Re­silient Grow­ing

Ex­tend­ing the grow­ing sea­son is sur­pris­ingly easy, what­ever the weather, ex­plains Kim Stod­dart

Country Smallholding - - Inside This -

With Charles Dowd­ing

Al­though early in the year is tra­di­tion­ally the best time to set up a poly­tun­nel or green­house, if you are con­sid­er­ing get­ting one I would rec­om­mend start­ing to think about it now. In 2018 we had snow on and off through­out Fe­bru­ary, March and, in some ar­eas, into April. I also know many peo­ple who have had to wait weeks to get their tun­nels set up in spring be­cause it is the most pop­u­lar time of the year and in­stall­ers are in­cred­i­bly busy, of­ten with long wait­ing lists in place.

Yet if you get in there at the end of the year, when the weather is still rel­a­tively cle­ment (and there­fore suit­able for poly­tun­nel in­stal­la­tion), you can miss the rush and have time to plan and pot­ter in your fan­tas­tic new space be­fore get­ting grow­ing with gusto come the New Year. This ap­plies whether you are hav­ing a stab at home in­stal­la­tion or get­ting some­one in to help. Whether you are plan­ning on an en­tirely new tun­nel, or re­cov­er­ing an ex­ist­ing one, it is also worth think­ing about do­ing so now be­cause there are still some crops that can be suc­cess­fully sown or planted in late Oc­to­ber/early Novem­ber un­der cover and over­win­tered for a use­ful head start on pro­duce come 2019.

Here are some of the best veg to plant soon: Broad beans and peas

Both of these will stand firm over win­ter as small seedlings when seed is sown now, giv­ing you early har­vests of de­li­cious pea pods and beans next spring.


Pick­ing baby car­rots in the dead of win­ter is a real treat that is per­fectly fea­si­ble if you get plant­ing seed this month. The re­sult­ing baby plants can also be left in the ground to fill and grow early in 2019, but I per­son­ally think that they are bet­ter en­joyed cooked whole when they are small, maybe sautéed in a lit­tle but­ter and thyme for a whole­some grow-your-own re­ward.

Win­ter let­tuce and greens

It may seem too late, but if the weather is mild then do get sow­ing. Win­ter let­tuce and greens can al­ways be pro­tected with a cov­er­ing of fleece if needed. The pick and come again va­ri­eties, such as mizuna and mi­buna, clay­to­nia and win­ter cress, are hardy, while ori­en­tal bras­si­cas are also nice to grow dur­ing the darker months of the year. You can al­ways use a prop­a­ga­tor to get them started be­fore plant­ing seedlings out in late Oc­to­ber/early Novem­ber.

Onions and gar­lic

Al­though you might think that these would be bet­ter off sown out­side, I would rec­om­mend plant­ing gar­lic cloves and onion sets in your tun­nel as well, as they are good for cleans­ing the ground and, in the case of gar­lic, help­ing to de­ter mice from tak­ing up win­ter res­i­dence. As I use a mixed plant­ing sys­tem, these are placed in and around my other over­win­tered pro­duce.

Kim Stod­dart teaches a range of re­silient grow-your-own cour­ses from her small­hold­ing in beau­ti­ful Ceredi­gion fo­cused around poly­tun­nel grow­ing and cli­mate change gar­den­ing. Visit: www. green­rock­et­; tel: 07796 677178.

Plant gar­lic cloves and onion sets in your tun­nel. They are good for cleans­ing the ground

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