Christmas time in my garden

Especially at this time of year the only time I only get to do anything in my garden is at the weekend. This is because when I finish work at 4pm it’s nearly dark and by the time I get home then it is completely dark and I can’t do anything outside apart from tucking the chicken in for the night. I do try and do a little bit before I go to work, but I’m very limited on time.

I know that lots of seasonal gardeners say “Well there’s nothing to do in the garden at this time of year.” But as you and I know there is plenty to do, sometimes more so than at any other time of year. This is why I’m baffled as to why our local council stop garden waste collection between the middle of December and don’t resume again until early March! Several trips down the tip to get rid of the garden waste is needed for me. I can’t have a compost heap, I used to, but the rats made a home in it, and I’d rather try and keep them out of my garden than encourage them in. But all the pruning can’t really go in there, and the brassica stalks don’t break down very well, so I bag it up, book a slot, pack it in the car and then take it to the tip and put it in the garden waste area.

So once Christmas was over, and as I’m not going back to work until Tuesday 4th January 2022, it was time to get out in my garden and get things sorted and ready for the beginning of the next season.

The greenhouses were the first thing to get tidied. I’ve got some plug plants in the large greenhouse that I potted up in the Autumn, some were for Christmas gifts for my client’s, but whatever is left is for me. I gave them a little prune and a reshuffle so they’re all now neat and tidy. Watering isn’t too necessary at the moment as it’s not hot, but as long as the compost is damp then they’ll be fine. I just check them once a week and give them a little water if necessary. All the trays are back in the staging and I’ve tidied up the onions and trimmed off their tops and sorted out any that have gone soft. Again I’ll check them once a week to make sure no others have gone soft and either use the soft ones but if they’re rotten then get rid of them. I think I only ended up getting rid of about half a dozen, still got loads which should keep us going until early March at least.

I then tidied the other greenhouse and did pretty much the same, but I have some plants for a client’s garden that I’m looking after in there, and when they’re ready to plant out in their garden, I’ll do that. They should be ready in a couple of months time.

The climbing rose by the patio I pruned right back, I do this every year. It has glorious red flowers and keeps going all Summer and Autumn and into the early part of the Winter. I’ve got it climbing up a metal structure, but would rather it grow up the fence. But the fence between us and our neighbour is very rickety and on his deeds it belongs to him, but on ours it belongs to both of us? So I don’t know who’s responsible for paying for a new one. He’s propped it up his side, and when it finally gets replaced then I’ll start growing the rose up the new fence, but for the time being it’ll have to do as it is. There are more pressing issues like a new kitchen for us (I’ve never had one) and Mark has promised I’ll get one this year). Oh and not forgetting the pump to our cesspit, that is hanging on by its last legs. Yes we have one of those, actually 3 properties go into it, and we have to be very careful what goes down our loos. The 3 P’s go down the loo “Paper, Pee and Poo!” Nothing else. Don’t flush wipes people they don’t break down and clog everything up. If you have to use them, then put them in the bin!

I also tidied up what I call the “Hydrangea bed”, mainly because there are two hydrangeas growing in there as well as various other plants. It’s a bed that doesn’t see a huge amount of sunlight at this time of year, as it’s right up against the house, so plants that don’t mind shade are perfect, so I’ve got a Hellebore, some Heucheras, and some Ferns and grasses, as well as various other plants. They all seem to be happy there.

I’ve sorted out all my seeds for next year. I went though them all, and any packets of vegetable seeds that I sowed last year that didn’t germinate I got rid of. Sometimes you have to be ruthless. I’m planning on keeping it simple next year……doubt if that’ll happen. But I’ve got all the seeds I want, just ordered the last few from Moles Seeds like Onion seeds, Kohl Rabi (which I’ve not grown for years), as well as some pens to write on labels and then some red poppies to put round the church war memorial. They should arrive very soon. The seeds are now all sorted out in the months I want to sow them in and also which order I want to so them in. I know that sounds very anal, but when time is limited you need to be organised.

I also planted our the rest of my garlic, so hopefully the weather will get cold and then the cloves will split and grow really large. I have 2 varieties of garlic from Sutton Seeds this year “Elephant” and “Vallelado Organic”. Yes I know that Elephant garlic isn’t a true garlic, but I thought it would be fun to give it a go, and surely that’s what gardening is all about.

I’ve also tidied in and around all my brassicas. The dead leaves had gathered on the ground and were looking rather messy. They’re all cleared up now and I also removed any leaves that were about to drop off the brassica plants. Climbing in the brassica cage was interesting, especially when you’re not as bendy as you used to be, but I managed. I can’t say that I looked very good climbing out backwards, but hey I was in the garden on my own wearing my wellies and waders and it’s not a fashion show, and to be honest I don’t care if it looked weird.

