Happy New Gardening Year!

Snowdrop

No doubt December has been as hectic for you as it has been for me. It’s lucky that Christmas coincides with a quiet time in the garden and on the allotment!

The crispy cold late December days would have been the perfect time to work off some of my Christmas chocolate binge but the ground has been too frozen to dig – both at the allotment and in my new garden. Instead, I’ve had the chance to stand back and watch what’s going on.

I can see that at this time of year there’s little point going to the allotment much before 2pm to dig up the leeks on a frosty day. My plot will still be frozen. On the other hand, I’ve noticed that a couple of sheltered parts of my garden have stayed frost free. I can also see the tips of the bulbs planted by the previous owners appearing – useful to know when I’m planning planting for 2015.

My new garden has two water features – not something I’ve ever had in a garden before. Water-loving dogs and garden ponds are not necessarily a good mix! I’m beginning to realise how much we’ve missed. It’s been an unexpected joy to watch the birds bathing and drinking so close to the house while we’re sitting at the kitchen table.

One bird I didn’t expect to see was a heron. I’m hoping that the fish we’ve inherited from the previous owners are still lurking in the depths. It’s a small garden, surrounded by other houses. There’s hardly room for a heron to open its wings let alone to make a quick exit. Rather a risky place for it to try to fish you might think?

I went back to Watermans Allotments just before Christmas, to have a look at the plot I left behind when I moved house. The Henley College group that took it over has been busy widening the paths and covering them with bark chippings. It’s looking great.

They’ve already planted wallflowers, daffodils, rhubarb and garlic. I’ll go back in a month or so to see how they’re getting on. Unlike me, they managed to meet the deadline for ordering their seeds through the Allotment Association so they’ll be ready to start sowing in the spring. I’ll have to re-order mine this weekend.

Tips from the allotment as we head into the New Year:

  • Keep harvesting
  • Dig when possible
  • Plant new raspberry canes and cut to 6 ins
  • Split rhubarb and leave exposed to frost. Plant in the New Year
  • A top tip that didn’t reach you in time was – plant shallots on the shortest day!