Sunday, 21 November 2010

Not so Hungry during this Gap!

There is a time during the growing year when the range of crops to be harvested is at it's lowest.
It usually begins when the cold weather hits hardest and crop growth slows to a halt. The availability or not of crops to eat has brought about the highly appropriate name for this lean period.
If you have been successful with overwintered crops such as cabbages and sprouts, Kale will be easy and will fill the gap between the last of the brassicas and the first early broad beans.
The period is normally late winter, just before spring starts warming the soil again, so early in the new year.
There are ways of trying to avoid or lessen the effect of this shortage, by storing veg such as potatoes and tap root vegetables such as carrots and parsnips and by using protection in the form of cloches or greenhouses. Even just a polythene sheet over the soil can help raise the temperature by 1-2 degrees. This will bring sowing time forward by up to a week or more if the sun is strong and the wind is low. Late sowing of what are termed early varieties can help stretch things out too. Early, in food growing just means quicker to harvest, a shorter growing period. This enables a gardener to sow a little later than suggested on the pack as the variety will come to fruition in less time.
Raised beds, by being above the level of ground frosts and able to drain easily, can last a little longer against cold weather than traditional rows. Placement needs careful consideration too. The sun moves differently during the winter and late autumn months so maximising it is vital.
The other side of the Hungry Gap is finding tasty recipes that use the only crops available or stored.

So , guess where the next blog is going?

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