The start of the gardening year

Today is twelfth night and tradition has it that all the Christmas decorations must be taken down and packed away by midnight or you will be inviting the devil into your house. The house always looks a bit bare after its splendour during the festive period. The official ending of Christmas. However, it is also the beginning of my gardening year. Today is the first time I look at the seed catalogues and also the catalogues for small plants. I can begin planning what I am going to grow next year and imagine how great my garden will look. (It never looks as good as my imagination as it always has some weeds where they shouldn’t be but, nothing daunted, I can imagine.)

I like to keep a small area where the weeds can run reasonably rampant. This helps wildlife, particularly insects, which in turn helps my garden.Although some insects are harmful, many are helpful so one shouldn’t be to quick to kill ‘creepy crawlies’. I have to confess, I’m not green enough to leave nature to completely follow her course, I occasionally intervene when one of my favourite plants is under attack, buy I try never to use chemicals and have succeeded in this for the past ten years or so. There are so many ways of controlling pests and deseases without recourse to chemicals that they really aren’t necessarey in a garden. It sometimes takes time tediously picking caterpillers off brassicas but the end result, that I know my vegetables (and flowers) are free from any harmful chemicals, is worth it. There is also something quite therapeutic about clearing a patch of a particular pest. The bane of my life is slugs and snails. I have yet to find and effective deterrant or cure for them. The garden was absolutely full of them when we moved in five years aga and, although they are getting smaller in number, there are still too many.