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Prepping Your Garden Space Early
I am very interested in hugelkultur. I plan to try it. In areas with limited water it is supposed to remain lush.
Thanks @optimist45 i read the article, until i scrolled down to look at the pics and vids i had the impression they were a lot smaller,some are enormous! They were popular at the inception of Permaculture.  We put some in about 12 years ago and they have shrunk down considerably, nothing as big as hugelkulture beds though.

Now i know what to do with all the left over brush after we have cut wood for burning, we often use it to stabilise short bits of river bank, this is especially good for willow.

Poplar trees are so fast growing here we often cut them down, and they are a useless wood for log burning, so maybe some enormous hugelkulture beds are in order.  They would make a fantastic defense system as well, any invading zombies would have to drive even a tank around those!!

They are more like the original swales in Permaculture used to capture water run off and improve the forest garden.  There is a thread on Permaculture, maybe we should take this there?

My raised beds are more like this:
I feel like I haven't had a break from gardening this year.  For the first time EVER, I was tending the garden, picking tomatoes, peppers and all sorts of other things on December 14th.   Now, on Feb 1st, I'm out there again planing onion sets, spinach, lettuce, kale, brocolli, cauliflower and beets.  I also planted about 12 fruit trees, grape vines, blackberry vines and put a blueberry plant in a big pot.  I've never tried blueberry since our soil is too alkaline, but hey, in a pot, who knows.

I have a bunch of citrus trees in pots and during the past two weeks I've picked over 40 oranges, 15 grapefruit, 40 lemons and too many limes to count.  So, I know in hard times, I can at least have some citrus fruits to eat.  Well, they are in the greenhouse, so if the power is out during a really cold night, they might get a little freeze burn, but I don't think they would freeze all the way in there.  I could also protect them somewhat with the white frost sheets that I bought last year.

Anyone else planting anything yet?
Yes i did a little planting today.  We have had three lovely warm days, even had the tortoises outside.  It was 21 degs C today, now it is raining, so the grass is already starting to grow.

I have several high raised beds that I grow early lettuce and rocket in, the wooden sides are 1 metre high and the soil inside is down from the top by 8 inches, so I guess, more by luck than judgement that this is giving the early crops I grow in here some shelter.  I have had a lump of old carpet on the raised bed so far this winter.  I removed this and only needed to fork lightly over with a small hand fork.  I added some 3 year old compost toilet manure, and toped off with a little sustainably cultured spagnum moss peat.  Then i sowed seeds straight into this quite thickly.  I always put in early salad, mizuna, rocket and a mix of salad leaves called mesclun here.  I finished off with a row of radishes.  We'll be eating this in 6 - 8 weeks.  I have three of these really high beds.  Last year i managed to grow carrots for the first time with some success. Until then i had been plagued with carrot root fly.  I read an article about the height these beasts fly and if you plant higher thian 2ft and cover the crop at all times with fleece then you can beat the root fly.  It works, and the high beds make it so much easier for me to thin crops out as I can sit down to do this.   Make more raised beds now.......  I only managed to plant out one as I am battling a chest iinfection at the moment but being out in the fresh air made me feel so much better.
I'm sorry you're feeling poorly, Lib.  Sometimes the ones that get into your chest are the hardest to shake.  Feel better soon.  I have raised beds but I'm going to have to make some more.  Every year I plant more and now I need somewhere to plant my potatoes.  Last year I tried them in giant pots, according to some instructions I found, but I didn't have much success. We eat a lot of potatoes here, so I'd like to know I can grow a lot of them.  I love rocket, but I can't get it here.  Mesclun is good too and I can find the seed if I look hard enough.   Looking forward to salad days in a few weeks!
Feel better soon, Lib!
Thanks for the good wishes you guys, much appreciated.  I was confined to inside today, the temps dropped from 21 degrees C of the last two days, down to 2deg C and horizontal snow and sleet.  As it was getting dark we had a spectacular thunder storm i n a blizzard, that's how much the temps changed.  Fortunately i had persuaded OH to throw a piece of old carpet over the raised bed i planted, the seeds will be fine.  

Potatoes, i grew one year in car tires, fill two tyres with soil and stack, plant two chitted seed potatoes as normal, as the plants grow add soil and another tire, keep going until the plants stop growing and have flowered.  When you are ready to harvest knock over the pile of tires and pick out the potatoes.  It was a good method for us for growing a few special varieties, in odd corners of the garden.  We now grow a large patch of two varieties that do well here.  The rows are pulled up heavily with soil and straw as the plants grow.  Hardly ever have to water.  Will be putting in earlies soon.

So back to armchair gardening for a whie.
Hi Lib, Hope you're feeling better. Another way to beat carrot fly is to interplant rows of carrots with rows of onions. There is something in the onions that deters the carrot fly. I was very sceptical until I tried it but it works for us.

I am sulking about gardening at the moment. Not an attractive trait I know but after almost total crop failure last year and having to live off our preps in the BOL I am having a real mental block about it. I know I need to get out there and do stuff but panicked that we will lose our crops again. 

I'm clearing out the polytunnel next week and will begin sowing in there, and I've got my chilli seeds by the range to try and keep them warm enough to germinate. That;s about all I've done so far!
Thanks @Dragonfly i am so sorry about your crop failures. I watched BBC Countryfile yesterday and saw how all the land is so saturated after what they were calling an 18 month winter.  It is going to take a big drought now to sort that out.  Thank goodness you have a polytunnel, can you keep this drained?

You could plan more raised beds and integrate a drainage system for your own veg plot crops but for your commercial crops i have no suggestion if you cannot even get onto the land with a tractor.  

You are in my thoughts.
@Libellula Our polytunnel has a stream running through what used to be the path down the middle of it but other than that is relatively ok. We have raised beds and staging in there and the tunnel has kept us going with food. At the moment we have gale force winds and snow/hail, so I am spending the day perusing a seed catalog and making paper pots. A friend who has a seed company is letting me have loads of very out of date seeds found in the back of their store room as we can't afford to restock and are very low on some things. The germination rates are much lower but we are thrilled because the quantity they are giving us means we won't have to buy more in. 

I spent a couple of days digging a pond in the snow a few weeks ago and that seems to be paying off for one corner of the field, but a natural spring has appeared right in the middle of our veggie patch with all the rain we've had. I'm thinking I should bottle it and make my fortune selling spring water instead lol :biggrin:

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