A while back I got some wood chips delivered. I got them free because one of my client’s was having some trees sorted out so I asked the tree surgeons if they would drop a load off by my back gate. They were happy to because otherwise they’d have to take them back to their yard and then dispose of them, so I was helping them out. In October I had planned to shovel them in to certain areas of my garden as well as give the chickens some for their run, but I caught covid, not bad, but it meant that I couldn’t do much because my energy levels were so low. I’m completely recovered now so that great. So now I’ve finally been able to spread them about in various areas in the garden. So I shovelled a load between the large raised beds, at the back of the garden and the chickens also have some in their run. The area look all neat and tidy now which is good. There are still a few left, but I’ll just spread them on the track that runs along the side of our house as it gets a little bit flooded there at this time of year. Our other neighbour has a tractor so that compresses the ground a lot.

Another job that I’ve been wanting to get done is to repoint the patio. The sand between the paving slabs is perfect for the weeds to make a home in and grow. I’m forever picking them out, but want to do something more permanent, so I’ve been removing any loose bit between the slabs and hopefully I’ll be able to get some cement in the gaps before I go back to work. I might give the slabs a blast with the pressure hose first as they are a little mossy and dirty. I’ll keep you posted on how I get on.

Fast forward a few days…..

Well, I’ve spent the last couple of days, and it ran over into the week I went back to work because it was a bigger job than I had thought. I removed any crap from between the paving slabs and mixed together some builders sand and some cement. I added enough water to the mixture to make it hold together when you squeeze it in your hand, but then when you push it with your finger it falls apart. I watched a video online to make sure I was doing it right. I sound like my son George as his stories usually start with…..”I saw this video online……”. Although now he’s at uni they usually start….”Well I’d had quite a lot to drink…..”. Bless him. Does that mean I’m down and hip with the young people now?

I was going to used the pressure hose on the patio before I repointed it, but the pressure hose is in the garage and something has nibbled the hose! Bet I know what that animal was. So I couldn’t do that. It took about 3 hours to repoint the entire patio, which I then left for 24 hours and then swept the excess off the following day. The plant pots, BBQ, table and benches are now back on the patio in their proper places and the patio looks much neater. Hopefully 99% of the weeds will be kept at bay now, and if I do spot any I’ll remove them.

Well that was a fun filled Christmas and New Year. I would say a relaxing time, but you know me, always doing something. The weather is going to start getting cold now so I’d better get my full set of thermals out. No snow down in Kent….yet anyway, I’m sure it’ll appear by the end of the month or into February. But we’ll just have to wait and see. We’ve been here for 4 winters and we’ve been snowed in for 3 of them. This is our 5th winter so I expect it’ll happen again. But hey ho if you live where we do, it’s something you have to get used to. That and when you drive down the road expect sheep, swans, horses, peacocks, people and anything else you can think of in the road. Coming round the corner and coming face to face with a massive tractor, now that’s fun.

Happy New Year everyone! Here’s to a very successful 2022 in the garden, seeing family and friends that you’ve been unable to see for a very long time and generally having a wonderful time.

Claire xxx

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2 Responses to Christmas time in my garden

  1. NebraskaDave says:

    Claire, I was just wondering how you were getting along. I’m so glad to hear you recovered from the dreaded Covid without any lingering side effects. I have been able to avoid the Covid. Many relatives and friends have not been so lucky.

    Here in Nebraska the soil is frozen down to a depth of 10 inches at present. I track a website that gives the soil’s temperature at 10 inches and it went below freezing this last weekend. The soil temperature here will continue to drop until the end of February. At that time, we have what we call the spring thaw. As the ground thaws out, the ground becomes muddy down to a depth of many inches. Depending on the weather, this thaw can last for two weeks before drying out. Raised beds with mulched garden paths take the edge off the spring thaw. It’s why I have them.

    Yard waste is only picked up for composting six weeks in the spring and six weeks in the fall. Outside that window they just take it to the land fill with the trash. Sadly, it’s such a waste of potential compost. There are drop sites that will take yard waste but it’s pay to dump place. My city used to be good at recycling but not so much now. I have received many loads of local much for free at my big vacant lot garden to use on pathways and areas by the frontage road. I have my order in for several more. It seems that I can never have too much mulch.

    Have a great day in the garden. And it’s so good to hear from your again.

    Nebraska Dave
    Urban Farmer

    • Gosh that’s a lot of frozen ground, so no digging for you for a while. We’ve not had any snow yet, but have had some serious frosts and lots of fog. But today the sky is blue but chilly. Sounds like your garden waste recycling is very good. If it was like that here everyone would complain so much. When they forget to empty any of our bins we have to report it to the local council and then they usually collect it with in a couple of days. We are very lucky. Take care and I hope you can get out into your garden again soon xx

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