It’s been a funny old winter and one that has really hit the UK hard in the last few weeks. The thick blanket of snow is almost a distant memory now as the ground thaws and the early spring flowers begin to appear. Have you noticed how deafeningly loud the birds are? At 6pm there’s still just enough light in the sky to make a quick visit to the plot after work to top up the bird feeders or sow some seeds in the polytunnel. It won’t be long now until the epic seed sowing marathon commences, but before this busy time ensues, I want to look back at the progress and changes that took place over the winter months.
Since us Brits love to talk about it! There goes an old saying that gardeners put the garden to bed in winter and relax from the warmth of the home until spring. HA! I’ve been racing against the clock to get all my winter jobs done, but the rubbish weather and short, freezing cold days hasn’t helped. The seasons certainly feel as though they are getting later here in Nottingham, UK. We only had a handful of frosts between November and December, even January was relatively mild, but definetely cooler than 2016. February brought on the coldest winter for 6 years, with temperatures plummeting to -6°C and lots of snow going into March! If it wasn’t snowing it was raining. Every chance I had to get some jobs done, it rained which meant I spent a lot of time dashing for cover, but here’s what I did achieve over winter.
In November, I cleared the area beneath my dwarf apple tree that was previously untouched, removing all the debris, glass and weeds. In just a few weeks time this spot will be in full bloom with the hundreds of daffodil, tulip and crocus flowers I planted, I can’t wait! Not only was November the month for planting spring bulbs, but also my garlic cloves. They’re doing ok, but their leaves are looking pretty sad after all the snow!
December is when the hedge pruning began! It’s been an especially big job this winter as I tackled all of the ivy, my overgrown damson trees and the back hawthorns too. I harvested the last of my parsnips and began to recycle my kitchen waste on the compost bin.
January was a month where I focussed a lot of my attention on the shed. Determined to have an organised and junk-free place to make tea and potter about, I decided that what I really needed was a dresser. I picked one up for just £30 from a second hand furniture shop! Later in the month, an unexpected leak meant that I had to re-felt the shed roof and this was something I hadn’t done before. It was cold and windy that day, but with the help of my boyfriend we managed to complete the job…by torch-light. January was also the month when I carefully pruned and re-shaped my dwarf apple tree, removing a few of the lower branches. At this point the pile of tree/ivy pruning was taller than me!
I don’t feel like I got a great deal done in February to be honest! I attempted to tidy my strawberry patch most weekends, but the constant wet weather made any ground work a challenge. I did however, coppice all of my hazels ready to make pea stick supports for my sweet peas in spring. Most of the hedge pruning is also finished, particularly at the back of the plot where I now have a window view towards Nottingham city. Speaking of the city, I joined the Nottingham Organic Gardeners group in February. They host allotment days, guest speakers and events like the Potato Day. In my first meet up, I attend a fantastic talk by garden designer and presenter, Adam Frost. His passion for raw materials as well as structures and focal points has really inspired my plans for this year. I’ll have more on that soon.
It doesn’t seem fair to count March as a winter month, but it seems worth pointing out that on the 1st of the month we had about 4-5 inches of snow. Ironically, the day that some folk like to call the first day of spring! There weren’t any plant-based fatalities thankfully, but my car needed some expensive repair (no, i’m still not over it). My chilli plants at this point have just been potted up and are coming along nicely! I don’t have any other seeds on the go yet, but should start the sweet pea flowers off in the coming days a long with many other seeds as we head into spring!