We all know instinctively whether or not we want to garden. Sure, for some people there will be follow-up questions of when, what and how, but we start from a position of knowing we want to grow. A lot of the decisions that we take from there are guided by received wisdom. Because gardening is a spring/summer pursuit, right? Spring means new life. Summer is sunny. The rest of the year brings decay. Right?
The truth is, if you want to get the best from your garden, it’s a year-round pursuit. If you do it properly, your garden can be providing you with new flowers, fruit, and veg from January to December. You just need to know how to approach it. So let’s just say you make a New Year Resolution to do more in the garden. What would that look like?
To get things started, you need to start with a seed, or rather many seeds. Plant a few of each thing you want to grow, and allow them to propagate. If your home gets a lot of sun, then even if it isn’t that warm you can propagate seeds on a sunny windowsill. Give them an even better chance with a heated seed propagator. From here, you’ll start to get some seedlings which you can take forward to…
Spring: You’ll Know When It’s Sprung
If you’ve been propagating your early seeds, you should now have some seedlings. Some will be standing proud and making real progress. Others will be clearly lagging behind. It’s time to thin the herd – keep the ones that have a real chance of thriving and move them to bigger containers in your greenhouse. Prepare the beds for planting out later, and nourish the soil. Oh, and if you want Holly for Christmas, plant it now.
Summer: Now We’re Talking…
Transfer the strongest of your seedlings, which should now be looking like mature plants, to the beds. Some of them should have multiple shoots, so trim off the least healthy. This will allow the plant to direct all available energy to the healthiest ones. Start seedlings for any late-harvesting plants such as cabbage, or pumpkins – in time to harvest those in late October!
Autumn: Leaves Are Falling, But Your Garden Is Still Going
Harvest any pumpkins and other late-harvested crops. Start to prepare early-flowering plants such as crocuses and tulips. If you’re looking to plant tulips, the best time is in November. That’s when they start putting down roots, and the colder temperatures will keep at bay any viral and fungal diseases. Collect the falling leaves and use them as mulch to protect the soil around plants and trees.
Now, if all of this is sounding a lot like hard work, remember one thing. Good growing feeds good soil and a garden that works year-round means you have less work to do each spring. Like anything else in life, the more you do now, the less you have to do later. Not just that, but the greener your fingers get, the more you’ll be able to do by instinct.
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