Gardening on the balcony

If you think winter is the season when there’s nothing to do in the garden, then think again! Whether you have a garden or just pots on a balcony, there are still a number of things that can be done at this time of year.

What can you do during the winter season in your garden?

Winter is the perfect season to start planning your work for the coming months, it is the perfect weather to start your “Gardening Journal” and to think about the tools you’ll need for a successful gardening season.

If you are keen to start the growing season, winter is the perfect time for planting spinach, lettuce, onion, garlic, leeks, cabbage, broad beans and peas. Garlic and spinach, in particular, don’t take up a lot of space so for those of you without a garden, try planting them in pots on the balcony or even on a window sill.

You can then enjoy planning all the delicious dishes you’ll be able to cook using your homegrown produce. Greenwich Pantry has some excellent workshops on vegan cooking, batch cooking, health eating and fermentation and preserving which could help you to learn how to make the best of everything you grow.

If you’re not quite ready to start planting, you can also spend some time planning your garden and ordering your seeds. There are so many interesting varieties out there, it’s worth having a look around to find the ones which will work best for you and your garden.

When growing vegetables, it’s important to think about where to put plants and which plants grow well together. This is where careful planning plays a part. Companion planting is a way of planning your garden to encourage beneficial, pollinating insects, control pests in a natural way and promote healthy plants. Did you know that onions and carrots love growing next to each other? However, don’t plant your tomatoes next to the cabbages – they do not get on well!

Winter means there’s a little less to do in the garden so it’s a great time of year to carry out some basic maintenance jobs that you never have time for when everything is in full bloom. Are you growing in raised beds? Check the condition of the wooden sides, do any need replacing or mending? It might be that you’ve wanted to put in raised beds for a while but haven’t got around to it. Well, now is the perfect opportunity! Are your gardening tools in good working order? Make sure they’re in good condition for the season to come.

Mulching your growing area is another task that can be done in winter. Mulching involves putting organic material around the base of plants or on beds you are planning on planting in. It protects and fertilises the soil, improving soil structure, and also helps prevent weed growth. Even if you’re growing in pots, it’s still worth mulching the soil. The best materials to use are biodegradable ones and include: leaf mould, garden compost, wood chip and well rotted manure.

This is also the perfect time of year to prune your wonderful apple tree. Pruning is really important to encourage a healthy tree and crop. Pruning lets you remove any damaged or diseased branches, establish the shape of the tree and allow more sunlight and air through the branches for the apples that will be ripening on them in summer.

What is the best advice for winter?

Enjoy some relaxation until the busy gardening season in Spring starts, and look forward to fresh ingredients to make delicious home cooked meals.

If you need cooking inspiration, or tips on how to use your fresh ingredients, you can always check out the cooking classes and workshops available at Greenwich Pantry!

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