January, named after Janus the Roman God of gateways, is the threshold into the New Year and this year I’m sure we are all hoping for that to be a better one than last year. Traditionally this is a time for new beginnings and making resolutions for the year ahead. These days the only resolutions I make are for the garden planting scheme and happily this month the first sowings can be made indoors as the gardening year gets underway.
Time then to “stir my stumps” and make progress with the 2021 plan for the garden. The seeds I ordered in December are here and my seed box is organised, so all I need to decide is how to squeeze everything I want to grow into the spaces in the garden — always tricky.
Planning for the greenhouse is easy: tomatoes, cucumbers and chillies will be the usual occupants once the overwintering plants can move outside in the warm days of late May. The earlier I can get these started the sooner I can be eating my own produce. This always tastes so much better than anything you can buy, no wonder when the journey from the garden to the table is so short. The seeds for these are now nestled in trays on heated mats in the sunroom and will soon be sprouting. The beds in the garden need a lot of attention before they will be ready for any new planting, but the wintery weather has prevented me making any real headway with these, though it hasn’t inhibited the weeds!
The first month of the year is always one of the coldest and wettest and this year we have had everything the elements could throw at us: rain, hail, snow, ice and gales. So even though the daylight hours are lengthening it has been a challenge to achieve anything of note in the garden. A little bit of pruning (for the gooseberries) and weeding (everywhere!) on the milder days has helped me feel like I am making some progress.
I’ll not beat myself up about this, January is a time for reflection, to pause and observe the beauty that nature shows us even in this bleakest of months. The hoar frost, which we used to call hairy frost when I was young, forms on the leaves and branches feathering the edges of their forms. The ice crystals glitter jewel-like, blurring the edges of trees and making a wonderland of the woodland edges. The wild creatures are elusive in these harsh conditions with evidence of their foraging forays often only seen as tracks against the canvas of the snow.
There may not be much happening in the garden in January, but happily it is the month that Spanish oranges are in our supermarkets (at least Brexit hasn’t affected that) and marmalade can be made. I love it spread on toasted sour dough bread, a taste of sunlight to savour while I peruse the garden and await the spring.