Sunday, 24 December 2017



The festive season is well under way with Christmas just a few days away, but the keen gardener finds it hard to hang up the spade, put away the secateurs and relax, as there is always just one wee job needing attention.
Merry Christmas from John and Anna
The Christmas tree has been brought out from the attic, dusted down and put in place and I had every confidence the ten year old Christmas tree lights would still work. Decorations now add a wee bit of festive cheer around the studio. That’s one job done.
Festive poinsettia
Sorting out some festive flowers was not easy. My Christmas cactus which is normally in full flower by now has totally failed to produce a single flower. My pink Phalaenopsis orchid has dropped its last flower, but considering it was in full bloom from August it has done us proud, so it can have a rest in a warm light room and with some occasional feeding it will build up strength for next year. Amaryllis is a great Christmas flower, but our bulb was started too late so will miss the festive season, though it is looking
Green manure ready to dig in
very strong with two large flower spikes. So it was down to the supermarket for a decent poinsettia to give us a splash of colour. There are plenty around of all prices and sizes, so choose a good one as they can last many weeks.
Winter weather has come early this year, but the autumn was quite dry so winter digging has just about been completed apart from the areas with clover and tares green manure which I may leave till the end of winter. This gives them more time for root growth which helps to break up the soil and improve drainage. Nutrients retained in the foliage will be released back into the soil in spring after they get turned in and rot down.
Winter veg in abundance
Garden and allotment weeds were also removed in late autumn and falling leaves collected for the compost heap. The compost heap was getting quite big so it got a final turn over so that fresh material can rot down and be ready for use next spring.
The weather has been kind to winter vegetables so there is an abundance of brussels sprouts, cabbage, leeks, beetroot, swedes, parsnips and kale but my cauliflower Clapton grown from a late sowing were brilliant, but now all used up as they do not keep long once the curds have formed.
The garage has been perfect for storing onions, apples and pumpkins, and the freezer is still bulging with strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants, gooseberries, saskatoons and chokeberries, so we have plenty of choice for the Christmas dinner.
To keep up the festive spirit, a few demijohns of three year old homebrew got bottled up as we will expect a few guests over
Selecting some refreshments
Christmas and New Year so it is hard to know where to start. Will it be the saskatoon, blackcurrant, gooseberry, apple or chokeberry wine or my special Brant grape wine. Three years ago when I started this brew the yeast on the Brant grapes got really excited and kept fermenting as I gave them a bit more sugar, but after reaching 19% alcohol the campden tablets came out to put a stop to the fun. I think this may be better for New Year rather than Christmas.
Now the garden, the store and the vegetables have been sorted out we cannot forget our feathered friends outdoor, so we keep the bird table topped up. The Joseph Rock rowan is loaded with berries which a thrush and our local blackies go to war over, but good luck as any time now we expect swarms of waxwings to appear and clear every berry in site. However I see nearby cotoneasters are just laden with berries so this should keep birds fed for a wee while longer. As I go through stored apples and pick out any with signs of brown rot, these can be cut in half and left out for the birds which seem to enjoy the change in diet.
Browsing through catalogues

Wee jobs to do this week

As most of the wee jobs have now been taken care of we can relax with a wee drink and ponder seed, fruit and flower catalogues to give us inspiration for new ideas and new plants to try out for 2018 to replace those which never reached the grade in 2017.

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