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Homeschool Garden Club - Jobs for January

January has been a poor start to the year. Many of us have been caught in the rain and wind. The mud has not been welcome as I have been out and about dropping off the support materials to everyone. Although there has been some rays of sunshine and colour in the garden this week.

Today has been a bright blue sky day with golden winter light and it has inspired us to get bak out into the homeschool garden, starting with an early seed swop. Our circle of keen gardeners is widening to include more friends and family. As a result, summer bedding has been ordered and paid for already, with the aim that we bought a job lot and will share out the trays when they come with some homeschoolers having 3 or 5 of the plants whilst others will have 10 or 15 of a certain plant. Because we ordered the whole order together, we gained a good discount. Our consumer maths skills then came in to play working out the relative cost of each plug plant and who needed to pay what.

Talking of saving some money - last year we bought some blueberries. When they arrived they were really small plants, much smaller than we thought they would be. So, we had to grow them on carefully. At the beginning of the year, the rain was really bad and the trough the blueberries were in became water logged. There was a worry that we had lost them and all that time and money would have been lost. However, we were able to dig them up and repot them and having had a close look - all three appear to be in good condition and ready to put forth new leaves very soon. Here is hoping to some actual blueberries this summer.

We are checking the last of our brassica plants. Most of the Brussel Sprouts have now been eaten. In todays sunshine, we have been checking on the last of the cabbages and removing the old leaves. The kale is still going strong at the moment and is very good in bubble and squeak. We have still freezers full of kale, onions, leeks, garlic, tomato pizza toppings, ratatouille, bolognese sauce, various soups, apple pies and crumbles, plumbs, currents, raspberries and blackberries, from last year, to eat up. All of this, of course, was made by the Orchard Training Homeschool Cookery Club, who have learnt how to deal with gluts and make the best of the fruit and vegetables we grow in the Orchard Training Homeschool Garden Club. We are hoping to space them out so we can get through the hunger gap of late winter early spring in the garden, before we run out of stores. In the meantime, while we wait for the strawberries to flower and fruit we can enjoy the crocuses.

So, while the weather is good we have made a start on the new year's season. We have began to sew in very small quantities the peas, parsley, peppers, broad beans and salad leaves we have planned. As part of our crop rotation, we will not be sowing onions and leaks this year, as we don't have the space and we shouldn't plant these in the same area as last year. We are trying different crops this year. Some of us have even promised to try them - just to see if they are good to eat. We were all surprised, last year, by the popularity of the broad beans and borlotti beans. These were first to go on the "what shall we grow this year?" list.

We split the rhubarb last year and shared it out between a number of homeschoolgardeners. Now the original plants are looking really health and only just coming up above the soil and unfurling.

What has been nice is to look around and look at what is starting to come up, like the spring bulbs and what is already out. Can you identify what we planted and what we found?

We have not been in this area of the garden for a while, so we can't tell if this plant is about to flower or has flowered and been pollenated already. So, we have some research homework to do to find out.

There is one last very important job to do this January. Whilst I was writing this blog and watching the bird visiting the garden for this weekends Big Garden Bird Watch I spotted a rat on the edge of the garden. I don't like killing any animal but rats are not welcome in the Homeschool Garden. So, sadly I am off to the garden centre for some very special blue corn seed.


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