Soil is a bit easier to work with when it’s damp and the weeds that will be invariably prolific will also be shallow rooted and therefore easier to remove. The wind, rain and frost will damage the top layer of soil and it will lose nutrients and structure and start to erode. Therefore, January is also a good time (if you’re so inclined and industrious) to add garden compost, rotted manure, and other green waste and maybe add seaweed solution and fish emulsion (which is a mild fertilizer) to strengthen plant roots. Seaweed is a soil conditioner and root tonic which helps to improve the balance of soil bacteria, support root growth and strengthen plant stems. Also, cover areas of the veg patch and/or flower beds with old rugs or carpet as this will help maintain a steady level of moisture in the beds, reduce the chances of the soil becoming compacted during the winter months and ultimately keep the soil warmer for when seeds and plants can be sown outside. Admittedly, it doesn’t look particularly attractive but as you’re unlikely to be lounging in the garden much, and it’s dark late and early in the day, what you can’t see can’t offend you!
Check out: Soil Association: Winter
Other jobs that can be attacked if you’re really bored…
Protect terracotta pots from cracking in freezing weather by bringing them indoors or wrapping in bubble polythene. Move plants in pots to a sheltered spot if conditions turn very cold, as their roots are more exposed to the elements. Plant fragrant winter shrubs in pots and place near to the house or paths, such as chimonanthus, sarcococca and Daphne odora.
LEAVES – conflicting advice!
Plant bare-root roses and other deciduous shrubs, plus ornamental trees; hang bird feeders near roses to attract hungry birds that will also pick off any overwintering pests. Prune climbing roses between now and February.
FRUIT and NUT HEDGES
If you have space, plant fruit and nut hedges like hawthorn, blackthorn and hazel as these provide fruit and nuts through the winter and can support wildlife.
Pile straw or bracken around the base of tender shrubs and climbers to protect them from falling temperatures. Hard prune overgrown shrubs and hedges while they're dormant.
Check stored bulbs and corms regularly for any signs of rot. Summer-flowering bulbs and tubers that are being stored over winter should be checked for any signs of mould or rot, and those that might be affected should be removed to prevent it spreading. Any forced bulbs can be brought into a warm room to encourage flowering. January is the last chance to plant tulip bulbs provided that the ground is not frozen.
Back at home, every winter certain rooms in the cottage (well, there are only four / five rooms as it is) develop an irritating blush of mould on the corner walls and the stone lintels. This is the result of a combination of the cold temperatures outside, central heating inside and condensation. So, we will move some furniture and treat the walls and then wander into town for a coffee, because the treatment smells absolutely noxious and is best to be avoided. So a very glamorous Christmas Eve morning – not!
Despite being fairly prudent why is it that all the basic goods run out at the same time? So, stocking up with sauces, condiments, oils and baking ingredients was added to the mix, but I’m hoping that a “big shop” won’t be necessary for a number of weeks! I hate shopping.
Well, the kettle’s on for another cuppa before the onslaught of practical activity...
Righty-Oh-Ho-Ho…. I will finish off by wishing you a fabulous Christmas and even better 2023!
So, if that is what the digital records are like in Outlook, can you imagine what the networks files are like? And, don’t even mention the hardcopy paperwork…. The majority of which is years out of date!! On top of all that, the school has just signed a building project and contracts and the timings are very tight: School finishes on 16th December and demolition of the office and Class2 building starts on the 19th December. Obviously because of statutory requirements the office function has to be up-and-running by the beginning of term (3rd January 2023) so we have ordered a garden office-building (aka a shed!) which is where the Head and I will be based for the foreseeable future!! As well as the shed itself being erected we also have to organise / re-site all the normal furniture and associated filing, and the IT cabling, WiFi and servers, the photocopier / printer (used by everyone in the school), the fire and security alarms, telephone lines, etc, etc, blah blah blah. Hmm… and it’s Christmas break in between-time and a lot of companies /tradies are on holiday (obviously and understandable). As you can imagine it is a juggling act and a lot of this has to take a back seat to the normal day-to-day running of a school office – which is even worse in the run-up to Christmas…. Panto trips, concerts, church services, Nativity Plays and associated families in-fighting for tickets, Christmas lunch (regular? Vegetarian? Gluten free? Any other kind of allergic reaction – made-up or real!?), Christmas Jumpers and Shoe Boxes for charity, School Disco, cold, vomiting, snotty noses and exhaustion, and, more seriously, one confirmed case of Strep A… and so on and so forth.
As many of you are aware, I have been mulling over things for a little while as I have been feeling so tired and out-of-sorts, and “not myself”. So, in light of all of the above, I have come to a few decisions this week – and acted upon them! I wrote to my doctor and subsequently have a face-to-face appointment this week; I booked and managed to get a cancellation booking with my chiropractor (and that immediately ironed out a niggling irritation in my shoulder/neck); I have cancelled my gym membership – until I can summon up energy to go and benefit from it. On the ‘wider’ scale I have also informed all the local associations / people (e.g. Christmas Festival, Winchcombe Together, Open Gardens) that I have done volunteer work with that whilst I am happy to help out, I am not doing organisational roles during the upcoming year. Basically it was just like a continuation of being at work – emails and spreadsheets and dealing with [stupid] questions from people who couldn’t be bothered to think for themselves or take any initiative.
I am also considering the remaining “portfolio” of job roles [paid employment] that I hold and whilst they are under control and do not necessarily require too much deep-thought, they are there, an additional commitment and often create a spiralling sub-conscious “to-do” list.
Which brings me to the crunch…. All of these decisions are fuelled by the need to step away from the “real world” as much as possible and look after myself. I have so little patience with "the general public" and social media that I think it is probably best to keep a low profile. It has been a difficult few years (for everyone, I know) and I think a little quiet time would be of great benefit (for everyone, I would suggest!).
So – that’s what I am doing!
Yes – I hear across the ether - so shut-up Rosie! ?*!
Right – I’m off! Speak soon(ish).