On a grey December morning, neath the roll of a bobble hat, I picked up the repetitive buzz of our telephone and the message to remind me that the Parish Magazine was about to go to print and they had yet to receive my article. Rather bizarrely my spirits were lifted for through the bleak greyness came the promise of new beginnings and the gentle reminder that Spring was on standby. So, whilst December has been pretty grotty, I am prompted to consider the tasks for the New Year and the offerings that will expand our adventures.
We move into January and catalogues. Seed potatoes are already around and the list of varieties offers new and interesting things. It maybe that all you want to consider is a change having had some poor results in 2023, Blight and lack of water in mid summer certainly impacted on some crops, with new potatoes being in short supply and many maincrop bashed by disease. If you have any stored stock then do keep a close eye on them through the winter months. Undetected rot will move through stored potatoes very quickly. In the coming season, I will have a play with a first early called Sherrine. It’s not new but has been unavailable for a while. It is a very versatile early potato and has good disease resistance.
As well as seed potatoes, onion sets and shallots are also about and towards the end of the month can be planted directly into open ground. The real joy of the new season for me is in seed sowing and whilst it is early, you can play. Commercially we used to sow Antirrhinums, Carnations, Sweet William and Pansies in January and would also sow a pinch of Summer Cabbage and a hardy Lettuce. You will be ok with All the Year round lettuce or any leftovers of winter varieties like Arctic King.
I have been scanning my seed catalogues and as a big Tomato fan am very interested in a new cherry variety called ‘Heartbreakers Vita’.It looks and sounds lovely and will compliment my beefsteak favourite Ox Heart which I really rate.
Of course there are good things to see in flower seeds too and my adventure will be with an old fashioned plant called Gomphrena. It’s elegant,tall and floaty and I think set to make a come back.
And finally, when the mood takes, chase of Christmas with a bit of lawn aeration. The moss is invading lawns.
Happy New Year and Happy Gardening.