The sun may be shrouded by clouds, the last crop of tomatoes a fragrant but distant memory, but the darker winter months don’t have to mean a total retreat indoors.
Even without the warm weather there’s still plenty of opportunity for some highly productive and tasty gardening:
- start growing some winter lettuce so you can enjoy fresh salad greens even in the gloomy months
- get the most out of your greenhouse
- and plant some garlic.
We’ve got more about all of these ideas below…
You can grow these in any sheltered spot – they’re quite tolerant. Just mix in some compost to the soil. If you are growing these hardy lettuces outside, you may need to give them some added protection. A good Make it and Mend it tip is to make home-made cloches – by using large plastic soft drinks bottles to protect the seedlings from frost.
- Sew the seeds directly into the soil – make a narrow drill and sew the seeds about half an inch apart.
- Once the seedlings have grown and are showing a few leaves, you’ll need to thin them out so the strongest ones are left with plenty of room to grow – one plant every six inches or so.
- You can replant the rejected seedlings elsewhere or bung them in a salad.
- Don’t let your seedlings dry out if it’s really dry – but make sure they don’t get waterlogged either. Hopefully they’ll get enough moisture naturally over the winter.
Now that winter approaches, the greenhouse can be a welcome place of retreat for humans as well as plants. If you’re lucky enough to have one it means you can get to keep pottering about right through the winter months.
At the time of writing, early November we’re lucky this year to be having plenty of sunny days and these are perfect for getting that greenhouse ventilated – but don’t forget to close the vents before too late in the afternoon so you can trap some of the warmth of the afternoon sunshine before the temperature drops.
Now is a good time to wash the glass so you don’t stop any of that valuable winter sunshine from getting through. Wash the panes inside and out with warm soapy water and if necessary some disinfectant.
If you aren’t lucky enough to have a greenhouse or don’t have room for one, how about a mini one? You can find a number like the one picture on the left on Amazon, so you can actually get at your plants easily and stay out of the cold.
November is a great time of year to start planting garlic. You can start planting the cloves from Halloween onwards. Ideally plant it in batches so you get crops throughout the summer. You can use garlic from the supermarket but you might have less success with this than if you purchased it from your garden centre.
- Break the heads of garlic into cloves.
- In milder conditions just plant them in good soil about 10cms apart.
- In harsher climates you may want to start them out in an unheated greenhouse or under a cold frame.
- Cover them in cloches or old plastic water bottles when there’s a danger of frost.