Things to do in the garden now

January

There are quite a few things that you can do in January, weather permitting of course. It may seem cold, and drab, and lifeless, but this is the time to start laying the foundations for the year ahead. I love the cold but sunny days on the rare occasion we get them.

Wildlife

One thing that is really important is to feed the birds. I love watching the birds at the feeder, knowing they have had a decent feed today. It’s tough out there, give them a hand. You’ll reap the rewards in the summer, and they will pick off pesky insects that you don’t need in the garden.

Plants and bulbs

It’s not too late to plant some spring bulbs. Tulips will be happy being planted now. Daffodils may be a bit more reluctant to flower this year, but still worth giving it a go. Bulbs don’t like being out of the ground for too long so my advice is to get them in by the end of the month at the very latest. A few pots of spring flowers will brighten any space, no matter how small.

For instant impact, invest in some hardy pansies or violas, they flower through winter. They also have cheerful little faces. I like to have a couple of pots with these in, near the house. They cheer me up no end, and make the garden feel alive.

Vegetables

If you have some space to grow vegetables, and have never done it before, I highly recommend giving it a go. Some of the easiest vegetables to grow are peas, beans, carrots, potatoes, onions and lettuce. You can give peas an early start by covering the area where you want to plant them with some horticultural fleece, or even black bin liners, to warm the soil. Do this for a couple of weeks and then you can sow the seeds directly where they will grow. They may be slow to start but they are vigorous!

You could even grow them in pots, for example a pot that you see at the supermarket that flowers are displayed in. These are often just thrown away. Just ask if you can have some for free, you never know. Punch some holes in the bottom for drainage, fill with multipurpose compost and leave in a sunny spot in the garden, covered with fleece a bin bag. After a couple of weeks sow in the pot for a nice early crop. You will never believe just how good fresh picked peas taste!

It’s also a good time to start buying seed for anything else you want to grow. This is by far the cheapest way to grow your own, and I recommend only growing what you like to eat, starting with some easy vegetables like those mentioned before. There are plenty more easy vegetables but the ones I mentioned are probably the best ones for a novice.

What else am I doing in January?

I am keeping an eye on the weather. This year it has been very mild, and if we do have a very cold snap I may give the onions and garlic a little protection.

I planted these in a raised bed in October, to give me a nice early crop. I can then use the space for a second crop of fast growing vegetables like peas, or beans. Although they are hardy, I wouldn’t want to lose them if we have a “Beast from the East” again.

I will be topping up my remaining three raised beds and covering them to warm the soil a little. February to April are generally the busiest months for sowing, so I want to be ready.

I will also resist looking at any more seed catalogues, I have more than 100 packets, and think that is plenty for now!

What will you be doing in January in the garden, tell me!

Potatoes, potatoes

I grow potatoes, I have done for about three years now. This time of year is perfect for deciding which ones to grow. I just love potatoes fresh out of the earth!

There are many varieties out there, and it can be confusing to say the least. It doesn’t have to be, with just a little knowledge.

What do I need?

Having said that, potatoes are really, really easy to grow. If you are short on space you can grow them in a bucket, or an empty compost bag. As long as your chosen container has drainage holes, they will grow.

All you need apart from the container is fresh multipurpose compost. Then you need a fertiliser such as fish, blood and bone or chicken manure pellets. And water, and of course time.

What variety to buy?

There are a couple of things to bear in mind. First of all decide whether you want to grow salad, otherwise known as early potatoes. Some examples are Charlotte, or Swift. Alternatively try main crop, which are the ones you would buy for perfect roast potatoes. Popular varieties are Rooster, King Edward, Desiree, etc. etc.

Early potatoes are waxy and good for boiling and salads, as a general rule. Main crop are floury and are best for roasting and baking.

However there are varying degrees of each and some start waxy and become floury if left to grow on for example.

There are many reputable companies selling seed potatoes. Here are some I have used myself:

https://www.jbaseedpotatoes.co.uk/

https://www.thompson-morgan.com/vegetables/potatoes

https://www.vanmeuwen.com/fruit-and-vegetables/vegetables/potatoes

https://www.suttons.co.uk/Gardening/Potatoes+Onions+Garlic/Seed+Potatoes/

What next?

Browse the potatoes and see what will work for you. Try to choose varieties with good overall disease resistance. I am sure that you want to enjoy the growing process, rather than worry about constantly protecting your crop.

After that, wait for the next instalment. I will cover what to do with your potatoes when you receive them.

Here is my very small but perfectly formed first harvest!

Small potatoes!

Are you new to growing potatoes? What questions do you have?

Garden update Monday 14 January

A knock on the door rudely awoke me early this morning. It was a delivery, I was confused. I had no idea what it could be, had I been sleep shopping?

Luckily, sleep shopping it was not. It turned out to be a bulk delivery of bird food. I had bought 25 kilos of sunflower hearts, 150 net free fat balls and 3 kilos of meal worm flavour suet pellets, yum!

Later in the morning, the delivery was taken down to my little shed, where all my bird food supplies are kept. Then, I realised just how pleasant it was outside today, a balmy 9 Centigrade (48 Fahrenheit in old money).

When suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I see a little glint of orange in the pale winter sun. What on earth could be so bright at this time of the year? Well, it was this:

A beautiful, perfect calendula, in January! What a delight nature is sometimes.

And so to the jobs

Back to the real reason for the post, a garden update. Not a lot to report, however the onions and garlic are still growing well. Slow growth would be the norm, but they are well on their way. The mild winter, so far, has helped. I am growing white onions and soft neck garlic, autumn plantings for both.

rhdr

I’ve had to put a piece of old fencing over the raised bed to stop the local cats and other wildlife using the bed for a toilet/digging patch. I used just a few clothes pegs and sticks to keep it in place.

It was so nice, just for a few minutes, to feel the sun on my face. I also tidied up some pots, removing all the dead foliage. It is amazing how doing just a few minutes on a small project can made you feel better.

How do you find little lifts in your day?

Happy New Year! Happy New Blog!

Happy New Year

So, having thought about this for rather more time that I will admit to, I decided to finally put fingers to keyboard. It all started, just a couple of years ago. I found that gardening was more than just bunging a few bedding plants in pots. A bit more than watering them when I remembered. I realised that it actually helped me in so, so many ways. For example, from growing some potatoes in pots as an experiment, to designing and building a fully fledged mini garden allotment. Also, and very importantly, to giving time for my poor overworked brain to rest and recuperate after a series of highly stressful life events.

You can imagine that this came as a bit of a shock to me, and my family. Having been pretty much a lifetime snubber of anything remotely green and leafy, it was a real about turn. And it came at the right time, really really at the right time. Just when I needed something else, to calm the stressed mind. To focus on something different, to nurture, and to reap the rewards of my efforts.

So, I’d like to share the journey with you, both what has gone before and what is to come. Gentle gardening and a little crafting, for the body and mind!

Glad to have you as company 🙂