Our winter salad seeds have all germinated in their gutters. Since you were here Tony and I have also planted a couple of trays of pea shoots. All these can go into your kitchen garden now. But first we need to build some shelter. We need protection primarily from bird damage. Pigeons especially are partial to a nice sweet juicy salad leaf and may also find broad beans and peas planted shallowly in the ground. To keep them off we are going to build a cloche.

25mm MDPE pipeThere are plenty of bits on the market for cloches. For those with  some funds there are ready made pop up cloches. You can also buy cloches hoops in iron/steel and, more cheaply, bamboo. For balcony troughs you can also improvise with wire hoops. We going to use all of these methods but you can also build hoops out of 25mm MDPE water pipe located on short stout lengths of bamboo driven about 25cm into the soil. You can see the principle in one of our fruit beds – visible from the kitchen garden.

Once you’be built the framework you need to cover this with garden fleece (in the winter). In the spring this will be replaced with netting. Make sure no ingenious pigeons can get in… We’ll be planting out the seedlings in the finished cloches and we’ll also be direct sowing early peas Douce Provence and broad beans ‘Aquadulce Claudia’ . We’re not hoping for a lot of top growth in the peas and beans (as well as garlic) over the winter – just good root development and an early start. We’ll also be making a final succession sowing of all our winter leaves: Salad Rocket ‘Serrata’Best Winter Lettuces MixMustard ‘Red Giant’Mizuna, and Autumn and Winter Salad Leaf Mix.

Now that we’re planting out we need to understand just how much sun each part of our bed gets. The winter salad leaves and the broad beans can tolerate a goodly amount of shade. Plant the peas in the sunnier part of your bed. Leave space for the brassicas we’ll be planting in spring and the tomatoes we’ll plant out in May

Next year in November you’ll also be harvesting kale, cabbage, chard and beets, beetroot, turnips and perhaps celeriac, But we didn’t start early enough this year for that. But in December we’re going to be looking at ways of storing and preserving your harvests. Finally there is some work needed in the walled garden with spring bulbs to plant out. Next month we’re going to be looking at contrasting approaches to over-wintering with the Hot! border cut down and mulched but the Oudolf border left to overwinter with seed heads attached.