Wild About Wildlife: January, time to start in the garden

Albert Nolan

Reporter:

Albert Nolan

Wild About Wildlife: January, time to start in the garden

A frosty sunset in Castleconnell | PICTURE: Claire Waters

THE start of January has been very cold but dry. Birds are feeling the pinch and I have been regularly topping up with my feeders throughout the day. The weather is also perfect for getting back into the garden and work done early in the year pays dividends later in the year.

I like to ease myself in the first day and make plans of the jobs that need to done in the coming weeks. I don’t make a written list but walk around with the kids and we discuss what we would like to grow this year.

More wildlife-friendly flowers are top of the agenda and also vegetables like peas, beans, spinach and potatoes. These are all firm family favourites and I like to grow what the family likes to eat.

I started to put up the support frame for the peas and beans. While I enjoy this job it takes a bit of time to complete. Early January is the perfect time while the season is quiet. I use old canes and when I run short branches from the willow trees work just as well.

I am really pleased with the winter onions. These were sown in late November and just poked their heads above the soil, before becoming dormant for December. They have started to grow a little over the last few weeks and are now around 5 inches high. I have grown onions every year soon we moved into the house. I am still eating the shallots and onions I harvested last October and they still taste better than any shop brought varieties.

But gardening is never without its challenges and in one section of the bed the onions are way behind and have not appeared. I can’t figure out the reason as they were all sown at the same time and this part is in a really sunny position.

The bed also needed a good weeding and this was a hands and knees job. Creeping buttercup and dock were just starting to establish and after the recent frosts they were real easy to pull out.

The garden robin appreciated having me back and was my constant companion. He was a little bit wary and it will take him a few weeks to become comfortable in each other company. The weeding took twice as long as I had to move away to allow him down to grab a worm. There were a few of these creatures around and I have plenty of well-rotted manure to add to the beds and this comes readymade soil making worms.

Bulbs are starting to appear everywhere from pots, ends of beds to under trees. We sowed daffodils, crocus, snowdrop, alliums and honey garlic and the autumn investment is paying dividends.

Lots of the pots were full of leaves from the trees and I cleared these away so that light will get in and warm up the soul. The leaves acted as natural insulation during the winter and protected the plants from hard frosts.

In the woodland part of the garden I can’t wait to see the first of the bluebells emerge. Hopefully over the coming years they will naturalise to create a stunning display. The daffodils have also survived and are growing. These were found late in the year at the bottom of a bag. I stuck them in more in hope but they have rewarded my faith.

As the light started to fade I started to tidy out the garden shed. Any broken or old pots were put out for recycling. Seeds were sorted and cardboard from the festive gifts was placed around trees and shrubs to keep grass down.

I find that been in the garden, preparing for the spring and surrounded by nature is a gentle way to keep the body and mind active and healthy.

For more, email albert.nolan@rocketmail.com or phone 089 4230502.