January… not the best month for growing

According to form, the most depressing day of the year falls at the end of January. I can vouch for that. As far as gardening news goes, not an awful lot happened.

As I had a new greenhouse to play with, I was determined to get on out there and start growing things as early as I possibly could. Everything was going to get off to the best possible start, and by the summer, I’d be powering a small shop with my veggie delights. I catalogued all my seeds at the end of last year, so I know what I have, what bed it goes in, who to plant it with, and most importantly, when. January arrived, and I have to say, I was itching to get going. So, I looked at the trusty list, and discovered I could plant aubergines, tomatoes, peas and early carrots in the greenhouse. In they all went, and I did a rare thing indeed – I even labelled the trays. I put the small plastic greenhouse inside the big greenhouse, figuring it would provide a nice frost free area for them to thrive.

Then we had a cold snap, and it became blatantly obvious that it wouldn’t be warm enough in there. So, off I went to town and happened upon a half price paraffin heater in our local hardware store. Too good to miss, and the last in the shop, I whipped it off the shelf and scurried to the checkout, before they changed their mind. Feeling rather smug with my bargain, I was almost praying for a frost that night, so I could go and play with my new toy. My wish was granted, and the heater worked a treat. However, from that moment on, the rest of the month was spent running up and down the garden, tending to the seed trays.

At night when it was cold: heater on. First thing in the morning: heater off. Bit of sunshine: seed trays out on the bench. First sign of cold: seed trays back in the small greenhouse. Last thing at night: heater back on, and door zipped up. At some points I’ve seriously wondered if I took as much care over my children when they were young… And that’s not all. Cold weather equals frozen chicken water, so I’ve also had to run up and down replacing that. With all this extra activity during what’s supposed to be the ‘quietest gardening month of the year’, I fully expect to have lost the muffin top I picked up over Christmas. And after all this running around and extra effort, what am I rewarded with? A tray of pea shoots, and not much else.

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To heat… that is the answer

After umming and ahhing and weighing up the pros and cons of heating the greenhouse, I’m happy to report that I’m now the proud owner of a Superwarm 4.

Last night’s frost had wriggled its way into the greenhouse, so I was greeted this morning by a fine layer of ice on the inside. Not, I would imagine, the best morning call for my seeds that I’d planted in there last weekend.

Decision made, I shot off into town this morning to snaffle up a paraffin heater that I’d spotted in Wilko’s before Christmas. £25 smackeroonies, which  seemed a fair price to pay if it meant that the plants survived the winter – or maybe even got a head start.

Well, imagine my delight to find the very last one in the shop – and at half price. £12! For the price of a few bottles of wine, I’ve  now got a sub-tropical paradise in my garden. I imagine I’ll soon be growing bananas and all sorts down there, and fully anticipate tomatoes the size of melons.

I kid you not... that half price sticker is the real deal