Making Order Out Of Chaos

I wish I had greater self discipline.
If I had, my veg garden wouldn't look quite so bad as it does at the moment

because I would have spent a few days in the Autumn tidying up, and generally putting everything to bed for the winter, like a proper gardener.

Of course I do have the very best of intentions as the summer season draws to its end. But come September and I'm snowed under with the harvest of apples and tomatoes and so on that need to be dealt with, and then in November I start to think about Christmas, and then whoof! before you know it, it's December and I've lost all my inclination to go out there until here I am in January surveying the bleak prospect. Again.

Anyway I made a start today by having a good tidy up. One of the benefits of having designated beds rather than traditional rows is that although the ground was still frozen , you can sort things out without needing to walk on the growing areas very much at all, so that compaction and damage to the soil structure is kept to a  minimum. So they're worth having if only for that. There are a few things still soldiering on, a row of perpetual spinach seems unaffected by the weather, but most of my brassicas, not usually great specimens in any case, are looking a bit past it. Some of the kale may be usable and some leeks, but I should really have dug them up before the snow. And of course, Jerusalem Artichokes, which are always around in January.

And that's about it really, so much for my plan of keeping us in salad greens during the winter! I should have grown my chicory in the greenhouse bed as all the outside plants have disappeared. Note for next year.  But the makings of a large compost heap are coming together, and it's amazing how when the old bean sticks and general detritus are cleared away, it does start to look a bit more respectable.

One note I have made to myself for next year, is that I will try to reduce my use of plastic materials in the garden to zero or as close as I can get. Plastic is cheap but doesn't wear very well in the garden environment. Beside my composting pile I have a small dayglo heap consisting of the remains  of some pea and bean netting , along with some bits of lurid green plastic which were once plant trays, all of which will have to go to landfill. So no more of that thanks.

Also I will try to make more use of my Compost Blocker, a natty little device that saves using pots at all, which you can buy from the Organic Gardening Catalogue  or from Blackberry Lane  and possibly make some more paper pots, which I have used with some success in previous years.

And finally now's a good time to go through your seed box and see what you've got leftover and what you need to order. Ferris over at Adventures in a Field reminded me that the best way to check whether your last year's seeds are still viable to to sprout a few indoors as a test. Much better than finding they don't come up and wasting valuable growing time getting fresh supplies.

And if you've been moaning about the weather at all here in the UK, (it's a national pastime) do take a quick look at Grannys blog from Queensland Australia, and think how lucky we actually are!


  1. This is one of the very reasons why I have kept all chores on a garden calendar. It breaks things up so I was no longer overwhelmed at this time of year. That and the fact that we have a lot of visitors to the garden, so tidiness is a must. Also having all my fruit trees espaliered and at a manageable six feet, we are not overwhelmed with an excess of fruit.

  2. No real garden here, but in a couple of weeks it will be time to trim back the vines and prune the trees and bushes. Guess that means another snow storm and bad cold spell, it always does that when it's time to trim!

  3. I didn't get round to doing a lot of the autumn clean-up either and it makes me feel much better seeing your garden (and Carol Klein's!) in a similar state to mine. No chance of doing anything at the moment, I garden on heavy clay and it's completely sodden at the moment. If it stays dry for a few days I might try and make a start though.

  4. There is something wonderfully satisfying about being in the garden in the midst of the bitter cold, just tidying and getting ready for spring. If you were "on schedule" in the fall, you'd have none of this to look forward to!

  5. Ever full time gardeners have the best of intentions that never seem to happen for one reason or another. I'm sure when we get some nice weather you will soon get your garden sorted out. If you can get out though you can do a lot of good work in Winter that will save you time come the spring.

  6. I think you will find a lot of our allotments look like that :-) If you are planting seedlings then toilet rolls are fab for planting up in. Start saving now and then cut them in half and plant up in then, then they rot away in time :-)

  7. Doc I envy your organisation

    Glad to know I'm not the only one though!

  8. Hi, I think your garden looks to be in pretty good shape. If it was all neat and tidy already, it wouldn't be enticing you out so much right now, and it would be a shame to miss any of this milder weather).

    I'm still busy inside checking the viability of my seeds - thanks for linking to that post of mine.

    I do find that the bed system does make it easier for tidying up without damaging the soil.

    For winter / spring salads it could be an idea to sow in September and use a mini tunnel on one one the beds to keep the worst of the weather off (subsistence patterns blog is great inspiration for going down that road).

    Happy tidying - show us a picture when its all done.

  9. I'm having trouble leaving comments at the moment as I'm having to use a different computer and it only leaves them when it feels like it.

    I'm really disorganised in the garden and should really have some sort of calendar for jobs because I often leave things too late.

  10. Are you sure you have posted the right garden photo? This looks just like my kitchen garden just now!

  11. You are not alone by any stretch. I think by the time the garden is winding down, our enthusiasm has too.

    I'm sure you'll get it tidy-ed up in good time. :)

  12. my allotment looks like Dresden,AFTER the bombing!
    the awful winter has created a real mess hasnt it?

  13. Haven't made it over to the allotment recently, and I'm dreading it when we do.

    Last time we were over, we discovered that someone had broken our shed window and crushed the mini tunnel over our winter salad greens. Did a few running repairs, but can't do a proper refurb until pay day and a visit to Wickes for a new sheet of polycarbonate.

    Miraculously, I had a sort out of some papers, and found the notebook for our first year allotmenteering. In in was the sketches and measurements that Howard had done for the original shed windows!

    Oh - and thanks for the soil blocker link. What would be really good would be a soil block designed to fit in a loo roll tube.

  14. this is garden is brand new to me, and as we moved in in mid november i've little idea what is out there. we had a landslide on one side of it in the heavy rain, so it is a bit dramatic just now. there's an old veg patch i can make use of, and a greenhouse, i do hope to get things in order, put in a compost, and grow something to eat this year. good luck with putting things in order, sometimes these things are easier than they look. x


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