Frost has not affected my potager - and the raised beds drain well, too.
Frost has not affected my potager – and the raised beds drain well, too.

Such glorious sunshine and as I walk down the garden to feed the hens this morning, I am conscious of all there is to do within our acre – rush indoors to make the inevitable list. But for the moment it must all be indoor tasks as the water oozes out of the ground, footprints were never as deep as they are today. And testing the edge of the vegetable plot with a fork? No way would I even attempt to step onto the soil or turn it over; it would result in concrete when the moisture soaks away with resultant soil damage. We seem to have fluctuated between afternoons and nights of rain and mornings of early frost and bright skies.

 ‘The Gardener’s Calendar’ by Pippa Greenwood.
‘The Gardener’s Calendar’ by Pippa Greenwood.

I have been at a loose end all week – so much to do but not out of doors. I sit in the kitchen with a cup of coffee, admiring my scented pelargoniums on the windowsill which love the warmth of the radiators. I read and make notes – books, magazines, and a new and very useful acquisition from Dobies: The Gardener’s Calendar’ by Pippa Greenwood. There are diary pages for each day with just sufficient space for briefly noting tasks to be attempted, or jobs achieved. I complete the first three weeks of January and for once am ahead of myself with ‘organisation’. But the beauty of this handy-sized pocket book are in the pages that prelude each month – information and tips packed into a nutshell. Brilliant.

 

 

An ingenious conceptual garden at the 2013 RHS Tatton Park Flower Show.
An ingenious conceptual garden at the 2013 RHS Tatton Park Flower Show.

Into this book go all the garden shows I would like to visit this year. I duplicate them onto my digital diary (iCal on my laptop but synced to my iPad (and hopefully soon, an iPhone!). They go onto a kitchen wall-calendar and again onto my office planner. All this duplication is perfect when I sit and write them in simultaneously, but as the weeks go by, double-booking can occur if an important venue is left out of one memory jogger. Sometimes I resort to stickers – maybe it’s a sign of old age! However, all the RHS Shows are now inserted (though I’ll never get to a half of what I would like to), plus reminders to book tickets, and source local campsites (or B&Bs) so we can send more than one day at our favourite locations.

Beyond recovery (the EEC have banned moth balls),  but good for topping a compost heap.
Beyond recovery (the EEC have banned moth balls),
but good for topping a compost heap.

One job we can do out of doors is to create a new compost heap. We have composting bins, a wormery and bokashi buckets but even that assortment cannot cope with the quantity of green stuff we generate once growth starts. Cinder blocks and refurbished pallets will allow us to ‘repurpose’ our vegetable peelings and non-flowering weed; and I grow copious quantities of comfrey, which acts as an excellent activator. I let my comfrey flower, for it is beloved by bees and they need all the help they can get from gardeners. Topping off the compost heap can often be a problem, offcuts of carpet are useful; today, sadly, I had to discard a moth-eaten oriental rug – it’s been put to good use.

Thinking on the page ...
Thinking on the page …

My garden – any garden – is a source of inspiration for my creative work, as readers and followers of this blog will be well aware. I have set upon a new type of journal this year, as outlined in a newly published book, ‘No Excuse Art Journaling’. The gist of this is that literally, there is no excuse not to record thoughts and observations every day, or on most days. The innovative approach to this challenge is to base one’s journal upon a week-to-view desk diary, and fill it with photos, collages created from magazine cuttings, tiny sketches and various bits and pieces of relevant ephemera. Prompts encourage snippets of writing. Ingenious and adaptable; mine is already under way.

 

 

N.B. Don’t forget the RSPB Garden Birdwatch over this weekend – only one hour needed.

And don’t forget to visit the Dobies’ website for all your gardening needs and requirements. You may particularly like: vegetable seeds, vegetable plants, flower seeds, flower plants, herbs, fruit and equipment. And don’t forget their regular mailings and special offers online. Just keep visiting so you don’t miss anything special.

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