Kitchen garden in January


It’s not even a month since the Winter Solstice and already I’m noticing that we’re already starting to gain a little more light in the evenings. It’s not much, but it’s definitely a positive!

Last Sunday – despite dreary grey skies and wet ground underfoot, I took the baby and the buggy into the garden at 4pm. Whilst E slept after a being wheeled a few short circuits around the garden, I raked and collected up the last of the leaves for the leaf bin. I worked until just before 5pm, when the light was diminishing rapidly by the minute. Just three weeks ago it would have been impossible to work past 4:30pm… so I can’t complain.

Collecting up the last of the autumn leaves and clearing away last year’s homegrown cosmos flowers were two small but significant jobs that have been lingering on an ever-growing list of Things To Do This January. My Smallest Smallholding may well take a pause in January, but for me it gives me a little breathing space to catch up on a whole host of jobs, before everything kickstarts once again in the spring.

Frosty raspberry leaf backlit by sunshine

Realistically, with a 4 1/2 month in tow, I can only grab snatches of time here and there. To pretend I have hours on hand to potter and preen will do me no favours. So I need to keep the momentum going to keep on top of everything that needs doing.

One thing I’ve learned about parenthood is that I have to work around my new routine. So my To Do List needs to be simple and straightforward. That way, I can tick, tick, tick off the boxes and feel like I’m getting somewhere.

Here’s a few jobs that I’ve lined up for January and February at The Smallest Smallholding:

– Cut down autumn fruiting (primocane) raspberry canes
– Weed & mulch veg plots
– Continue cutting back brambles and pulling up nettles in the overgrown patch
– Plant garlic and winter onions (it’s still relatively warm and February – the coldest month – is still to come)
– Tidy long border
– Plant the last tulip bulbs (eek)
– Prune buddleias, roses and clematis
– Chit potatoes

Autumn Treats

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We have three apple trees at the Smallest Smallholding – a pretty useless crab apple that only really serves as a good bird feeding spot, a Blenheim Orange that I presume is on some kind of dwarf rootstock, and a Charles Ross.

The two trees that provide edible apples are both relatively slow growing, and let’s just say our yields from both trees are very modest indeed. But right now I’ll take quality over quantity and the Charles Ross has grown some stonkers (as in, good stonkers) this season. I’m guessing the mix of downpours and late summer heatwaves gave us some ideal apple growing conditions. I also knocked off quite a few small fruits off each bough earlier in the season, so the remaining fruits have gleaned all the energy and grown to a good size.

Though the Charles Ross could be classed as a dessert apple, I’m going to use both the tarter Blenheim Orange and Charles Ross as cookers. Simply because baked apples are one of my favourite comfort foods. I’m thinking given I have a baby in my arms for a good proportion of the day, I’m going to keep the baking simple.

Apple tart or apple crumble is the plan… Whether I have the time or inclination to pull off baking a simple apple dish this weekend is another matter altogether 😉

 

 

My first container herb & veg garden

Container Garden Smallest Smallholding

Spring is tempting me. When the sun is out, it’s glorious and the warmth is invigorating. The trouble is, we’ve been plagued by clouds and even sleet last Saturday. But I’ve been trying to plough on (not literally) and continue to make even the smallest steps of progress on my little urban garden patch I call The Smallest Smallholding.

The area between the kitchen door at the back of the house and the garden gate is fairly redundant at the moment, but in summer (and especially now we’ve been keeping the hedge height down), it can be a bit of a sun trap at certain times of the day. A bit of bare wall had become a dumping ground for old disused pots and bricks, so I decided to rip out the perennial weeds and try to smarten it up a bit.

Oregano in pot

 

With the short brick wall behind it the warms up in the sunshine, I thought it would be the perfect spot for putting a mini container garden. Something a bit closer to the kitchen, and something to bring a bit of life and cheer to the rambling mess outside the conservatory.

Lady Lavender variety

I started this mini side project a couple of weeks ago, using some old slates and bricks to create a shelf to keep the ants out of the pots. I began by collecting up all the sad and neglected old pots, and began planting in some lettuce plugs but this weekend I decided to add a few flowering herbs in (anything for the bees is fine by me), for both fragrance and colour. I might even get around to using the herbs in the kitchen this year! I also found a lovely compact lavender that I’ve not come across before called ‘Lady Lavender’, which has now been potted up in an old terracotta pot and added to my growing container garden collection.

Cambridge Favourite strawberries

Feeling a bit fancy free, I indulged myself with two 95p ‘Cambridge Favourite’ strawberry plants – breaking the bank, right? – which I need to pot on. I am considering pooling my pennies together and getting a few more and pulling out the old terracotta strawberry container, but I’ve not had a huge amount of success with it in the past since I’m fairly forgetful when it comes to watering. But this year, you never know. I’ll just have to see if I’m up to it since everything is becoming much more of an effort as I pass the 22 week mark in my pregnancy.

I’ll just have to keep ploughing on as I best I can (and remember to water).