Thursday, 2 January 2014

January Ramblings - Welcome 2014!

Welcoming the new year, 2014!

I am starting this year with all kinds of dreams and wishes for a fabulous year at the new homestead.
A new home with a new yard. A new location for the greenhouse with a fabulous new garden shop and new potager, too. Shaking off 2013 and looking forward to a new year.

We have found a great contractor to start renovating this dated, awkward, and non-functioning house into a lovely, practical, and functional home.

Hubby and son are working on the garden shop, getting it ready for gardening workshops, seeds, and seed potatoes. The new potager will go in for spring planting, and the greenhouse is well on it's way, hopefully to be up and running by the end of this month (fingers crossed).

The yard is going to take a bit longer to get up to snuff as we have an acre of it. Am making a three year plan, so that with luck, time, lots of work and money, all the bones of the garden will be in and just waiting for the finishing touches ... in time ; )
I already have it all planned out though, have a picture both in my mind and on paper! I also got some great ideas from a local landscaper for the front yard, which will be ornamental and also 'fruitful'. Stay tuned!
The back yard is going to be all about kitchen gardening, with the greenhouse, raised garden beds, fruiting trees and shrubs. plus a cutting garden, too.

Much to do at this new place, and lots of ideas, too. A great way to start the new year, with dreams for the future.

What to do in the yard and garden this month?

- Pinch back winter pansies.
- Clean up any fallen leaves from around the base of your roses, trees and shrubs (prevent pests and disease)
- Prune your trees and fruit trees this month! Also black currants and gooseberries.
- Put out birdseed wreaths, fill feeders, have water for the birds to drink, and clean out birdhouses in preparation for spring.
- Divide rhubarb. Take a chunk of the root to force in a pot for earlier and sweeter rhubarb.
- If you have not already done so, prune your roses, taking out the 3 D's (dead, damaged or diseased) and cutting them back so that they will not get damaged by heavy, wet snowfalls, should you get some.
- Wash walls of greenhouse or cold frame.
- Wash pots and seed starting equipment.
- Begin to tidy, clean, and organise the glass house, greenhouse, cold frame, garden shed, etc.. for the season ahead.

What to do indoors with a cup of tea or a glass of wine this month?

- Start to think about and plan for what you want to grow in your garden this year.. What do you like to eat? What do you want to 'put up' or can/process, what do you want to store or freeze.
- Go through seed and garden catalogues, order your seeds, summer flowering bulbs (glad, dahlias, lilies...) tools, heat pads, seed cups, pots, etc...
- Journal the past years successes and failures, what changes you want to make, garden plans and ideas, hopes and dreams for this years garden ...
- Inventory your seeds so that you do not re-order what you already have on hand.
What to plant this month?

Under cover or in your cold frames
Veggies ... radishes, mustard, rocket, mache, Swiss chard.
Herbs ... parsley, coriander, and chives (with bottom heat).
Flowers ... Cleome (finicky, do not cover seed, follow directions on packet), Icelandic poppies, sweet peas.

Look at the size of this artichoke in my garden! Wow!

In the greenhouse or a bright, cool window, you can now start your artichokes, onions, leeks.

'Louie' eastern white pine
 Photo from 

What To Do Outside - Freshen up urns and front planters for a fresh new winter look.
Pop in to your local IGC (Independent Garden Centre) and pick up something that looks fresh, bright, and inviting ... and not at all Chrismtas-sy!
I like heathers, trailing ivies, winter pansies and ornamental kale's or cabbages, and I absolutely adore hellebore's.
Or how about some shrubs with bright foliage like a Mahonia, or bright colourful stems like a dogwood?
Evergreens are a great idea, too, but not the forest green ones, as they really shout Christmas. How about a bright, lime-green one to add a crisp, fresh pop of colour to your front stoop? There are tons to choose from, in all shapes and sizes, so that you can find one that is perfect for your look, be it contemporary, modern, simple, or classic chic.  

Winter sowing pic from 'Winter sowing in Holland' on Pinterest
Winter Sowing

Winter sowing is a term for germinating seeds outdoors in mini greenhouses made of milk jugs, etc... in December, January, and February.

You can find lots of information on the internet and even a facebook page dedicated to this kind of sowing and growing. Is fun, is easy, is inexpensive, and gets you playing in the soil in the winter time! Yay!

Here is one blog link, but there are so many.. give it a try, if even just a few pots, to see how easy and fun it actually is.

Journal and Plan

Besides the actual growing bit, this is one of my favourite thing to do.
I lay out all my seed catalogues, my garden mags, favourite garden pics from magazines, and my journal.
Then I start to plan ....

I think about what I want to grow this year, what I want to eat, can and freeze.
What to grow for the greenhouse ( I generally grow what I love, sticking to plants that I am passionate about).
What to grow for my baby girl, my friends, my neighbours....
I also pick out a colour story for the potager ... hues of blues and purples this year, maybe? Or reds, pinks and whites? Maybe purple and lime green and lots of crisp whites! (thanks for the idea, Caroline!)
Plus, make a garden plan to plot out what goes where.

Truth is, I rarely stick with exactly what I planned in the journal, not the colour story nor the garden plan, not even the plantings. Some fun, new or unique veggie, flower, seed, plant or colour will catch my eye and there goes the plan. However, it is still time well spent for I do not throw away the whole plan, I just make changes to it. Besides, it makes it possible for me to order the right seeds, roots, bulbs and supplies.

Some tips for making your garden plans ...
- Do not grow what the family does not eat. It may look great in the pictures, but if hardly anyone likes it, it is a waste of time, money and space. Go buy that veggie from the farmers market instead, for the one person who does like it.
- Some folks only grow stuff that tends to be fairly pricey to buy (think tomatoes, garlic, asparagus...) and pick up the cheaper items (spuds, onions, or lettuce, etc...) at the grocers or farmers markets. Good usage of limited growing space.
- Consider what you want to do with the veggies so that you grow enough... If you are making your own ketchup, tomato sauce, or salsa, as well as fresh eating, then you will need to grow lots of tomatoes, esp of the paste or beefsteak variety. Making sauerkraut, cabbage rolls, and coleslaw? Grow lots of cabbage. Grow lots of onions, hot peppers, beans, etc... if you use them in everything you eat or process. Do your dogs love carrots as much as mine do? Grow succession crops, seeding a few rows several times a year.
- Know where your light is coming from and place tall plants so that they do not shade the shorter ones... or plan for them to do so, if you need to create some shade for your summer lettuce, radishes, spinach ... stuff that bolts in the heat.

Love pretty journals and daytimers


  1. Such great advice, as always. I so enjoy all your tips on what to do in the garden as there is always something I'm forgetting about. Thanks for the shout out on my color plan too! It's my all time favorite combo��

  2. Love that colour plan idea! Thank you : )


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Sadly, the Nitty Gritty Potager blog is no more... but the good news is that I can now be found at my new blog called the Olde Thyme F...