Reflecting on last year
It’s a good time to reflect on current gardening year and to make plans for next year. The more we plan, the easier it will be. Hopefully you remember which varieties did well in your garden and stick to them and if not try some different ones. There is quite a difference between varieties in terms of taste, reliability, disease resistance and yield. Some varieties also seem more suited to different gardens and growing conditions.
How well did your vegetables grow overall? Was there lots of leaf growth and small roots? That means that too much nitrogen was added (probably in the form of farmyard manure). Were your plants stunted? The reason could be a lack of fertility or alternatively waterlogged soil. We should always try to learn from bad years.
Vegetables are certainly hungrier plants compared to flowers. The reason is simple: you want to eat a cabbage, tomato, etc and thus remove nutrients from the soil as we take vegetables into the kitchen. So we need to replace these nutrients back into the soil and the best form is compost, composted manure and seaweed. One of these will provide the mainstay of your soil fertility. The advantage of these bulky organic fertilisers is that they do not only add nutrients to the soil but they also improve the soil structure. They improve drainage, waterholding capacity, prevent erosion, compaction etc. The nutrients are also released in a slow release form. You couldn’t wish for more!
Now is a good time to get some manure and either compost it with your own compost or separately. I would strongly recommend that you cover the heap to prevent leaching of nutrients. Alternatively you can spread it straight onto the vegetable beds, cover it up with soil which has washed onto the paths and then make sure that you cover it all up with black plastic for the winter.
You can also start planning next year’s cropping plan.