A new year and a new start – just what do you do in the garden in January? The answer is probably not a lot, certainly when it is wet underfoot. That’s the time for reviewing what went on last year, what worked and what didn’t. I finally managed to get my seed order for this year posted just before Christmas and received them the other day. We do like to buy locally whenever possible, but I have yet to find a seed company here whose seeds give the same germination rate as Thompson and Morgan. The seeds sold in our local Gamm Vert have been very disappointing – has anyone found a decent seed company here?
It will be a very new start for us this year. Our move in October went well considering and we have been working furiously on getting our house habitable, with the occasional sideways look at what will be the garden. It is the usual tale of “doing up a house” – no indoor plumbing to start with, then we installed the loo (flushing, but refilled each time from a watering can), the stove was put in on one of the coldest November days ever, it was 6C indoors and we now have one and a half bedrooms and a shower room. I claim what is possibly the most original Christmas present this year in that I was given a hot water cylinder, and the other half bought himself a tractor. Sadly, neither of them was gift wrapped. Oh, the total bliss of a hot shower after heating water on a gas stove for three months! Now we have only to get the kitchen sorted and we can then think about the garden.
We are now the proud owners of 7.5 hectares of “causse”. Near the house is an enclosure that had been a vegetable garden in living memory i.e. 25 years ago, according to all the neighbours. The farmer kindly turned up with his tractor and ploughed the area we wanted for the vegetable garden and we thought that we would just be able to let winter do its job and the frost and rain would break it up for us, that is until we had a good look at it. Let joy be unconfined, the ground is full of twitch (couch grass, chien dent or however other many local names the stuff has.) As there was plaster boarding going on at the time in the house I opted to start work on the garden. I’ll dig it I thought, it was dry and the roots should shake out easily – HAH – I have never used a pickaxe as a garden tool before. I did soldier on for a few days, but now we have a tractor of our own it will be a case of going over it several times with a tine cultivator and guess who will be picking out the roots each time? Roundup has been suggested by several folk, but we have the basis of a totally organic vegetable garden and we hope to keep it that way.
When we moved we brought with us very many plants and rooted cuttings and they were fine for a while, but once the weather changed they had to go into the barn out of the cold and as a lot of them were from our conservatory they will probably not survive. In a way it is an interesting experiment, I will see just how much cold they can take – the locals say that November was one of the coldest for a long time, so will a cymbidium survive –9C? I shall find out in the spring. The roses are still in their pots, as are the young trees, as we have been too busy to do anything with them, but we hope to get them planted this month. They should be all right as long as the ground is not frozen and no prolonged frost is forecast. What else to do – dry frosty weather is good for hacking back the boundary hedges, and we certainly do need to do that. Our trimmings will be rather large, but will make good kindling – I get a bit manic about the stuff. While out walking the other day we saw that the buds on the cornus mas are beginning to swell – nature is fantastic.
I wish everyone out there a very happy, healthy New Year, rain for when it is dry, no late frosts and time to enjoy your garden.
© Mamiaj 2008
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