Starting back after the Christmas break was a shock to the system. When we finished just before the festive season, it had been around eleven or twelve degrees. On our first day back it was merely four degrees.…It’s safe to say we were freezing!
You could hear the cabbage leaves chatting with the cold.
Even in the frosty stillness of the January mornings, there are jobs that need to be done. The River Garden needs to be winter-ready or ‘put to bed’ so the first job was to give the raspberry and the gooseberry plants a haircut and thin back the strawberry plants. That alone made one whole area of the garden look much tidier. The rest of the garden, which is largely brassicas (cabbage, kale, purple sprouting broccoli) is still looking neat as nothing much is growing and thankfully even the weeds are taking a well-earned holiday.
Next was the arduous task of turning the compost heap (shovelling it into an empty compost bay) to aerate the matter that has been rotting away nicely over the last six months. We have six compost bays, five of which are pretty full, so we are able to generate our own compost which is full of healthy and vital worms and nutrients to feed back into the earth and nourish next year’s crops. We are also extending some of the growing spaces this year and now is the perfect time to do so.
We mark out the area that needs extending. Cardboard is then laid straight on top of the grass which will starve it of light and prevent growth. We then pile loads of lovely manure on top of the cardboard and leave it to settle. By the time spring comes around, the area will be ready for new crops to be planted. We are very fortunate that we are able to have access to some wonderful manure (only gardeners get excited about the thought of manure!!) from nearby stables, located just over the road from the River Garden. Unfortunately, the only way to get it from said stables to the garden is by wheelbarrow. Still, in this cold, the physical nature of this particular job is very welcome to keep us warm. Plus, there’s still loads of Christmas Pudding to work off from the waistline!