I always thought of January as a another month in the gardening year where nothing is really done; everything’s tidy and organised (in theory), it’s not time to start planting, and nothing much is growing. Maybe a few of the earliest spring bulbs start coming up towards the end of the month. How wrong was I?
Ok, it’s a weird year so things are flowering and growing when they shouldn’t be, or at least, when they normally don’t, but I checked on my spreadsheet/seed chart that I made because I got fed up of peering at seed packets all the time, and several things say they should/can be planted now; onions, peas, lettuce, tomato, various flowers. Seed potatoes are in the garden centres, and some of them are sprouting already. I know the planting times on seed packets are guidelines really – it depends on where you live in the country, and what the weather’s like that year, but still.
So, I planted my first seeds of the year a couple of weeks ago!
Just a few of each variety of veg that had January as a planting time. After all, I’ve never planted this early before but I figure it’s worth giving it a go to see if it’s worth it! So now I have two covered trays of pots sat in greenhouse, and I’m trying to peer out the house windows to see if they’re doing anything yet so I don’t have to go outside. I can’t seem to help checking each day – I’m such a kid! Have you noticed the temperature drop though?! Or now the rain? Anyway, nothing’s moving yet, which I suppose they wouldn’t be because it’s only been a couple of weeks.
This also hopefully means that I’ll manage to do proper successive planting this year – planting one load of peas, then a few weeks later planting a second lot, and so on, so I should end up with a steady, even crop rather than a whole load all at once. If it works. If it doesn’t (as I’ve heard some people say happened to them) I’ll still end up with all the plants cropping at the same time!
My lettuces and salad leaves inside don’t seem to be doing so well. Don’t know if it’s the drop in temperature, or the lower light levels. Because that’s the thing: most people think of the temperature being the factor stopping plants growing in the winter, but it’s lack of light as well. After all, no light, no photosynthesis, no nutrients for the plant. Or less anyway.
I used up the last of the fresh apples the other week, and it was weird, they almost had no flavour whatsoever. I didn’t know they could change so much. We still have frozen stuff and bottled though, so still plenty to last until the next crop. Which reminds me, I really have to check what’s in the freezer, because all sorts of fruit and veg got frozen and stuffed in there, but then moved around, and forgotten, so now I have no idea what’s left!
That’s the good/bad thing about gardening like this – having what’s termed a ‘high-maintenance’ garden I suppose – is that there’s things to do most of the year, and you get to start again each year; to decide what seeds to sow, where you’re going to plant out what, waiting to see what survived and where you need to fill in if something died, or if you decide to take it out because it didn’t quite work there. And that’s good because it means the garden’s always changing and needing work, but also can be bad because if you leave things they tend to get out of hand or jobs pile up. Then again, if I could stand there one year and say, ‘look, the garden’s finished, it just needs a bit of pruning each year’, I’d have to find something else to fill that time I spend planting and digging and picking and moving and- and I’d probably end up planning something new to do with the garden instead.
If something’s not changing and evolving, it’s not really alive.