Wild weather is enough to kindle a dream or two about relocating somewhere warmer, drier and sunnier than Scotland in midwinter.
I can usually overcome the urge to glance in the windows of travel agents by reminding myself that it won’t be long before the days are getting longer. Some signs of spring are there already. I grow lots of spring bulbs on the plot so I’ve got flowers to cut for the house and some of them are just poking through the earth.
Dog owners are familiar with getting out in all weathers and so am I. I’m keen for a breath of fresh air after eating a few too many mince pies. Having the right clothes is essential. Wrapped up against the elements, I can always find something to do on my plot.
I’ve tipped out three conical dalek compost bins, separated out the best compost, and returned the rest to continue rotting down. After this it’s surprising how soon worms and microbes get to work again. As long as the ground isn’t frozen, winter is an ideal time to spread compost. Birds come and poke around in it for food and worms continue its decomposition, making it ready for planting in the spring. Remaining lumps can be raked out.
Once again, the local council has delivered a mountain of leaves cleared from local parks to our site car park. Leaf mould is such a useful commodity for those of us gardening on light soil.
Barrowing some back to my plot and flinging it into a circular wire-netting cage is a very warming activity. It’ll mainly get used as a surface mulch round soft fruit bushes and potatoes which appreciate the way it holds moisture.
I’m always impatient to get sowing seeds in spring. Warmth and light are essential pre-requisites. Years ago, I fell heir to some corrugated plastic sheeting and although it’s beginning to show its age, I use it to warm up some soil for early sowings. It won’t work as well as it should if the surface is dirty. A few moments with a washing up brush and cloth make a world of a difference.
Come the spring, I’ll be needing plant supports. Winter is a good time to look out for fallen birch and beech branches. They are ideally twiggy for supporting peas and beans but don’t last longer than a year or two at most.