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Gardening

January 2018:  Gardener’s Resolve…

by Pippa Greenwood

greenhouse

Happy New Year! Now that 2018 is here, what are you going to resolve to do (or not do!) in the year ahead? I could write a book about what I need to do in the garden, but like those non-garden resolutions, I’ve long since realised that it is best to stick to things you’ve got at least some chance of achieving! So I’ll probably not say I’ll    re-turf the lawn or create the much wished for wildlife-friendly pond…I’ve been planning both of these for years with no sign of progress!

Re-cycle pots
Save all the pots and trays you get when buying plants and rinse them out to use next time you need one. Store the pots away from sunlight to prevent the plastic disintegrating.
 
Cover it up!
Make a resolution to dry off and cover up garden furniture once the summer is over. Left out there throughout the worst of the weather, pretty well all furniture will take a serious battering – from rain, cold, ice and, in some cases, even fungi! Shop around for furniture covers that won’t break the bank or, better still, store the furniture in a shed or garage if you have one. Stored properly, it will last much longer and you’ll save yourself a fortune.
 
Grow your own
This needn’t mean total self-sufficiency for twelve months of the year, but aim to grow more of your own fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs. It might mean buying yourself a couple of tomato plants for the first time, or creating a small herb planter, or it could be larger scale and more complex plans if you’re already big on grow-your-own...but increase what you do! Don’t forget that if you’d like UK-grown vegetable plants accompanied by my weekly advice and tips emails, you will find a great choice at www.pippa greenwood.com/grow-your-own.
 
Compost more
It is easy to put things that should be composted in the waste bin, but once you get in the swing of it composting will soon become second nature. Make it easier to compost kitchen waste by putting a container in the kitchen for vegetable peelings, apple cores and so forth. Empty it regularly and there won’t be problems with smells. The amount of extra compost you’ll generate will be well worthwhile. Many local councils offer a really good deal on basic plastic composters.
 
Use that space!
If you have a cold frame, porch, conservatory or greenhouse, put it to use! Any sort of protected growing area has the ability to increase what you can grow and when you can grow it. So raise your own summer flowers in it, force some bulbs in it in the winter or make off-season sowings of salad crops…make it work, but whatever you do, don’t use it as the family rubbish dump!
 
Mulch more
Make use of any organic matter that is bulky – mulch with it. Whether it is well-rotted manure, garden compost, leaf mould, or the used compost from a seasonal bedding display or growing bag, make it into mulch! Applied a couple of inches or more deep over the soil surface, a mulch like this will improve the soil’s ability to conserve moisture (saving you both watering time and water) and may also help to keep weeds at bay. A win-win situation.
 
Pause before you buy
When you’re looking through the seed, plant and bulb catalogues, browsing online or wandering around a garden centre, pause before you buy. I know I’m not alone in having eyes that are much bigger than my plot! It is very easy to order more seeds than you’ll ever be able to sow and plants that you’ll never be able to squeeze into your garden.

I asked some of my well-known gardening friends on BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time for their New Years’ Resolutions:
 
Eric Robson, our Chairman on the show: ‘I've joked about it lots in the past but I'm definitely – and I mean definitely – going to found the Ground Elder Appreciation Society. Great ground cover plant, wonderful as an alternative to spinach and the variegated version should have an Award of Garden Merit. ’
 
Bunny Guinness, garden designer and Chelsea gold medallist: ‘To reap all I sow. My pigs have had rather too good a diet this year - copious quince, grapes, apples and even peaches! It is quite difficult to find time to eat or store it all, but at least they were extremely appreciative reciprocates!’
 
Anne Swithinbank, panellist: ‘My resolution is to tackle some serious decluttering. In the gardening department, this means sorting a horrid muddle of fleece, netting, twine, hand tools, gloves, propagator lids and flower pots filling my sheds. I'm sure I can throw half of it away, then give everything its special place. It's silly to waste precious time looking for these things, when it would be better spent sowing, weeding and planting.’
 

Visit Pippa’s website www.pippagreenwood.com and you’ll find some great gardening things: ‘Grow Your Own with Pippa Greenwood’ (where you receive your chosen garden-ready vegetable plants in the spring accompanied by weekly advice & tips from Pippa) plus gardening tools, raised bed kits, Grower Frames, signed books and more!


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