Packing Up For Winter

I’m in countdown mode for our trip to the Alps which means I need to finish the MUST DO jobs on the allotment and in the garden. A few final fruit bushes and strawberries to plant out, clearing the remnants of this years growing, covering the beds and collecting the leaves for leaf mulch. But no digging this year.


I secretly like digging. There I’ve said it. There’s something deeply satisfying about digging and clearing a patch. But I’ve been gradually moving to the No-Dig method, where you keep adding layers of humus and compost, leaf mould, paper and grass clippings, manure. anything organic that will enrich the soil and break down. So now all I do is pull weeds. So my satisfaction comes from a clear bed and better soil.

You know those gardening programmes, the ones where you see a presenter digging a hole to plant something and the soil crumbles between their fingers. I dream of having soil like that, the official terminology is SOIL ENVY. Gradually over the last few years I’ve turned the allotment soil into something approaching presentable, I’m no longer dealing with football sized lumps of clay, merely tennis ball size. Progress is slow, but it’s no longer back-breaking.

I don’t buy many plants off the internet, I guess I just don’t buy many plants, mostly seeds. But when I do there is always a frisson of excitement when the postman knocks. The labelling is so dramatic, in my imagination they have similar packaging for live organ transplants!

I open the packet and there is a labelled plant – just a few bare twigs and some dried out roots. It seems a real leap of faith to plant something that looks so unpromising but come Spring will burst with new green shoots and provide me with tasty morsels in summer, in this case White Currants.

The Salads in the greenhouse have suffered from our unseasonally warm weather. I plant winter varieties to see us through, they all have names that include the words Ice, Winter, Arctic. The clue is in the name, they haven’t enjoyed the warmth and dry. The ones in the ground exposed to the elements look far healthier.

I was hoping to be able to tuck into some Cabbages and Cauliflowers before we went, but it looks like early spring for these fellows. SLOW is their modus operandi. The Brussel Sprouts, well they are finally showing, and the Kales are still very small for this time of year but are perking up now. On the up side the Winter Radish are still plodding along nicely, Spinach and Chard are growing well and I pulled the first Leeks of the season, still small but packed with flavour. Lightly steamed and gratinée, worth waiting for.

I’m an all year round gardener, so I’m going to miss my “no-digging”, my homegrown salads and veggies, walking up to the allotment on bright sunny days, feeling the cold air, pottering around, tinkering with this and that, standing staring out to sea with my flask of tea at the ready, selecting a few vegetables for our evening meal. But heck, it will be there for me come Spring and the new season.

Besides I’m off to play in the snow….


  • I know what you mean. This time of the year, I miss my garden in Maine. I know that the wonderful time you spend in the mountains will fly by and spring will arrive amazingly fast.

  • We’ve had an exceptionally mild fall at home, too – Number 1 son, who is watcing the house while we’re away, said it was 60F yesterday! All those beds I weeded before I left will need another round by the time I get home…and I’m kicing myself for not planting some spinach.
    Oh, well…how was I to know?
    Happy packing, and travel safe!

    • the weather is certainly playing tricks on us. In fear of coming home to knee high weeds I’ve covered the beds with weed suppressant. And oh ah, the packing……

  • We, too, have had a mild Autumn, thus far — and I hesitate to say even that for fear that I may draw the attention of the weather gods. Last year, at this time, everything was snow-covered and we didn’t see the land again until January! Funny how I dread seeing snow around here but how much I would love to spend a Winter in the Alps.

  • Very much enjoyed the sharing of your current garden adventures in preparation for your trip. It has been in the high 60’s here with a a warm wind. What we Californian’s refer to as “earthquake weather”. Expecting 70 today, I will need to water my potted plants if this trend continues!

  • I’m sure the allotment will be mostly dormant anyway during winter, and this winter you’re going to play in the snow! We’re all looking forward to seeing white photos! (Especially if we get our anticipated hot Sydney summer!). Have a wonderful time! 🙂

    • Hi Misk, we tend to escape most of the worst frosts as the proximity to the sea sorts that out, but mid Sussex is a beautiful place to be – winter or summer

  • It’s a toss up isn’t it between the pleasures of digging and the pleasures of seeing the layers of organic matter breaking down to become the soil. I’m waiting eagerly for my compost to mature so I can spread that around.

    • You know it! I’m going back up there to finish off a bed with all sorts of newspapers, leaves, shredded paper, grass clippings and manure, it seems to really work. And there’s nothing more satisfying than using home grown compost 🙂

    • Hey there yourself and thank you! It’s a grey cold November day, dark at 4, so you’ve brought some much needed sunshine to this part of the world 🙂 Right I’m off to the Farmy……. Moooooo…… C

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