8 Dec 2015

It's brassicas out there

It would be gratifying to be able to write about the garden in December with vibrant photos but, truth be told, there's not a lot going on.  Oh sure, the rivers of curly kale are not about to dry up any time soon, Cavolo Nero is still the champion producer of leaves for supper after nearly nine months in the ground (I don't pick every day so it has a chance to catch up) although it's looking more like a palm tree every day, calabrese heads are plumping up and the purple sprouts are looking so good I'm almost loathe to pick them.  So it's all about the brassicas at the moment.  My winter chard is a total fail, the failure being that I didn't make time to sow any seeds, ditto spinach and overwintering broad beans. As the forecast harsh winter hasn't yet materialised, I may chance a few of those seeds under cloches; I seriously doubt it will come to much but what's to lose?

I was gardening in the dark on Friday evening, as you do when stuff has kept you indoors for most of the day - and it was actually very pleasant.  Comfortably mild with a stiff breeze and plenty of light from nearby flats to light my way - one real benefit of city gardening is that it's never pitch black.  Taking my cue from plant biologist Professor Ken Thompson, I decided to cut down my raspberry canes now; the Autumn Bliss are definitely going and will be dug up next week as I need to clear the space for the veg patch redesign - my winter project.  Most of my raised beds have rotted to the point of falling apart and I've been given four new scaffolding boards (whoop whoop!) and a pile of new old-style bricks to make some paths. There's gonna be a whole lot of digging going on.  And, come spring time, lots of tulips and daffodils to start off my new cut flower patch area, if I ever get the bulbs planted … although I probably won't actually pick any of the spring flowers as I like everyone to enjoy the view.  That's the plan, let's see if there's enough available time.

I might have just lied when I said that the garden was all brassicas.  The globe artichoke that I grew from a seed (I love saying that) looks like it will need splitting. The plant started new growth in the autumn and I can see there are three plants there now.  It was huge in the summer and had to be thwacked out of the way to get past it so I'm going to try and move it. I'm not sure how easy they are to lift and divide - has anyone successfully done that or do you leave yours to get monstrously huge? Do tell, please.

I will, however, definitely be moving my Glaskins perpetual rhubarb (also grown from a seed, heheh); it's only just stopped producing huge leaves in the last few weeks and is growing in the middle of my planned flower patch so will only be tolerated in the future if it's contained in a corner or even another part of the garden - perhaps next to the Red Champagne rhubarb which I planted when the Glaskin's was still relatively manageable.

Frosty temperatures in November brought an end to my cheery nasturtiums; a few of them struggled on but I've pulled out most of them now, they look so awful when wilted by frost.  Thank goodness for scabious and nicotiana, both still flowering and making me smile along with one solitary echinacea, a few roses, heuchera's coral bells and, soon I hope, snowdrops.

Winter is such a good time to make plans and this keeps me connected with nature and the garden. How's winter shaping up for you and your garden?

Thank you to everyone who congratulated me on my GMG award - as usual, all your lovely comments brought a smile to my face and left me feeling perky all day. Caro xx


  1. How exciting! It's lovely to have the opportunity to make a change or two.
    Have you tried the purple sprouts before? Do they keep their colour on cooking?

  2. So glad I'm not the only one with a limited choice on the allotment but it's all good and nutritious and it's organic.

  3. Love your sprinkling of flowers, and your kale and calabrese are looking brilliantly healthy. I will need new raised beds before too long, my boards are rotting away as well. I love the sound of the old style bricks, they'll make a beautiful path I think. I have an enormous row of artichokes at the allotment that are a lot bigger than anticipated. I've not moved them yet, although that could be an option, they tend to dwarf my little flower patch. I might just get rid of them at some stage and sow new, although they're really productive. CJ xx

  4. I have a lovely colourful patch of red cabbage. However it is all soon to be dispatched & I shall be left with a view of green & lots of brown. I like winter in the veg patch lots of plans to be made for next year x

  5. It's good to see that you're still harvesting and keeping busy. Like you I'm pondering about next year.
    I don't do much plotting at this time of year but certainly made the most of a sunny morning today. Flighty xx

  6. Congratulations on your GMG award! How fab! Congratulations on your lovely greens too! I am always impressed by brassica growers. I did grow them once upon a time, but got bored with all the hoo-hah with netting, pigeons, CDs, caterpillars, white fly, blown buttons.... and decided that chard would suffice on the green front. I am always sad to have to buy sprouts in for Christmas day. Good luck with finding time for bulb planting!

  7. I'm not sure how our plot is faring, if we ever get there again and let you know.

  8. Your garden is doing so well! Around here, winter is the time for planning the garden on paper. It must be really nice to be able to revamp your garden over the winter months. With our harsh weather, the actual work has to be done during the gardening season. This past year I added 9 new beds which consumed most of my free time and my veg definitely suffered. But, of course, I'm still dreaming of more new beds - I would love to have one just for cutting flowers. All in good time...next year I'll be taking a break from garden building and do a bit more garden enjoying :)

  9. what a lovely lush green garden right now, caro - it must be heavenly to retreat and do some night-time gardening! we're now enjoying longer days as we head into summer, so I often find myself pottering about contentedly, then wondering why my tummy's rumbling - because with the light i haven't noticed how late it is, and I haven't been inside yet for dinner!
    enjoy all that green goodness.


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