The harvest is my favourite time of year and so are the spring sowings and the summer warmth when the greens are growing so fast. And then its winter! Mild winters might be what we pray for and we are fortunate to live in a climate that allows outdoor work any month of the year so for this article I will share with you my joys of the winter season. Apart from drawing up garden plans to make next year the best yet and drooling over seed catalogs there are many garden tasks that keep me active and upbeat. To get a jump on spring plantings I have already gathered material for making potting mixes. The garden has been dug over and mulched and my compost is perking slowly with all the remaining weeds from the garden. The heap shouldn’t be ignored for long periods because they could be a warm home for rats and mice.
We need a cold season to freeze out some of the worst pests. Climate change means a proliferation of nasty pests which are not dying over the winter months. For that reason I turn my compost heaps and remove clutter that would give shelter to slugs and bugs. A good freeze would decimate a bad slug population and likewise aphids that would otherwise be a problem. Traditionally the autumn fires served the purpose of clearing dead wood which can also harbour disease. Fire also has another benefit of releasing the nutrients in the ash for a soil improver. (Ash is also a good additive for clay and acidic soils.) Winter is when the excess livestock is culled to preserve food stocks. We fatten up, tell stories to comfort the children and celebrate the Solstice; the turning point of the year where it all starts over again