So, after what was officially the coldest December for 120 years, today it was time to go and see the damage. These sprouting broccoli plants look a bit sad; the heavy and fast-falling snow followed by a prolonged freeze has bent a lot of the leaf stalks. I'm not too concerned; they put on really good growth last autumn and the flower buds are already formed, so we should have a good crop anyway.
These sprouts are a little pathetic, but they're the only sprouts we've ever managed to produce, so I'm happy. I only grew them because I had some seed left from previous attempts and a bit of space - our soil and conditions really aren't right for sprouts, so I won't be growing them again.
The leeks survived well under their blanket of snow and should be ready for picking next month.
I opened up the pile of horse manure which I accumulated over the winter 2009-10 to check it was ready, and here it is - lovely stuff. It surprises me how many people put fresh horse manure on their veg plots, but they were at it again today. Fresh horse manure will burn plants, it needs to be rotted down for a year until it's good and black.
And so today was time for the first gardening job of the year - manuring the rhubarb. It's always the first plant to get going in January and if you look hard at this photo, you can see a few buds pushing through the soil. Rhubarb loves horse manure and so I'm quite generous with it. Yum, yum, can't wait to eat it in a few months! I don't force my rhubarb, just leave it to grow naturally.
Someone (not me) left out a pair of gardening gloves on our last visit and tried to suggest I had left them out to be snowed on and deep frozen. Stiff as a board, as you can see. I gently pointed out that I never wear those gloves as they are too small, and it might be down to the mystery person who also left the shed padlock out and unattached to the shed a few weeks earlier. She graciously conceded the point and put it down to a "senior" moment!
This is my water butt, the water is now thawed round the outside but still frozen inside, as you can see by the frozen leaves in the top! The ground is still a bit frozen in places, we live in a bit of a frost pocket.
This week I've been doing my seed order and planning this year's growing. Apart from the fruit and herbs, I rotate everything every year. The four main crops; cucurbits, brassicas, potatoes and peas, move anti-clockwise to the next large area in sequence each year. The other crops move among the smaller beds. The only big changes in my plans for this year are that I've dropped onions and replaced them with carrots. We tried carrots ten years ago, but struggled with the soil conditions and carrot fly. The soil is much improved since then, and so I'm hopeful we can grow carrots this year. I'm looking at barriers for the carrot fly since companion planting was hopeless. So lots to do and lots of gardening catalogues to peruse...