Have you had enough of the outdoors this year? Are you just tempted by firesides, books, blankets and TV?
I understand completely, I am on that very same page. However it is lovely to be outside in these dying days of Autumn. There is just enough heat in the sun during the day to make it comfortable to potter around without getting cold in to your bones.
I am not a hardy soul by any means. I always find that at this time of year my natural inclination to hibernate a little far outweighs what I know to be the health benefits of taking some fresh air. However, a tiny bit of gardening never did anybody any harm. And when I say tiny I mean minuscule. Just enough to stave off the guilt until spring.
Ivan has outdone himself this year in the pumpkin stakes, we had a big yield of them. Not to take away from the pride he feels in his acheivement, but there is no massive secret to pumpkins. Give them a bit of space, water them a little if things really dry out, but all in all they are hardy and happy to be ignored. Give them a go next year, just for the novelty factor if you want. But they are also easily stored over winter, so you can keep pumpkin recipes going until the new year.
We had a bountiful summer in the veg patch, with endless courgettes, green beans, chard and peas to mention but a few. If you choose the right seeds, sown at the right time, you can still enjoy homegrown produce right over the winter. We’ve got an abundance of swiss chard, kale and savoy cabbage in the garden, enough to accompany warming winter stews for the next few months. Growing parsnips guarantees satisfaction, once the first frost has passed they get sweeter, and they will stand all winter long , just harvest as you need them.
If you really don’t want to look at the veg patch until spring then perhaps sowing green manure is the best thing you can do, as we have done on one of the veg beds. Green manures are grown for their benefits and not to harvest. They improve the soil, suppress weeds, can be nitrogen fixing and are often among the first flowers in spring to attract vital insects. We chose phacelia this year, to be dug back in to the soil at some point.
The flower boxes have been stored away for this year. I have no illusions that I am going to maintain any beautiful winter baskets like my dad does, he hasn’t handed on that particular talent. However, I am loathe to leave my little window boxes on the shed without some dressing, so I picked up winter heathers to fill them. Surely even i cannot screw that up? I will try hard to keep them alive as flowering heathers are a lifeline for bees who dare to venture out on mild winter days.
So to summarise, all that will get me outside on cold days is the temptation of homegrown veg and the small matter of saving the planet, one bee at a time. Isn’t that reason enough?
Thank you for reading.