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Putting Lottie to Bed for the Winter

It’s the end of the growing season now, although I do have some cabbages, broccoli, leeks and chard to continue through the winter. For the most part it’s time to clear all the beds of any last few bits that are dying back and compost them and then start the mulching process on the beds.

But first I need to collect some seeds for next year's planting. I have runner beans, black beans, butter beans and borlotti beans in their pods drying ready to be shelled and saved. But this year I am also collecting fennel seeds from the plants I allowed to go to seed. Again bringing them home to dry. Some will be used for next year's planting and some for cooking. Sweet peas are easy to collect and nasturtiums I don’t worry about as they are prolific self seeders and will just arrive all on their own in the spring.

I am also saving the seeds from the pumpkin and squash as I use them, leaving them on a piece of kitchen roll to dry. All of this will save me money in the spring. But most importantly I need to prepare the beds for the new year of planting and autumn is the time to do this.

The fruit cage needs a good tidy up. The raspberries need cutting down to just above ground level and I will keep the sticks from them as I want to try weaving next year. I will mulch around the raspberries with manure once this has been done.

The strawberry plants I will tuck away with some straw around them and then cover them with fleece and carefully tie this in place with garden string. And the blueberries will be just fine and are quite beautiful at the moment as the leaves turn a vibrant red.

My intention is, as I clear each bed, I want to mulch it and cover it up for the winter months. We are very fortunate as we have pig manure delivered at the allotment and my first job is to layer this on the beds once they have been cleared. Sometimes if I have grass cuttings again I spread a layer on the beds. And before the winter really sets in, my intention is to go to the coast and collect some seaweed. This I will chop with my hedge trimming shears and then spread over the plot.

Once I have my mulch layers I will cover the beds in black plastic. There are two reasons for doing this. One is that it suppresses weeds that may try to grow over the winter but also the black plastic draws the warmth of the sun in the spring and warms the ground much quicker. This means as a no dig gardener I can plant things a little earlier and just fleece them over to protect them from the last frosts.

So once all of this is done I turn my attention to my shed. This is a time to do all the jobs there are no time for in the summer months. The first job is a good tidy up. Throwing away any rubbish that has accumulated and put a little order in the shed.

Then look at my tools, they will need a clean and some will need sharpening and they can all do with wiping over with an oil cloth to prevent rust through the winter months. Wash any pots and stack them away tidily and give the shed a sweep.

Any seed packets I have, I take home as the shed can be a little damp and they will rot or encounter little visitors. All my bamboos are tidied away at the back of the shed in my bamboo wrack that is just a pallet turned on it’s side and screwed to the shed. Then it’s time for a final scout round and securing any cabbage nets well because of the winter winds and making sure everything is safe and secure.

I will still visit Lottie on a regular basis through the winter months collecting greens and leeks etc and just making sure everything is ok, but for now she has been cleaned and fed and can sleep the winter away under her covers and wait for spring.

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Meet Sue & Katie

Two women. Two generations. Both mothers and lovers of the county where they live. Blogging about Dorset here at Dorset Country Life. Find out more...

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