What You Can Grow and Eat in Winter - A Mini Tour of Patrick Whitefield's Permaculture Garden

Patrick Whitefield
Saturday, 8th December 2012

Patrick provides us with a little permaculture garden inspiration, even in the darkest winter months.

Pottering in the garden - I love it. Earlier this week, before the rain started, I was out there pottering away.

I've had this steel-framed window hanging around for ages with the idea of making a cold frame out of it. But it's really too heavy for a cold frame, because you need to lift the lid quite often to get at the plants inside or give ventilation, and it's heavy. So I decided just to lean it against the south facing wall and plant some things behind it. It won't be so effective as a proper cold frame but it only took moments to make and opening it is much easier. 

Behind it I planted things which had self-seeded elsewhere in the garden: Italian meadow rocket, lamb's lettuce and winter purslane. The latter two will be ready by spring while the rocket will go on to make the summer crop. It really appreciates the extra warmth and dryness at the base of the wall, though the glass may be too much for it in summer. 

This is the mother plant, in June. It's a perennial form of rocket. It yielded well for four years then died and left me four daughters. 

Before I did that I had to clear away what had been there before, which was a patch of tree onions. These are perennial salad onions and they actually do better in a rather shady place, as the shade discourages them from flowering and keeps the leaves young and juicy. I replanted them beside the Welsh onions, which are similar. Both lots of plants are a bit thin at the moment as they're only one year old and I've been picking them up to now. But in the spring they'll bunch up and fill this space.

This is another shady patch. I've had raspberries in there for years and they've never done anything much so I took them out and will grow salads there next year - lettuce, annual rocket, endive and so on. It's become very weedy over the years and I'm trying to get the perennial weeds out without too much disturbance to the soil. There's no point in putting down a weed-killing mulch at this time of year as it only really works when the weeds are trying to grow. 

These are some sticks we trimmed off the windbreak in the front garden back in the early summer. I've been seasoning them in the same corner of the garden. Now they're dry and ready for me to store in the shed for use in my Kelly kettle, which I use every morning to boil the water for my tea. 

In season in the garden at the moment: a whole range of salads, swiss chard, jersey walking stick kale & leeks; ripe in store: butternut squash and Kidd's orange red apples. 

Patrick Whitefield is the author of The Earth Care Manual, Permaculture in a Nutshell and How to Make a Forest Garden.

Patrick also runs a host of courses including Permaculture Design, Sustainable Land Use and Reading the Landscape. For more information or to book a course, please click here!

jennynazak |
Wed, 05/12/2012 - 00:17
Great tips and photos, Patrick! By the way, I really like your Permaculture in a Nutshell book - great work.