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January in the Kitchen Garden

I love January in the Kitchen Garden – a whole new year to play with and get excited about. The days are short but there are still plenty of things to be getting on with.

This month I shall continue with some of the structures and landscaping. I’ll do some tool maintenance: get edges sharpened, oil hinges, fix loose handles etc. When I visit the garden I’ll keep an eye on the crops still in the ground and remove anything that looks diseased…….I’ll also do the same with my stored harvests……a quick, weekly, check over to remove spoiled veg now will save heartache at an entirely ruined store later on.

My big job for January, though, is to sort my sam_0648seeds and make the plan. Ooooh – I love it and get overly excited at the prospect of all the new veg to eat as the year progresses. Being something of a nerd this a highly organised exercise…..I start with a plan of the garden and write in where each veg will be grown – quite an easy exercise as it follows on from the previous years successes just moved a bed over…..and anything I didn’t enjoy gets dropped. Then I start to go through my seeds, in order of the beds they will be planted in, to see if I need to buy anything.

Over the last couple of years as I have learned more about my plants I have been able to save more and more seed… the shopping list is quite small. I buy organic seed from three small companies who have full trace-ability for their growing conditions etc…..I also buy seed from plants grown in the UK…..not only because they should be more acclimatised but because there will be less miles involved in getting them to me (I am passionate about trying to reduce the use of finite resources such as petro-chemicals). I never have an excess of seed – just the amount I need for my own eating needs – but, if I do have a really good harvest of seed I exchange them with friends and double the joy.

Once I have all my seed and my plan the rest is simple (!!)….I make a list of times to sow (indoors or out) and stick it on the pinboard at home…….and then practice patience. I generally start to sow indoors about mid-March to time my plantlets to our last frost at the end of May. I don’t use heated propagators or growing lights for the (eco) reason above – I work with Mother Nature and she generally rewards me with yummy things to eat.

Happy January planning folk and, when you can, step out into the garden and enjoy the blasts of fresh air and birdsong.

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I’m alright Jack

I read. I read a lot. I love my books. I read to escape, I read to fall in love, I read to be challenged. Recently I read a book which floored me… was as if I was reading my own words……as if the author had read my private journals. The book was called, very simply, ‘Spinster’. Ugh. Such an ugly word (thoroughly explored in the book) with connotations of bag lady, of cat lady, left-on-the-shelf-ugly lady……a difficult woman that no man would go near…..

….but this book was, in fact, a celebration of the single woman making her own way, the single woman being complete.alone

So, now you get the picture. Spinster: be afraid……she’s a witch, a hippy, a lesbian, a freak with no kids or husband (for goodness sake!)…..she has an allotment but there’s no man to help her….she’ll give it up before the new year……or she’ll just grow flowers..

As a woman I have had, throughout my whole life, to do the most basic things, the most normal things with defiance…..and that includes my kitchen garden. When I first got my plot I worked (as a nurse) every Sunday and when I did get down to the garden I was either on my own or with a friend (female)……the rumours soon went around that I was a lesbian preacher!!!! Hahahaha……let them think what they will…I will not be defined by religion, politics or my sexuality!

Over the years my plot has become my lover – in so much as it is the thing I want to give all my time and energy to – it repays me with moments of joy and wonder, with moments of quiet and sadness… loves me back as much as I love it…..the more love I give it the more it repays me. I am not single….I am a girl attached to the land.

The soil does not judge me. The soil does not question my life decisions……the soil accepts me and allows me my alone time to think, reflect, smile, cry, laugh…..I love the freedom my kitchen garden gives me……the freedom to let my mind ramble, the freedom to be myself with no questions asked.

Whoever you are, whatever stage in life you are at, whatever question you are asking…….I hope your soil time leads you to your answers. By the way….I’m a proud spinster.