Now that the days are getting longer again (and colder), it’s time to start planning for the new growing season. Not that I can start sowing outside just yet, but it isn’t too far off now...

Robinto has returned!
January 2020

... perhaps late January or maybe early February I will be able to sow my sweet peppers and chilli peppers indoors. It’s always exciting to think about what to grow. I’ve decided I might not grow as many onions this season; not that they are hard to grow, but to be able to store them over winter, you have to dry them properly and with Scotland’s changeable weather this can be quite bothersome. Try getting at least 4 consecutive sunny days with no chance of rain at all - it isn’t easy! Anyway, organic onions from the supermarket are not that expensive to buy - and let’s face it, who needs the stress?

But what I’ll do with the empty onion beds I really don’t know yet, perhaps I’ll sow some green manure. Green manure is a way of preventing soil lying bare; basically you sow special plants which have a purpose. For example, you can sow field beans which restore nitrogen (a very important nutrient) to the soil, or you can sow mustard which keeps wireworm away (those same beasties which have been munching on my tatties last month!).

My half-hour-a-day gardening routine hasn’t stopped just because it’s winter; I have started washing all the used pots from last summer. Again, by doing just one bucket full in my half hour, it seems a lot less work and I am actually amazed that I have found the time to clean up and be ever-so-slightly better organised this year. It’s important to keep the greenhouse clean, but sometimes you simply just don’t have the time. Although I am now faced with a pile of pots in which my large, eight legged friends might reside, I have my brave husband JP on hand to evict these unwelcome squatters so I can clean the spider-free pots.

Remember how I created a bird border bursting with berry producing bushes to attract birds? Well, attract them they have! Birds of all shapes and sizes love them! I even spotted our resident pheasant, Cedric, munching on the berberis berries which grow slightly higher up than the other berries. At first I had mixed feelings about this non-native bird eating the berries, but after all it’s not his fault that he has been released by us humans, and I suppose technically he is a bird so why not let him gorge himself in the bird border? The more the merrier, I say. There have been partridges as well close to our home, but so far I have only seen them outside our garden, maybe the fence is too high for them to fly across?

Speaking of birds; Robinto has returned! Well, to be honest, it probably isn’t the same Robinto who first graced our garden with his presence in 2018, because robins only live for a maximum of 2 years. Who knows, this new robin (‘Robinto Mark II’), may be the offspring of the original Robinto. He waits in the chicken coop for me to give him a few tasty titbits and even pecks at the chicken food while Tufty is right next to him. He’s a bold one, this robin! When Tufty gets too close for comfort he quickly hops onto the chicken swing, clever bird!

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