The Year Ahead

I hope everyone had a good Christmas and New Year’s Eve? We did, in the sense we eat a bit too much, drunk a bit too much and spent time with each other celebrating the end of the year. It has been a good year for me personally. I have made a lot of changes to my life and I am spending much more time doing the things I enjoy. Starting Horticultural College in September was a big move, not just for me but for the family as well as we had to make quite a few adjustments but I think it has worked out well so far.

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Kale and other brassicas in the tunnel

Winter should be a quiet time in the garden but with so much time spent in college I treasure the time when I can get out and prepare the ground and do all those clearing up jobs that need to be done. I have planted a load of willow cuttings this year, the hare population seem to be particularly fond of them and it is frustrating to find the tops neatly pruned but I still love having hares in the garden, I will just have to find a way of protecting my young tree saplings from having their bark nibbled.

I have cleared an area alongside the barn where I intend to train a medlar and a quince along wires. They both seem to be a bit “old fashioned” but I kind of like that and the quince vodka I made earlier in the year proved to be very popular over Christmas. I haven’t had enough medlars to try out any recipe for them yet, the French call them cul de chien which means dog’s arse, I think more because of the look of them and not because of the taste which is more like a squishy apple.

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Snowball turnips

We have had a good spell of rain over Christmas so I haven’t been able to do much other than clear out more ditches to prevent the drive being washed away and we have had a couple of strong storms which has also meant that outside work is limited. However I have more than enough to be getting on with in the polytunnels which are still being productive especially within the salad department. The Oriental mix is still providing well, I love the shape and form of the mizuna and I have a few Winter Density Lettuce beginning to heart up.

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Mizuna in the tunnel

I have been planting loads of garlic and shallots to follow on from the potatoes last year as I try and get the tunnels back into some kind of rotation. I have planted a few bulbs from last year’s crop but I also tried out planting some garlic cloves from the Lidl after seeing how fast they grew at college and they have come up a lot quicker than my “home grown” variety.

Unlike most of the rest of the country we have had no snow but I do have a good crop of snowball turnips in the tunnel. I am not a big fan of eating turnip but these are quite sweet and are nice grated raw into salads.

I have been growing an old fashioned cabbage this winter called Wheeler’s Imperial. I first planted them out in September and I have been growing them successionally over the last couple of months. It is probably a bit late in the day but I got a propagator for Christmas (Thanks Kate!) and I was itching to set it up, so I am trying out some more cabbage and some more Winter Density just to see if I can grow them this late in the year.

The kale is almost ready for picking and the kohl rabi is hearting up well so there is plenty to keep my busy in the tunnels.

I got a propagator for Christmas and I have been trying it out and got my salad to germinate in 3 days rather than the usual week. I am ging to start off some early flowers just to see if I can!

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I went back to college this week and we have been revising some of our soil science and measuring cation echange in our soil samples. I do love doing science experiments, I don’t think I could work in a lab or anything but it’s a bit like CSI and that’s fun

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I have also been busy with a sowing project while the weather is too wet to get anything significant done in the garden and I am making myself a fancy waistcoat, I just have to decide on the lining.

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I’m hoping this will be a productive year and I am really looking forwrd to the challenges ahead I have the feeling it will be a good one.

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