Sunday, 22 December 2019

FESTIVE THOUGHTS


                                                             FESTIVE THOUGHTS

As we enter the few days left in the run up to Christmas our thoughts may well turn to activities other than gardening. The Christmas decorations are everywhere and there is a wee Santa Claus looking out at every turn. The Christmas tree emerged from the attic, a bit dusty, but otherwise in good form, and the wee fairy for the top fitted on perfectly though after a few falls as her dress is now a wee bit dishevelled. We are strong believers in recycling
John looking over new catalogues
so our plastic Christmas tree of over thirty years is no bad going, and the tree lights are still in perfect working order.
However it is not possible to forget gardening duties entirely as there is watering of numerous pot plants and rooted cuttings in the greenhouse and numerous windowsills, and with every dry day I must return to the allotment to continue the winter digging. The year seems to want to end just as wet as it has been since early summer. There has been plenty well rotted garden compost to spread and dig in, as the growth year created an abundance of leaf growth which ends up in the compost heap. Autumn and early winter was surprisingly calm, so as leaves fell they all dropped onto the ground instead of blowing away. So again there was plenty for the compost heap. The fresh compost will have a few months to rot down and should be ready by late spring for digging into the areas for late planted heavy feeders such as courgettes, pumpkins and sweet corn.
Cotoneaster berries for the birds
Weird summer and autumn weather played havoc with early chrysanthemums. They were not early as most flowered in November, and grew nearly six feet tall, well above their supports so strong winds blew them over. Lifting the roots and boxing up ended up as a December task on a rare dry sunny day, so they are now under cover in the greenhouse.
Harvesting outdoor crops to keep the kitchen supplied with fresh vegetables continues, but it is difficult finding a dry day. There is plenty of sprouts, cabbage, kale, Swedes, leeks, winter lettuce, spring onions, parsnips and beetroot though the latter are a lot smaller than normal. I put this down to adjacent crops being so vigorous this year that they have all been fighting for room and the beetroot lost out.
Fresh harvested winter vegetables
Sprout buttons are suffering from attacks of mealy aphis so Anna has to remove a fair number of leaves, though we have huge crops this year. The fresh vegetables together with those in store and freezer will make us near self sufficient all winter, but I really miss my home grown cherry tomatoes produces totally free from any chemicals and grown in border soil so they all came with fantastic flavour and soft skins.
Garden produce in store
Although wet weather keeps us indoors it gives us time to watch the garden birds feeding in our feeders which we keep topped up. They seem to be having a time of great opulence as berried shrubs and trees are just laden with heavy crops from Cotoneasters to Rowans and even those few apples left on the tree after harvesting help the birds get a balanced diet. Berried trees and shrubs, winter flowers on Mahonia Charity and the coloured stems of Cornus and red maple Sango Kaku brighten up the garden in the winter months.
Back indoors the festive period is a great time to relax with a wee drop of three year old Saskatoon or
John completes painting of Arthurs Plot
gooseberry wine and browse over catalogues to see what new plants we can try next year. The allotment rotation plan for 2020 is in place but seed variety selection has still to be sorted out. I usually do a review of the previous year’s crops to drop failures, reorder the best ones, and add in some new fruit and vegetables. However I always have my other hobby of painting when the garden is out of bounds, but as I am painting a winter scene of Arthur’s Plot it is back to the allotment.

Wee jobs to do this week

Polythene lining around greenhouse
This year was one of great growth, so all my geraniums ended the season looking very healthy, so I will try and over winter them in my cold greenhouse, but to keep the cold out it will be lined with sheets of bubble polythene. This can be attached to the framework with plastic plugs which fit into channels in the glazing bars. I have left a few geraniums outdoors in a sheltered spot to see if they will survive if we get another mild winter.

END

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