January Highlights

January is usually a variable month in my part of the world.

Sometimes it can feel like the true winter it really is, with continuous frosts and snowy spells. Other times it feels more like a dreary November: wet and windy and grey.

Well this year it’s mostly been the latter, but there have been one or two cold spells dipping to around -4°C and storm after storm after storm. Storm Isha ripped the door off my greenhouse and pulled the back gate off one of its hinges, so it was pretty windy! However, the wheelie bin stayed upright and an empty washing-up bowl on my outside table barely moved an inch. Shelter is everything!

Despite this, there have been a few bright days and the lighter evenings have been really noticeable. Robins, dunnocks and great tits are singing and a few tentative buds are starting to open.

Not much has been happening in the garden. Both it and I are in ‘rest mode’. I have continued to harvest kale, cabbage leaves and salad greens including corn salad, the odd bit of chard, salad burnet, sorrel and dandelion. The hedge has been trimmed to bring down the height a bit and encourage thicker growth, and I’ve done a little bit of weeding and pruning. I’m keen to leave a lot of the old stems and growth around for overwintering wildlife so am restraining my tidier instincts until the spring. The real stars of the garden are the winter box and Daphne bushes, whose incredible scent carries around the garden. The clematis (Clematis tangutica) looked jolly with its wispy seedheads but I have now cut that back as it is a Type 3 clematis and will flower from new growth. The rhubarb is just popping up, as are two little sprouts of garlic.

The allotment is also quiet. More weeding has been done and the future squash bed (currently all grass) has been covered. I did attempt to felt a sufficient area of woolen mulch mats to cover it but I gave up (for now). The rhubarb there is much more established and probably better cared for, so has multiple young shoots. Mum also picked me up some horse manure she spotted going at a farm and kindly brought some back for me (how many people’s mums would do that!?) so it needs spreading. Finally I’ve brought a supply of seed potatoes from the local nursery but will wait a bit longer before starting to chit them. The varieties are:

  • Duke of York (first early) x 4
  • Kestrel (2nd early, can leave in the ground) x 8
  • Pink fir apple (maincrop, salad) x 4
  • Sarpo mira (maincrop) x 4.

There’s still a bit more of January to go so as long as the weather holds out I’ll be hoping to get out there again and potter about so I’m ready for spring.


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