The garden is quiet. In my mind’s eye, January is a dark, wet and bare month. However, I have learned that when you look or when you build a relationship with nature (as we do as gardeners) the reality is there is some colour to be found in the middle of winter and there is always life.
The polytunnel has enhanced the life on the plot right now. It’s been wonderful to enjoy the benefits the cover has provided for growing delicious greens over the winter.
January feels long. Time perception is a subjective experience. When there is little to do to scratch the gardening itch and when we long for the spring, our attention is drawn to the passage of time and it feels very slow.
I’ve learned not to sow anything in January, no matter how strong the desire to grow something is sitting heavy in my gut. The low level of light and cold temperatures mean sowing anything this month requires heat and artificial light. It requires more of our attention and personally, I really don’t see the benefit of this additional resource.
Last year I sowed all my tomatoes in early March, often a crop sown in January, and they were much easier to manage and I had huge yields from the plants right up until October. I’m a fan of finding the most efficient and easy ways to garden and not doing things that take up avoidable resource and time.
January, like most of the winter, is an opportunity to prepare for the growing season ahead. If I haven’t already done so, I use the time to lay compost on the beds. This doesn’t take very long.
I changed my approach to gardening a few years ago and became a strong advocate of no-dig gardening on the allotment, the initial reason was the amount of time it saved. Winters in Wales are very restrictive in the time they give you to dig. The daylight is short and much of the time it’s very wet. No-dig enables me to prepare the beds on the plot with a layer of compost in a day.
Over the last few years I’ve learned more about the significant benefits of not digging the soil but the time saved is still a real big dangling carrot on offer to hang up the spade.
Although the slow passage of time is a frustration to us gardeners, it pays to use the time wisely and put some of the grunt work in. Make any repairs, add woodchip to the paths, sort out the seed packets and plan the allotment and growing space for the spring.
Since November last year, I have slowly been clearing the third of the allotment that has been untouched since I took on the plot three years ago. It was a mass of bramble, couch grass and bindweed. Like much of the rest of the plot, it has mares tail too. I’ve been here before of course. It’s hard work and not very interesting.
I think the best thing to do when clearing a plot is to think of the potential. Think about what that space is going to be. What it is going to provide. Imagine yourself in the sunshine, standing amongst your finished space. It is exactly as you see it in your mind.
What’s your January allotment and gardening plans? Let me know in the comments below.
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