I am a list writing person, old fashioned, in an organiser and a fountain pen, I also keep a work diary of what’s been happening - not every day of the month, I’ve slipped a bit but I will get back on track - New Year Resolution 1
My brother keeps a diary, notes and to do lists too - it’s the nature of the job as it is all too easy to lose a day, a week, a month in the garden or in the tunnel doing the nice tasks and forgetting about the all essential, mundane, tiring jobs.
I don’t believe the gardening calendar is set in stone
I have used and found incredibly helpful, ‘jobs for the month’ advice when starting out… but after 20 years of experience you soon learn to set your own calendar. Plus where we live, the type of weather we have each month, how the plants respond to the seasonal changes means our to do list changes as nature dictates. That, and sometimes just getting to the job at the right time is tricky! I only just planted my bulbs this month, and that's not the first time it's happened a bit late, no one tell the bulbs!
As we’re in the north of Ireland, this means less sunlight, less heat sometimes, and lots and lots of rain, most of the time. Sometimes our winters are so cold we lose hardy plants, this winter it’s been so mild I have waited and waited for some of the herbaceous perennials to stop flowering, in the end cutting them back to ensure they save their energy for this year's growth.
So each month we will write a blog observing what has been happening with the weather, how the plants are changing season to season and what we are doing in our gardens and at the nursery. It will be a reflective type of post rather than a to do list, as you never can tell what is going to happen and nature is very forgiving… you can always come back the following year to see what we were up to.
This January, as with most, it is a time to plan and a time to prepare for the coming growing season.
Here in Co Down, it’s a little slower to get going, but without all this prep work, it is really easy to fall behind and feel overwhelmed when plants, weeds and pests come back to life and it’s all go go go.
So, all the plants in the tunnel have been tidied up. Plants that need cut back have been, any diseased or moldy leaves have been removed, pots checked for slugs, their eggs, caterpillars and any other nasties that might be lurking underneath. I literally lift each plant, check underneath and move it to another tray in another location. This allows me to also clean and check the carry trays and brush up the tunnel floor as I go, removing pest, weeds and algae. It is time consuming but I can do this as I am a small nursery and have the time at the moment, not sure how tidy it will be come growing and selling season but I will try to keep it as clean and tidy as possible… Resolution No 2.
During the winter months when the temperatures drop at night, tunnels can get damp with condensation dripping from the roof. This causes wet spots, with certain plants getting a little too much water, which in cold months can cause them to rot and die. Moving the plants also helps to eliminate this problem. Watering is tricky this time of year. Most herbaceous perennials are dormant or just starting to show signs of life. I try to water below any foliage to help prevent fungal disease and only water when the plant has dried out. Also, watering at the start of the day allows the plants to dry out a little before the night temperature dips.