To keep those January blues away, Nic gives us a few more ideas on how you can use nature to your advantage. For some more ideas, check out her previous article on the subject:
Plant a fruit tree
November to March is the ideal time to plant bare-root trees during their dormant period. Even in the depths of winter, the thought of apple blossom or the first ripe greengage is enough to bring a smile to my face.
How to Plant Bare Root Trees and Shrubs
Fruit trees offer multiple benefits: the blossom is perfect for pollinating insects, they create structure in the garden and, of course, produce bumper fruit harvests once they mature.
There is a place for fruit trees, even in a small garden. We have three apple espaliers along our fence, a dwarf plum and greengage (on pixie rootstock) at the bottom of the garden, as well as pears and cherries in pots.
If vertical space is limited, try stepover apples along the edge of a vegetable or flowerbed. At only 30-45cm high, these trained trees can produce delicious apples along the length of the horizontal tiers.
More apple espaliers
Enjoy a wild read
Dark, cold evenings offer the perfect excuse to escape into the wild through my imagination. Once the fire is lit and I’ve brewed a cuppa, I snuggle under a blanket on the window seat to take time out with a favourite book.
Last year I particularly enjoyed Rebirding by Benedict Macdonald – an account of the exciting opportunities that rewilding the UK landscape offers for wildlife and local communities.
I also enjoyed The Garden Jungle by Dave Goulson - a book that focuses on how to support wildlife and fight climate change in our gardens.
This Christmas, Santa was particularly enlightened in his book choices, so I’m looking forward to curling up with a few new titles during January, including Surfacing by Kathleen Jamie, The Flora of Hertfordshire by Trevor James and The Almanac: A Seasonal Guide to 2020 by Lia Leendertz.
These inspirational books will keep me busy by the fire until evenings in the potting shed become a reality again.
Volunteering with local charities is a great way to get outside with people who share your interests. With many community gardens and wildlife charities throughout the UK, many of us will have volunteering opportunities in the local vicinity.
Over the years I’ve planted pollinator gardens, learnt how to lay a hedge, planted trees in a forest garden and on nature reserves, and run a primary school gardening club.
Taking part in these community activities has brought me happiness and introduced me to lifelong friends.
Sow chilli seeds
Early in the new year, it’s time to look forward and plan for the next growing season.
One of the joys of growing chillies from seed is that January is the best time to sow. The earlier they mature, the more chillies plants will produce in late summer and autumn.
There’s something magical about planting the first fruit and vegetable seeds of the year, and in the next couple of weeks, I’ll be sorting through the chilli seeds we saved last year. These include ‘Lemon’ and ‘Tangerine Dream’ for salads, ‘Ubatuba’ and ‘Hungarian Hot Wax’ for stuffing, and ‘Numex Twilight’ for spicy curries.
So break out the peat-free compost and roll on 2020!