The main garden job this month is mulching/covering any spare beds with compost, and any pathways with a little woodchip. Compost can be even half decomposed, it will have time to break down further through winter and the first will break up lumps.
In the main photo, you are seeing homemade compost that is only four months old. My heaps reach 70°C/158°F, which speeds decomposition. It also makes the compost darker in colour, compared to the brown compost you see from lower temperatures ,and more woody materials such as decomposed woodchip.
Harvests and store
Before mulching, you may have harvests to take. We have pulled all beetroot and celeriac, also radicchios and Chinese cabbage, now endives too! This weekend is forecast -7C here.
in the end it was -5C twice, and now on 12th December is much milder, 12C by day.
Trial Results 2023
The two bed trial has just finished it's 11th year of cropping. The increase of harvests through no dig is this year 20%, compared to an average of 12% from 2013 to 2022.
Both beds receive the same amount of compost, and same plantings.
From now until March, it's too cold for new sowings to germinate reliably. Yet I still see the crazy advice to sow cover crops in winter. It depresses me to think of people wasting seeds! The compost mulch of no dig is doing a great job of covering soil and feeding soil organisms.
If you have pea or broad bean transplants (not seed!), they can still go in. Preferably with a cover on top to hold a little warmth and give wind protection. Next week 4th December I plan to transplant broad / fava beans in the trial beds. Today 1st December I am digging the dig bed, incoporating compost from the Daleks, while Adam spreads the same amount of compost on the no dig bed.
photo 5th December
The small garden in contrast has almost no empty soil:
Covers in Winter
I use mesh or thermacrop covers, more than fleece which is easily ripped by any high wind in winter.
The brassicas above have mesh over, it filters the wind so increases warmth a little in any sun. Likewise the thermacrop over broad beans below, it's tough and hepls the plants to survive at least.
Potting compost for 2024
Yes it's time to think ahead. Maybe put some of your best homemade compost under cover, so it will be dry enough by late winter to pass through a sieve and add to other ingredients for a potting compost. See this video for ideas.
We ran a trial in November of different composts for broad beans. Best germination and most even growth was from Pete's Pete Free, even better than my own compost. Moorland Gold was good but less good, thanks to it being so dense for seed germination. Adding a little perlite can help.
We have lost a lot of leek harvest to Allium leaf miner. Next year it looks like I shall need to cover leek transplants with mesh, from about mid August.
Before that, I'm worried about garlic and onions!
1st December Trial beds so different to prepare