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Winter wonderland

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Chris Howard Chris Howard | 18:30 UK time, Monday, 7 September 2009

So, Sara's blog has finished, but hopefully her gardening has not. The last picture fills me with hope that she will indeed keep up the effort. Her patch is looking great, and with her dreams of potatoes, we might hear more from her one day.

I am, once again, away, filming Green Balloon Club in the lovely (when it stops raining), Northern Ireland. So, I am not sure what the latest update on my balcony is. So, as I said I'd talk about winter gardening, and seems as we're hurtling towards that season at a rate of knots, now's a good time to tackle it.

I actually love winter, but for me the dark, the wet, and the wildness, makes it one of my favourite times of year. But, if you do long for spring, winter is a good time to prepare for it. Plant some bulbs that will be ready first thing next year - your local garden centre will have loads available right now.

Another good tip for the winter is to do nothing. Well, almost. A lot of vegetables will actually keep better if they are left in the ground until the frosts start. Things like potatoes, leeks, and parsnips should last until Christmas and what could be better than serving up your home-grown veg on Christmas day?

That doesn't go for everything though. If you've been growing things like onions, they should be harvested and hung up to keep them fresh.

Winter is also a great time for giving your soil a bit of TLC, like adding compost and good old manure. A good dig over the ground can help to get air into the soil as well.

Of course, if you do want to keep growing, there's one classic winter veg you can put in now - garlic, and one that will be ready very soon - the delightful and delicious, Brussels sprout! I don't care what you say about them, I love them. So, if you're lucky enough to be growing some and don't want them, then send them to me!

Garlic can go in around October or November time, for a spring harvest, and the results are great. I was snacking on some wild garlic yesterday, and although it didn't win me any friends, I do love it.

I'll be back next week, hopefully having tried some of those Nigel Slater recipes, for my last blog. Thanks for the squash stories, good to hear of some successes on that front. As far as suggestions for beefing them up go, I think Ann's "tea" idea is the best. So if you haven't tried it out, then do so. Otherwise, just keep those fingers crossed...


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