Happy New Year. It’s time to start gently working and planning the plot. Just because it’s darker, maybe damp or cold, doesn’t mean there isn’t garden stuff to do.
First, colonise a few windowsills at home. Sow sweetpeas in a sunnier spot inside. They’ll appreciate the warmth. We have the Higgledy Garden selection quietly thrumming, near ready to go.
Spring bulbs would not long ago have to be brought indoors to bloom for Christmas. No more
Sow spinach and hardier salad seed in trays on sills. Though first negotiate this with any significant others. Order your early potatoes to start chitting them. I still use egg trays on a bookshelf in the boy’s old bedroom.
Check online and in local papers for Potato Days/potato breeders near you. Look, too, for upcoming Seedy Sundays or other neighbourhood swaps.
These first-Sunday-in-the-month columns have always relied on advice gleaned from experience, books and jottings about what jobs to do when. Rereading columns, diaries and manuals, consulting the almanac. I am concerned, though, that some of this learning might be becoming close to obsolete. We are living in fast-changing weather times. Seeing a seeming inexorable shift in temperatures and its effect on soil and seasons.
Spring bulbs, for instance, would not long ago have to be brought indoors to bloom for Christmas. No more – at least in London and even Denmark, where we grow them at Henri’s beach house. Both sites saw spring narcissi flowering outside in mid-November. Daisies were still scattered along the beach. Gone for now the frozen northern sea, the deep Danish chill. It may be it’s just this time, this past year – that Scandinavian winter isn’t done with us yet. I hope so.
Assuming then that many of the rules still stand, order early potatoes, your mulches and manures. Sow hopeful seed inside, or outside under cover.
Wherever you are, whatever you garden, I wish you all good growing in 2023.
Allan Jenkins’s Plot 29 (4th Estate, £9.99) is out now. Order it for £8.49 from guardianbookshop.com