The end of January and the beginning of February is a time for maintaining a steady pace before the gradual acceleration of activity as spring approaches and when things can become a little frenetic. Time is running out to complete winter maintenance jobs, planned or unplanned.
The vegetables plots have been cleared and a manure mulch applied to protect the soil over winter to eventually work itself in. Winter vegetables have gradually been harvested with just some leeks and kale remaining. Fruit bushes and trees have been pruned and mulched. The greenhouse has been cleared and cleaned. I always resist the temptation for using the greenhouse for storage so you won’t find piles of pots and seed trays nor any general clutter. I do have some tender plants in containers over-wintering and some rows of 'Little Gem' lettuce not far off being ready for picking. The grape vine 'Black Hamburg' has been pruned and trained. It has reached the point of beginning its journey along the greenhouse roof.
With some exceptions, I start off most of what I grow in pots, modules and trays before planting out in their final positions. These are all cleaned and sorted ready for spring sowing. And of course seed packets have been sorted and orders made for new supplies.
Then there are the bigger annual jobs: trimming hedges, pruning shrubs, repairing stock fencing. I’ve also resumed work on the rough wooded areas on the holding hinterland. This has involved clearing wild shrubs (mainly elder and hazel) and cutting out poplar suckers that have become small trees: all good supplies for the wood burner. Finally, strimming the undergrowth. Part of the rationale for this clearance and tidying up, apart from preventing the poplars from suckering out of control, is to make the area less attractive to rabbits. Another reason is to minimise the somewhat thuggish incursions from nettles and autumn leaf fall on the grazing fields.
Some views of the 'woody hinterland'
There was one building project undertaken over winter which was an 8’ x 8’ mobile sheep shelter. It lasted two weeks. Despite its substantial weight, the recent storm (with no name) was strong enough to lift it up and drop it down the other side of a four foot stock fence. It ended up in pieces - rather a lot of them. The timber and the roofing sheets are all salvageable but it needs to be rebuilt from scratch.
I have commenced further soil preparations on the vegetable plots. I’m putting together a lambing kit which needs to be ready for mid-March onwards and I’m checking for signs of pregnancy in one of the sows I AI’d a few weeks ago. All of this in expectation of good things to come.