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A new plot - when to start?

I have been sorting out my overgrown garden after moving to my house in London recently-ish.  I have designated several beds for planting vegetables having cleared away a lot of weeds and shrubs. The garden seems like it has been neglected for quite a long time.  I am now faced with several beds of beautiful freshly dug soil but I have a conundrum.  Do I start with some overwintering veg like onions/spinach or mulch with well rotted manure and start planting in the spring? Or some sort of compromise like planting in the bed and mulching around the plants? I am keen to start but not sure how much I need to condition the soil first and I want to get the best out of the garden.

Any advice would be much appreciated!

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  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 5,568

    No time like the present. I'd mulch all the beds except ones where you're going to plant root veg.

    If the soil is very poor you could dig in a bit of compost or a general fertiliser, such as seaweed extract, to the root bed  but if it's decent looking then it probably doesn't need it. Get some garlic/onions/winter salads going in the root bed - possibly some of those short round carrots that'll crop before winter.

    For the others you could leave them to 'cook' under the mulch for the winter or you could buy some plug plants and get going by planting them through the mulch, if you chose your varieties carefully and as long as the manure is well rotted. If you mulch first and then plant the plugs you'll be digging in the mulch immediately around the plants as a consequence of planting, so there's less risk of the manure 'burning' the soft growth than if you plant the plugs and then mulch. Most seeds would need to be started in modules rather than sowing direct in the mulchy bits, but you could, for example, get some broad beans and peas started in the next few weeks to crop early next spring, as long as you give them some protection for pigeons and mice.

    Last edited: 19 September 2017 23:07:59

    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • Hi raisingirl

    That's really helpful thank you!  I dismantled a very oversized compost heap/dumping area yesterday and actually there was a lot of beautiful compost at the bottom (probably there for years...) so have used this as mulch and will get started on winter veg right away!

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