Well, I don’t mind admitting that in all the recent wet weather I indulged in a couple of days of ‘armchair gardening’ , writes gardening expert Lynne Allbutt.
I have heard it said, “God gives us rain so gardeners can get their housework done”, but that’s not the case here. I settled down in front of the fire with a few seed catalogues, a couple of my favourite gardening books, and a note pad.
Of course, you don’t need to swerve the tech like I do - there’s a huge amount of information online too.
One of my favourite regular newsletters is from Charles Dowding, the No Dig Guru, www.charlesdowding.co.uk but there are many other gardeners and newsletters to learn from and /or subscribe to.
Whilst I am not that good at following the plans I make for my garden, it doesn’t deter me from making them.
I like to try growing a few different varieties in the veggie beds, working out ways to try to beat the rabbits, moles and voles and just mulling over general improvements that can be made.
And I like lists. A lot.
So I have a spanking new roll of chicken wire to stretch around the beds, an exciting list of new seeds to try and a slightly daunting list of ‘things to do’. I have learned that the ‘guidelines’ for life also apply to gardening – ‘stop getting depressed thinking about what could – or did - go wrong and start getting excited about what could go right’.
I have numerous ‘set backs’ every season but also a few ‘little wins’.
This winter I have continued to harvest red mustard leaves, even after the December frosts, and am still picking from the carpet of delicious spicy leaves that self seeded very enthusiastically.
The rabbits have stripped the leaves of the adjacent ground elder – good of them – but left the mustard leaves. I’m guessing they don’t do ‘spicy’. Hooray – because I do. I have ordered lots of spicy leaf seeds for this year.
Two years ago I went to quite a lot of expense and trouble to fence off the whole of the veggie patch after watching one nimble rabbit clear the two foot fence I had put around each individual bed. What I didn’t allow for is that as my veggie plot is higher than the adjacent field and they were tunnelling in through the steep bank and living below my veg garden. As my brother joked - I had fenced them in, not out.
Over the years it has become apparent that rabbits don’t like tomatoes, courgettes, radishes, fennel, leeks, garlic and other strong, spicy food but they are as fond as I am of lettuce, Swiss chard, and milder leafy crops.
Last year I grew cut and come again leaves in a big old zinc water tank – that worked. It is literally trying to stay one hop ahead.
So try to utilise the worst of the winter weather to make plans for your garden this year – whether it’s an allotment or an ‘allittlement’, like a balcony or small patio, preparation is always key.
I love the saying that one hours planning can save 10 hours doing.
And to expand on that – ‘Given 6 hours to chop down a tree, it’s best to spend the first 4 sharpening the axe.’