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Happy Solstice & Year Review

Today is the Winter Solstice (Happy Solstice!) – the shortest day of the year with just 7 hours and 33 minutes between sunrise and sunset here in North Wales. Gradually we’ll get longer days now through to June which our plants will be well aware of in some magical way.

It’s the time for reviewing the old year, learning lessons to help planning the new.

Merry ChristmasJanuary started for me with my cataract operation, which went well but kept me off the plot for six weeks. At least with my eyes working well I was able to pop a few articles onto the web site.

By February the topics were storm and flood. I’m afraid some people found their plots out of action for year whilst they recovered from the pollution floods bring in the town.

March brought me another health problem with some infection in my leg. The infection wasn’t the problem so much as the really high dose anti-biotic cocktail that it took to stop it. The weather wasn’t up to much outside but the month ended on a high which led into a decent April, warmer than usual with the normal mix of sunshine and showers.

There was a bit of a disaster on the plot as a helpful friend with little gardening knowledge weeded up my seedling onions and leeks. Too late for leeks but I got away with planting onion sets. I tried an old method, adding salt and soot to the soil, which proved extremely successful.

In May the weather was glorious and I seemed to suffer a run of bad luck with the petrol powered equipment, much to the joy and profit of the local garden machinery repair shop. Petrol power is great, liberating you from trailing electrical cable, but it does depend on the temperamental modern engines actually working.

However, my 38 year old Merry Tiller can hardly be described as temperamental. So long as it has fuel it starts and chugs along as if it only left the factory a year ago. I must admit it did appreciate a service this year, only three years overdue! Cleaned the air filter and plug, changed the engine and chaincase oil and it purred as well as it roared.

June saw the new greenhouse up and in action, which was to result in an excellent crop of tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergines and peppers. Situated in the most sheltered spot we have I hoped it would be safe from the storms and high winds we get here. As it was to turn out, the south easterly wind managed to cause some damage.

Later in the year the manufacturers, Vitavia, kindly supplied me with bar-capping to replace the glass clips and I used pieces left over from the destroyed greenhouse to strengthen and stiffen the framework. So far, so good.

August saw an abrupt end to a lovely summer, transitioning into autumn seemingly over-night. I paid a visit to a specialist nursery growing heritage Welsh apples which thrive in the wet climate we ‘enjoy’ in North Wales. Whitefly became a plague in the greenhouse but we coped.

September decided to be lovely Indian summer, which was a nice surprise but October followed the seasonal pattern and autumn arrived proper, ending the month with storms from the remnant of Hurricane Gonzalo.

November saw me on groundworks, laying the base for a new potting shed and through into December constructing retaining walls behind the greenhouse. It would be so much easier if we lived somewhere lower and flat but then again, we wouldn’t have the views and probably couldn’t have afforded to buy it.

Frantically cutting up wood to burn through the winter. We’ve got central heating, powered by LPG (Calor Gas) and to describe it as expensive to run is an understatement. The stove will burn coal, which used to be cheap but no longer and bought in wood is possibly greener but even dearer. Free wood is a different story but even that still takes time to season (dry) and effort to cut.

We’re more or less ready for Christmas which this year we’re celebrating at our daughter’s house. It’s going to be odd not cooking! Cara & Gary’s presents will fit in a carrier bag but Gabriel’s (the grandson) may need the trailer to get them in. We didn’t spend a fortune but little one’s presents seem to be bulky, like the drum and trumpet which his parents will love as well.

I think this will be the last entry before Christmas – so I’ll take the opportunity to wish a Merry Christmas to you. 🙂

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
One comment on “Happy Solstice & Year Review
  1. Dr. Bill Cross says:

    Merry Christmas to you John.

    Noted your comment re White fly. My greenhouse is a lean to on the south side of the house and was plagued with whitefly hosted by a very mature beech tree jut to the east. Helpful person in a Nursery said “Have you electricity in the green house. ” :Yes? “Well then put a good electric fan on a shelf, aim it to the open door and leave it running. White fly are very weak fliers!” Result, very few white fly.

    Here on Canada’s west coast – usually dubbed wet coast by the rest of the country, we are selling up, downsizing and moving to a smaller property with some good scope for a productive garden Have already ordered a greenhouse which will be installed in late January just in time for seeding to start. Challenging for an 85 year old but so very satisfying to still be able to garden.

    Thanks for all your welcome tips in a somewhat similar climate.

    Cheers , Bill

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