I finally got round to a very important job in the forest garden – marking where everything is! So many species die down for the winter that it is impossible to remember where you put everything. In a finished forest garden (if there is such a thing) it might not matter, but winter and early spring are the best time for doing a bit of rearrangement and you don’t want to plant your king’s spear on top of your hostas.
The allotment seems very small compared to all the species that I want to try out, so I’m always trying to work out how to fit more in. I try to resist the temptation to plant everything too close together – it’s a recipe for spending the rest of your life cutting things back.
I generally use bamboo canes (using bamboo from the allotment) to mark plants, with a label attached to the cane rather than the plant. Labels attached to the plant get lost when the plant dies down and I find that labels stuck into the soil have a tendency to wander too.
Another job around this time of year is picking up as many fallen leaves as I can manage and using them to mulch the garden. The Aberdeen wind helpfully blows the leaves into great piles, sometimes right in front of my door, so all I need to do is go and scoop them into bags and take them down to the allotment. Forest garden ground layer plants are generally adapted to growing through a layer of leaves anyway, so I can’t think of a better mulch. It protects the soil over winter, helps to keep the weeds down and then starts to break down and feed the soil in time for spring. A few bags a year are put aside to mature into leaf mould for potting.