I've decided to take a leaf out of my French neighbours book. It seems that you can wish "Happy New Year" throughout the month of January, so, I know I'm late, but it's still January!
The onset of 2012 has started me looking at plans for 2012 and the garden. 2011 was a terrible year for me and I am determined to do better in 2012. So, with that in mind I started today by doing a couple of things.
Firstly, I looked at my planting schedule and decided where everything would be grown. I'm operating a four year rotation and this is the fourth year, so the basics were already worked out. When I built the garden a few years ago I made beds of 1.2m (4ft) by 7.5m (23ft). The 1.2 m width has proved excellent as it gives ample room to reach right into the middle of the bed if needed. In between the beds I left paths, but they are just mowed continually, and the size of my mower, determined the 6--mm (2ft) width of the paths. I also left a double width path right through the middle so that, if needed, I can get my little tractor and trailer through. This years schedule originally called for 19 beds to be used, but I'm going to cut back. I'm intending to grow in 15 of the beds. This is actually the number of beds that are prepared at the moment, so that was also a consideration.
Three of the beds are permanently planted, one with asparagus, one with hazelnut bushes and the third with artichokes in one half and rhubarb in the other. This leaves just 12 beds to prepare, plant and grow. However, I'm also thinking of collecting all my strawberries into one permanent bed, so that will cut it down to 11.
Secondly, I started to prepare the beds. I ran the mower over everything cutting all the weeds down to size and then I started to spread a mulch over each bed. I started today and covered 1 bed. The mulch will suppress weeds and encourage worm activity to improve the soil. This is the same method I used to create the beds, simply covering the area with mulch and leaving it there for a month or two over winter. Today's mulch is leaves and grass, collected as I cut the garden.
I'm hoping to get access to some goat manure, but since changing my car, I don't have a hitch right now, for my trailer, so the manure will have to wait.
The third and last thing I did today was to start to look at my seeds collection. As I said previously, last year was a bit of a disaster for me. I did manage to save some seeds but not many. I lost all my tomato seeds, which makes me very sad. It wasn't so much a disaster as a series of unfortunate events. The drought severely reducing the amount of stock I had to save seeds from and then various losses over winter as the usual culprits, mice, freeloaded whilst I was gadding about in the UK and the USA. I have to dig a bit to see what I have from 2009 but at the moment, in Tomatoes, I think Ionly have Moneymaker and Marmande
So, if anyone is reading this and has any tomato seeds to spare, please email. I normally grow about 6 varieties but this year, I'll grow what ever I can get.
Happier news is that I did save quite a few beans, garlic and onions, so not everything is lost.