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December 20, 2023
Starting 2024, what changes?

Memories of 2023, indeed any year just gone, are delightfully or painfully present. Enough to influence garden decisions for the coming year.
Some of my learnings are that I could chop the wood for composting more, avoid snails and Allium leaf miner somehow, harvest fruits sooner before overripe, sow peas earlier and carrots later.

However, beware over-reacting to the peculiarities of the year most fresh in memory. Its weather above all, because there is one thing for sure, the weather will be different in every season. Most things stay the same - for example see my solstice tour on YouTube, showing the quick bed prep with no dig. That is constant every year, except for variations in the compost, see below.

The main image is Castelfranco chicory in the small garden here. Sown early July, planted after cucumbers.

Vegetable harvests and from store at winter solstice, Homeacres no dig garden
Vegetable harvests and from store at winter solstice. It's been a bountiful year here.

Winter composting and mulching

There are so many ways to make great compost, and it's certain that you do not have to get the heap hot for it to succeed. The process just takes longer when it's cooler. And it's less bacterial, more fungal ,often resulting in higher quality compost.
We just made a video about composting options through all seasons, while concentrating on winter.

Winter heap still warm because we have added so much new material,
Winter heap still warm because we have added so much new material, even though it's now more brown than normal
We made a video about composting in winter and I unscrewed the front boards to show the profile, started six weeks ago
We made a video about composting in winter and I unscrewed the front boards to show the profile, of this current heap started six weeks earlier

No dig bed prep - all beds are now mulched or covered with about 3cm compost, and paths with old woodchip same depth
All beds are now mulched or covered with about 3cm compost, and paths with old woodchip same depth. that is it for winter prep

A less common compost

Just the colour is so different, from the compost toilet. This year it grew amazing squash with just 8 shovelfuls per the bed you see in the photo below, 2 x 1.2m or 6.5 x 4ft..
Clearly this compost enlivens the soil a lot!

Trialling 18 month old compost from the shed toilet, a healthy light colourt from fungal decomposition
Trialling 18 month old compost from the shed toilet, a healthy light colourt from fungal decomposition, see text below

Allium leaf miner

Phytomyza gymnostoma This horrible pest is new here, in such quantity. We saw a few last year, but this year about half of my leeks are now on the compost heap!

I share more information in this short video. I know that many of you are suffering it and have tried many protective measures, there are options for sure, just not easy.

Typical damage to leek from Allium leaf miner, so you keep removing the outer eaten leaves
Typical damage to leek from Allium leaf miner, so you keep removing the outer eaten leaves
After peeling and this was mercifully quite intact, because any are eaten almost through to the middle esp.small ones
After peeling and this was mercifully quite intact, because any are eaten almost through to the middle esp.small ones

Trials results 2023, just in

See the two pages with new graphs, for harvest comparisons this year. Always new learning and surprises, like a big drop in output from the strip with forked soil.

In the dig / no dig two bed comparison, once again we gathered more food for less work, from no dig. With the same amount of compost on each bed.

Notice how much food is coming from one bed of 7.5 m² . Over 100kg / 220lb every year.

Trial beds harvests, most years the first harvests are weaker on the dig bed, perhaps because its soil is recovering
Most years the first harvests are weaker on the dig bed, perhaps because its soil is still recovering
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