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January: a week of work and of waiting...

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Adamn Greathead
Rank attained: Hazel Tree
Rank attained: Hazel Tree

Joined: 12 Sep 2006
Posts: 44
Location: West Midlands

PostPosted: Sat Jan 27, 2007 6:45 pm    Post subject: January: a week of work and of waiting... Reply with quote

Lately, the news headlines have been aroused with concerns over global warming and its effects on our planet. And there is a band of people who have had to alter the way they live their lives, the way they work and the plan which they work alongside. These people are gardeners; naturally, hard-working gardeners like you and myself who have had to grit our teeth and change the way in which we garden. However, there is another option we can take: sit back and let nature take its course and be an observer rather than an interferer. No doubt, the shifting weather will have serious effects on the indigenous plants that surround our fields and flank our roads, similarly, foreign plants which we choose to grow in this climate will inevitably become adapt to the change meaning they will no longer be classed as 'unusual'. If summer performers like the dahlia decide to flower for ten months of the year as opposed to the normal 3-4 months, will they still be longed for, with great anticipation, by the great British public? If daffodils overtake the humble snowdrop as the first flower in a new year, will either of them still retain special memories of a white January?

The garden has never gone so long without a good firm frost in fact, we have only had, an average, a dozen hoar frosts so far and it is to be remembered that there are only a couple of months left in winter but these are two which promise to be the coldest. This morning the garden has been blanketed with a crisp frost. Cardoon seedheads (which I am glad I allowed to remain) dazzle the eye with their frosty fluffiness quite like the Miscanthus sinensis 'zebrinus' that races for the sexiest image in the borders. Even the wild primroses growing in the southern area of the mixed border spring from the frozen ground emitting a marvellous scent which is a match between drizzled honey and vanilla pods. This is a perfume that penetrates the cold air and becomes almost tangible in the low winter sun.

This week has shown the vegetable garden to be worth every penny. I have been allowed to plant a crop of shallots 'Red sun'- a new variety to me and an exciting one too. I planted them, accompanied by my trustworthy radio, into plug trays to establish a root run otherwise, if planted straight into the ground, would push back out creating even more work in an ever-busy schedule. My memory has a lot to answer for, therefore, I can only estimate that I planted 50 sets which should make for one row in the vegetable garden with a few spares to cover any losses. Also, this week I have managed to dig a bean trench and have filled it with some good manure. Not only did this help me to relieve myself of stress, it will also help the beans to retain valuable moisture in the potent summer heat.

Over the last three years the vegetable garden has acquired rather a utilitarian form, supplying the house with a stunning array of fresh fruit and vegetables. In fact, I think over these three years we have grown enough to feed the whole family- a very good thing and one which has, in recent times, been dismissed with a view of it proving too difficult. One thing to be taken into account is: good food will only come from good soil. Talking of good soil I have also prepared my onion bed this week. This annual task involves the gradual incorporation of well-rotted horse manure followed by a liberal dressing of wood ash from the plentiful amount of fires we make. Into this bed I shall be growing the renowned 'Kelsae' onion that, when watered efficiently, can reach 16lb or more without becoming bland. I urge you to try this variety as you don't have to grow for show to grow them because they do equally as well on the plate.

Something which I seem to have learnt this week is to take it steady and don't rush things. Work with nature, not against it. Learning the hard way, I lost a whole batch of seedlings because I sowed them too early after succumbing to the contagious anticipation that spring happens to bring. Needless to say the seedlings were of no use so onto the compost heap they went. (We put more or less everything onto the compost heaps in an act of desperation to fill them as quickly as possible) - so should you. Most seeds can be sown in next month and they, more often than not, benefit from this early sowing. Such seeds include celeriac, celery, aubergines, tomatoes, lobelia, geraniums, salvias, petunias and many, many more. February Brings with it a real buzz: a buzz that signals the oncoming months of spring and, unforgettably, the buzz of the first emerging bees which spread their banal buzzing throughout the hellebores and daffodils within an English spring garden aloft the surging blooms of crocus and the carpeting growth of primula denticulate.
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