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Monday, 8 January 2018

January News from Upchurch Horticultural Society - From the Potting Shed



Sponsored by Upchurch River Valley Golf Club - www.rivervalleygolf.co.uk

The New Year is upon us and we probably have the worst of the winter to look forward to. It takes a committed gardener to venture out this time of year, but a mild day, out of the wind with a bit of sunshine can be pleasant in the garden. I am looking at my weed ridden borders full of dead wet leaves and thinking that they need tidying before the early spring bulbs come through. Snowdrops, irises and daffodils are poking their heads up but are lost in the leaf litter. Freshly turned soil really shows off the spring flowers so well, but I have decided I still have a bit of time and put a fresh log on the fire instead.

The blue tits are also buzzing around the nesting boxes and taking a look. Curiously there are also 3 pairs of long tailed tits getting in their way. I am not sure if these nest in boxes but the blue tits are trying to bully them out of the way. A nesting box is a good idea in the garden. Not only does it provide a lot of entertainment if you have time to watch the birds, but a parental pair of blue tits feeding 7-9 chicks will scour a garden of all its pests. It’s always sad at the end of the year when you clean the boxes to see that some of the chicks didn’t make it, but most did and it helps to maintain healthy numbers.


There is always plenty to do in the garden if you can face it and it will get you ahead of the game if you can get outside, but I am in no position to preach and struggle in the winter. A better plan is to look after your patio plants at your villa in the Canary Islands. However, if you are serious about leeks and onions you need to start now and even I will sow my leeks very soon. 40 weeks are needed from sow to show and I actually won first prize last year for leeks. The competition for onions is serious and to grow the really big ones needs a lot of time and attention. If you are not a competition grower, stay in the warm, there are plenty of other opportunities to win a first prize in the yearly shows. There is a domestic cooking class this year for curry....men only!

Hopefully your plans are in place for 2018 and seed and plug orders are placed and some already delivered. I have a large number of seed packs for long flowering perennials and really want to get more colour in the borders for summer and autumn. It will mean high maintenance but hopefully worth it. Once established I can replace casualties by propagating from cuttings and seeds and slowly change the planting arrangement over time and introduce new varieties. That should keep me going until the day comes when I settle for a few well chosen shrubs and a thick bark mulch.

Last year I concentrated on monthly tips for the garden and will certainly identify the main tasks as we work through the year, but there are plenty of websites offering monthly gardening tips one of the best being the Thompson & Morgan website. This year I would like to take more time to discuss gardening themes like fertilizing, propagation, pruning etc in the hope that this will help to interest people in gardening and to encourage local gardeners to get more involved in horticulture.

We are always looking for new members and try to encourage a fun attitude towards friendly competition. So if you want to grow your own fruit, vegetables and flowers or even enter any of the 3 shows we hold each year, then please get in touch, we would be happy to hear from you.

If you are interested in becoming a new member, (all ages are welcome), please contact Rosey on: 01634 377812 (evenings) or Email: rosemary@ringwoodaccounting.co.uk

Sean Barry - Upchurch Horticultural Society
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