• The Blooming Old Gardener

The merry year is born like the bright berry

“The merry year is born like the bright berry from the naked thorn.” Hartley Coleridge

Well, all the 2019 festivities are over and 2020 resolutions made. Maybe your New Year’s resolution is to be more active, take up a new hobby or to un-stress. Well we can help you there. You can become a Bloomer!


We’ve had our volunteer’s first get together of the decade. The Xmas decorations are down. The spring bulbs are coming up. We’ve done some planning for the year. And had tea and home-made cake of course.



We have started to tidy the garden. Pulling up old bedding plants and winter pruning some shrubs. Some of the blackcurrant pruning's have been stuck in pots, hoping that they will root. I have found a use for the gooseberry pruning's too. Strewing them round the more vulnerable parts of my garden at home to put cats off squatting there. No one wants prickles in their bottom. Some of these cuttings have already been growing roots, so will become plants for later in the year.

I have pulled up all the Jerusalem artichokes and then replanted a few ready for next year. This plant has grown successfully in a tub, something we weren’t sure about. Everyone I offered them to has asked what to do with them. It seems that few people have eaten them before. I think if you like the sweetness of parsnips, you would probably like these too. The easiest way to cook them is roasted as you only need to clean them. If you want them mashed they need peeling, which can be a bit of a pain. Although the variety we grow isn’t too knobbly thank goodness. I recently added some to potatoes in a curry and that worked well too.

There’s spinach, kale and beetroot being picked in the garden at the moment. The parsnips, swede and celeriac haven’t really swelled enough to make them worth pulling up. A shame, as I was hoping to use some of the swede for Burns night at the end of the month.

If you are looking for something to perk up your winter veg, make some brown butter sauce. Just heat butter in a small pan till its melted. The solids will drop to the bottom. Keep heating without stirring until these solids go brown. Take it off the heat and add some lemon juice (one lemon per 80g butter.) You can use it like that over most veg, or I add capers when using it with potatoes or fish. It can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days and reheated too.


At home, I may have been over-optimistic, as I’ve sown a few herb seeds and some peppers for my window ledge.


My wormery is still busy producing compost and plant food. With the colder weather the worms are less productive. So the advice is not to give them as much kitchen waste. They got all the Xmas dinner peelings though.


We will be doing the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch at the end of the month. This means sitting in the garden for an hour and recording the number and types of bird we see. I usually do the watch early in the morning as there seems to be more birds around then. I don’t expect we’ll see too many in our community garden though as we can’t put out birdseed. It encourages rats. We do have some regular birds who live in the area though. And they feed on what is naturally in the garden. So hopefully they will be there and I might bring them a few treats.


The Blooming Old Gardener


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