Beany Babies

January is such a bleak and dreary month, it also happens to be the month of our birthdays. Oh I do envy the summer-born, the endless possibilities for outdoor celebrations. The ground is sodden in our garden at the moment, it’s bitterly cold too – no garden birthday parties for us.

I do try my hardest to stay off the squelchy garden paths but I’m weak, I love to mooch around the garden prodding and poking for signs of life. I took a quick peek at the raised beds, trying to be as light-footed as possible.

Snug under the tunnel cloches the first seeds of the new growing year are up, six rows with two rows per tunnel of baby broad beans. I find using tunnel cloches so useful for overwintering and keeping crops safe from pigeons and our chickens. Only a couple of seeds failed to set but that’s fine, I always sow more than necessary and thin out later if need be.

Caulk Wight garlic we planted in November is very noticeable now, with Red Duke just starting to push through. If they all come up we’ll have around 90 bulbs of garlic to harvest in summer.

I’m giddy with excitement for the growing year ahead. There are a couple of hurdles for me to get over first but I’m so looking forward to being outside, sowing seeds and drinking tea in the sunshine.

Overwintering Crops


After the 2009 autumn harvest nothing but bare earth was left in the veg beds, basically I didn’t plan that particular growing season very well. Apart from being bored from lack of things to do, I was disappointed that the vegetable garden was not being given the chance to be used to its full potential.

This year I have attempted to extend the growing season by growing crops that can be left in the ground during the winter months until needed, such as Leek and Parsnip. I will also try autumn /winter sowing of peas, autumn sowing of Broad Beans as well as overwintering onions and garlic. I have never used mini polytunnels to grow more tender crops during the colder months, perhaps this is something I could also try? Any ideas?

So, what will be grown in the garden smallholding to hopefully see me through the winter months of gloom?

Leeks. Ready for use now but I shall resist the urge to gobble them all up in one swoop.

Parsnips. Probably big enough to lift now but I want them to get a frosting to sweeten. They shall be left in the ground till needed.

Purple Sprouting Broccoli? No, I don’t because my first attempt was a disaster and I was too lazy to sow again on time, gaaaah!

Overwintering onions. Sets, all ready to be planted.

Peas. Autumn/winter sowing variety, never grown these before so I’m looking forward to the challenge.

Broad Bean. I have never done an autumn sowing of Broad Bean before, normally I opt for early spring. I’m not a fan of Broad Beans usually but hey if there is a sniff of an extra early season crop then it’s got to be worth a bash.

Garlic. I plan to plant garlic towards the end of October.

Swede. Disaster.  I did not give them enough room and powdery mildew claimed the lot. I shall put this one down as experience.

What are you currently growing or plan to grow for winter and early spring crops?