Winter is the ideal time for mulching , making the most of some physical work during the shorter days when the beds are mostly clear. Ideally, I have all of the outdoor mulching finished by the end of January, but of course gardening doesn’t always go according to plan!
Fortunately no dig gardening is a very versatile method, so the later-than-planned mulch of the kitchen garden at Roth Bar and Grill has not caused any problems. The 10 large beds and 3 new small ones needed a lot of topping up, but this did not worry the overwintered plants in the beds, here after the mulching:
A sufficient quantity of well rotted manure wasn’t available, so we ordered spent mushroom compost from a local supplier. It is extraordinary how much 10 tonnes of mushroom compost is, much more volume than the equivalent of weight of manure.! The delivery driver thoughtfully tipped it out in two piles, to make the mulching a bit easier. I’ll add homemade comfrey and nettle feed and possibly some rock dust to the beds later in April, for extra fertility and oomph.
Mulching commenced on a chilly Valentine’s Day (so romantic!) and gradually over the next few weeks, around other work commitments and weather, including Storm Doris, I wheelbarrowed tonnes of compost onto these beds. Each bed needed about 14 wheelbarrow loads.
This is the first bed; you can see how much depth these four needed – and the other 6 required an even deeper mulch of at least 6 inches all over to fill the beds! The emerging garlic in the foreground didn’t mind the mulch and has now grown strongly through the compost.
Working adjacent to the car park of a busy gallery and restaurant is quite a different experience to the other kitchen gardens I have run. Everyone has to pass through the garden to enter, so I get a lot of comments and questions. People share their growing experiences and frequently asked for advice.
It’s lovely seeing the surprise on the faces of the visitors, in particular the responses of children who whoop and run into the yard, when they see this installation by Djordje Ozbolt:
By Thursday night I could feel muscles I didn’t know existed!
Usually I try to mulch for just a couple of hours or so at a time, but feeling the need to finish the beds last week in readiness for the new plantings, I did a couple of full days. Charles kindly helped on Thursday morning, so that I’d be finished by the evening as the next few days were so busy: picking salad at Homeacres on Friday and then working together over the whole weekend, hosting two sell-out gardening courses.
At all times I was accompanied by the songs of wild birds preparing for spring nesting, in the hedgerows and crevices in the wall, alongside the illuminated installation by Martin Creed.
We extended the growing area beside the young apple trees, putting cardboard from the restaurant on the weedy grass and topping with a thick layer of compost. Later in the spring we’ll be planting flowers in here, to increase the biodiversity in the area – varieties yet to be confirmed.
Now, I am mostly sowing and raising the plants for this garden at home, in my polytunnel and greenhouse, which is under 5 minutes drive away from the gallery.