As Christmas passes for another year and we’re all left feeling bloated and overweight from the excess of rich food and alcohol that we’ve ate and drank over the festive season, we of course start making resolutions for the new year, AH YES, what would January be without resolutions, “ I must do this in the garden”, “I must do that in the garden”, “I must do the other in the garden”, all made with great gusto and mostly forgotten before the end of the month. One old lady, a keen and knowledgeable gardener who lived local to me and one cold January day after hearing my new years resolutions put it rather well when she said “ John my boy, The pathway to hell, ‘tis paved with good intentions”
Nature doesn’t help us much either, for the most part gardens and plants appear dormant in January, catalogues of the new seasons seeds, bulbs and young plants have arrived and on a cold, wet or snowy day it’s much easier to sit in the heat of the living room and have grand visions of our new improved layouts than go outside to work in the cold damp, so much for the New Years’ Resolutions. However outside, beneath the soil, where it really matters, life is still busy, water sources are being replenished, root systems are extending and renewing themselves for the growing season to come and spring flowering bulbs have started to push their way through the cold soil, all hidden from the naked eye.
Remember that resolution you made to shed those excess pounds and how you will have to join the gym, forget about it and remember how in a guilt ridden moment you pledged to abstain from chocolate, forget about that too, instead if the weather is anyway reasonable grab a fork or a spade, spread a layer of compost or farmyard mature on any vacant area of the garden and dig it in. If the weather proves unhelpful and you are unable to work the soil, head for the compost heap, no matter how cold or wet or frosty it is turn the heap over, do it a couple of times, you won’t do it any harm. If the weather continues to be awkward start and tidy your plot, remove any place where slugs or snails could hide during the winter, this is a sure fire way to reduce their numbers for next summer.
Not only will a few hours a week of energetic work in your garden in January keep you fit and healthy, (remember the colder it is the more calories you burn, if only to keep warm) it will save you a fortune on gym fees and slug pellets.
Before you know it all the berries on the trees and shrubs will have disappeared to be replaced by catkins on the Garrya and Hazel, rabbits tails on the Salix, flower buds will be swelling on the bare stems of Forsythia and cold, dreary January will be gone for another year. As I was writing this my wife give me a little poem she had come across somewhere, I don’t know where she found it, nor does she but I thought if very interesting.
“January storms of wind and rain
Brings the bitter ice and snow
Yet even while the frosts remain
Under the trees the snowdrops glow”

May I wish you one and all a very Happy, Prosperous and Peaceful New Year and may all your crops flourish and be bountiful.