Winter is down time in the Edible Garden. The frost tender crops have finished and the hardy winter vegetables growth has slowed right down. Our main tasks now are raking and collecting leaves and washing down the polytunnel, removing 18 months’ worth of grime to increase light transmission.
This time of year is also perfect for reflection and planning the growing season ahead. Have a think about where to grow your crops. You can grow fruit and vegetables anywhere, from herbs and salads on your windowsill, to rows of potatoes and cabbages on an allotment or community garden.
Planning the garden can seem like a daunting task, but it can make all the difference when it comes to getting on with the practical tasks next spring. Choose which crops you want to grow, think about things that you enjoy eating. Reassess last year’s design in light of successes and failures. Of course, you should be adventurous too and try new things. One of the benefits of growing your own is that you can grow things that are hard to find in shops such as asparagus peas, salsify or sorrel.
Consider the climate. We live in Scotland; there is no point in trying to grow pineapples unless you have a tropical greenhouse. But many things do grow well here; we have an ideal climate for leafy greens and brassicas such as kale and cabbages. Soft fruits thrive in the cool, damp conditions.
It is a good idea to start by drawing a simple sketch of your growing space. Then make up a calendar of all the vegetables you would like to grow. Include sowing and harvesting times. You can use the information on the calendar to mark out your plan with details of which vegetable you want to grow where.
If you are itching to get out into the fresh air you can do some preparation on the plots. Dig over any beds that need it and add organic matter and mulch. Cover bare soil with black plastic or fleece. This will help to warm the soil before early spring sowings.
• The Edible Gardening Project is based at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh