I wish you a healthy and productive gardening year.
Photo above is 2nd January 2023. In front is rye for grain.
It’s the quietest time, a chance for me to think website structure. Much as I love informing you with monthly blogs, I’ve decided to streamline them with my newsletter. This reaches a wider audience and contains much of the same information as in these updates. Going forwards, I am increasing the garden advice part of the newsletter.
Here is the newsletter I sent in early January. I shall write another one mid month and they are twice monthly.
On a gardening note, last year, I was sent two sacks of new potting compost to trial, from Hull in Yorkshire. It’s produced by a man my age called Pete and I tried it several times last summer and autumn, finding it really good. Pete has long experience, and I respect his conscientiousness, therefore I warmly recommend Pete’s peat free compost. It’s not cheap, but you get what you pay for, and when using my module trays with their small cell size, you need only 2 L of compost for 60 cells.
If you then multisow onions or beetroot in those cells, you have used 2 L of compost for over 200 plants. I transplant straight from the module trays without any potting on, that also saves time, compost and propagation space. However, do not sow anything yet! It’s too early.
I created this website in 2007, soon after bringing out my first book – see our new Books page for details of them all. Plus, I’ve written the monthly and sometimes twice monthly blogs/updates for 15 years. The site has grown in size and is ripe for reorganising.
In the early part of this year, the website will streamline and continue to hold a huge amount of information, in a more accessible form. There are pages hiding which I think are fascinating, and I hope you do as well, such as Seeds and Varieties which I updated recently. It’s to help you make productive choices when you buy your seeds.
The page Get Started is about first steps in no dig, and the Trials page has information about my comparisons between digging and no dig. Over 10 years, the no dig bed has produced 12% more food. In 2022 it grew 20% more, and the last time I saw such a big difference was in 2018, another very dry summer. Interesting! There is a three strip trial too, comparing the effect of forking soil, compared to no dig, 2022 results in shortly.
ORFC online conference details are here.
If you want to learn more in person, do check out my days of teaching here at Homeacres. And there’s lots going on in the shop with so many recent books. Very soon we shall add my children’s book which appears 19th of January. Meanwhile you can pre-order at Waterstones, and other online places!
Thank you for reading this, and I hope you continue to find my website useful in your gardening. And what do you make of this:
GARLIC IN ICELAND
I was delighted in August 2022 to meet here a couple from Iceland, who are having success with no dig. Thorunn has written about no dig for an Icelandic gardening magazine.
Difficulties arise from the Icelandic weather, and the 2022 summer was much colder than usual, such that the potato crops failed completely.
They recently expanded their area to grow garlic and Thorunn M Ólafsdóttir (in bottom photo) emailed yesterday with an update.
“We are in the west side of Iceland and using No Dig method and cover crop. I use the soil under the grass because of lack of soil in the area so we take the top of the grass and till it, put in nutrients, and make beds 1×5 m. We put thick cardboards in between the rows and put woodchips in the pathways and no more dig or tilling after that.
We have often very bad weather in the area, so we are using cover crop to stop the soil from blowing away and floating away. We used 8 types of seeds for the cover crop and it made a huge difference and makes a good cover for the winter. The temperature has gone to -20° for the past 3-4 days.
We have nearly 3000 garlic of various types to find out which works best in our zone.
Here are some pictures from our land where we are preparing and the first 23 beds.
We sowed cover crop in all the beds in late August and sow the garlic in between the rows in end of September to mid-November.”