beds

Salad leaves – check, spinach – check, spring onions, check.  That’s all going well.

I’ve also spent a fair time clearing away and hoeing over the beds this last weekend.

It’s been very therapeutic clearing away the old and making everything tidy ready for next year.  Just hoeing over the beds make them look nicer even though there isn’t much in them at the moment.

I’ve had to admit defeat on the potato front.  The seed potatoes appear to have turned into worm fodder.

Also I now only have three (out of the 12 I planted) savoy cabbages left in the one bed, the rest having succumbed to what might be cabbage white fly which I think is just ongoing issues from my cabbage growing battles earlier in the year.  I am pleased three have survived really!

In contrast all the swede plants are doing exceptionally well and look good at the moment.

Grow House

I have added a lot of container plants now to the grow-house to protect them from frosts.  Annoyingly the grow house appears to have a wet (not even as in damp, almost wringing) inside cover all the time.  I can’t find any holes and as much as I air the grow house out it never seems to dry!  Word to the wise, don’t buy these grow houses.  I’ve had to replace the covers twice now and still it’s not right.  Really not much chance of growing anything that isn’t hardy until next March in the grow house.  So it’s just a store house at the moment.  Gutted 😦

I’ve been thinking of creating my own grow house.  I struggle to justify spending so much money on a decent greenhouse even though it would probably save me in the long run.   I thought for a time I’d opt for a poly tunnel but the boss thought aesthetically it wouldn’t be pleasing to look out onto, and as our garden is very square there aren’t a lot of ways I can hide something I’m trying to get as much light into.

I found a guy on line who appears to have created a very successful plan for a grow house made out of wood and plastic sheeting, which should cost around the region of between £100 to £150 to make.  You can see his video here:

While the plans look very do-able (I’d have to convert all the inches to cm’s), and the wood easy to find, I think I’d struggle to find the cattle panels (which I think we call stock panels) and the durable plastic cover. If you’ve ever done anything like this I’d be pleased to hear how well it went.

Fence

Both the apple and plum espalier first length of branches are now complete and completely horizontal.  It didn’t take as long as I’d expected.

Other areas

I planted another 50 mini daffodil bulbs to the areas around the eucalyptus tree and around the raspberry path to hopefully bring even more colour to the garden next year.

The raspberry plants are nearly all asleep now for winter.  I shall hopefully be able to move the ones from the containers into the ground this coming year.  I would say they have been extremely easy to work with but for the one cane I lost because I didn’t manure and compost the area sufficiently.

The fruit bushes (blueberry and blackcurrant) are now in hibernation mode.  Also very easy to grow, I’m tempted to find space for a couple more blackcurrant canes as the harvest from just one (after one year) was impressive.  Plus they are really cheap to buy.

Front Garden

I’ve now got an area that’s about two meters by two meters at the end of our garden (on a north facing position) that I’m not sure what to do with.  I’m not great with planning and originally I was going to extend my prairie vision with grasses and native bushes but now I’m wondering if I could grow more crops on this area?  What do you think?  It’s pretty close to the road, so don’t want to grow anything that cold get trashed or nicked.  I know north facing isn’t ideal but it does get plenty of sun in all but the winter months.

If you’ve got any ideas please let me know.

My top three jobs to do in December:

  1. I thought growing lettuce indoors would be easy but I need to find a decent window sill planter.  I want to be able to recycle the container if poss, and pretty it up if needs be.  You wouldn’t think this would be hard to find but it’s carried over from my November to do unfortunately.
  2. Time to plant the sweet peas!  They were really impressive last year, and pretty easy to grow once they germinated.
  3. Move trees and shrubs about.  While I’m deciding what to do in the front I do want to get rid of the circle that was planted in the middle of our front lawn (before we arrived) and which I’ve since filled up with an acer and compact conifers.  While the circle does break the eye line of the lawn up I want a nice straight unobstructed line for mowing next year.  You’ll find out why next week!

Garden jobs to do around the garden in December:

  • Continue to rake up leaves and add to composter
  • Force rhubarb crowns with a bucket to cut out the light.  This will force the rhubarb to tender thin growth which can be used in cooking, much earlier next year than waiting for it to grow naturally.
  • Still time to plant broad beans!
  • Add a plastic ball to your pond to stop it freezing over
  • Prune any free standing fruit trees and bushes (not espaliers) to keep their shape and to encourage new growth and fruit for next year.
  • Add manure to anything and everything – beds, borders, raised beds etc.

So, what will you be up to in the garden this month?

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