January update

It’s month since Christmas, hasn’t that flown by?! I’ve been busy getting ready for new sowings in February: most of the seeds have been ordered, I have my seed potatoes, onions and shallot sets, potting compost is ready and I have almost finished repairing my greenhouse.

The greenhouse was damaged in recent storms and, due to its age, some of the other panes have cracks and holes too. So I’m repairing them with polytunnel tape, offcuts of polytunnel polythene and bubblewrap saved from deliveries over the year. It is not fancy but will at least keep the worst of the weather out!

This is a lot of plastic but I can’t afford to get a professional repair and at least everything except the tape is up-cycled and would otherwise have ended up in landfill.

I’ll be starting aubergines, peppers and chillies off in here in early February, on heat mats and with grow lights. The heat is necessary, the grow lights useful but you can grow without them, however they will make the seeds grow more quickly into sturdy plants during these darker months, and I need this to happen, for a very special reason that I can not share yet but it is going to require fruiting plants earlier than usual!

Something I can tell you is that this will be my last blog for about a month because there is a lot going on for the next 4 weeks. I am going on holiday for a week with Charles so onand then concentrating on the deadline for my next book when we get back, and then some other deadlines too. This is very exciting… and scary! Publication in June. This is my second gardening book, based on decades of experience of growing whilst also raising a family and going out to work – like most of us really 🙂

Any burglars please note that my older son Ruairi will be here, looking after my plants and especially my fungi, which is fruiting beautifully. I’ve been eating homegrown pink oyster mushrooms and harvested the first Elm mushrooms today. The fungi are all growing in kits which I bought from three different suppliers.

view from where I live into Bruton

We’ve been enjoying some gorgeous frosty mornings here, the ground frozen solid and sparkling. It’s really lovely watching the sunrise over frozen fields on my morning walks. I enjoy having to wrap up warm, and how alive a crisp morning and blue sky makes a person feel!

I especially enjoy frost on the radicchios in my front garden. They look so beautiful.



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It is amazing how quickly the polytunnel, which has been as cold as -2˚C, recovers once the day warms up a bit. I’m enjoying lovely harvests of fresh green leaves , eaten as salad, stir fries, added to soups and nibbled as a snack.

January has been mostly fairly mild, damp and grey. In the greenhouse, which is unheated (just as well as it is full of holes!) peas and sweet peas are sprouting. They were sown into Champions Blend compost which I’m trialling – it is organic, veganic and peat free.

The mild weather is appreciated by birds in my garden and the cows and sheep in the fields opposite. There’s so much grass for them to eat.


If you would like to see where we are travelling and also follow the sowing process for the aubergines etc in my greenhouse, I will be sharing this on my Instagram account. If you don’t use Instagram, the photos are also in a grid on here on the right hand side of the blogs, so you won’t miss out.

More news…..!

I’ve been commissioned by Kitchen Garden Magazine write about my growing at home and at the allotment throughout the year, so do look out for that in your newsagents (or via subscription) – the mag comes with free seeds too.

Coming up, Charles and I are speaking at the Bristol Seed Swap on February 9th and I’m speaking at various events including RHS Cardiff Flower Show, RHS Malvern and BBC Gardeners’ World live – more information when the details have been finalised.

Have a happy month!


2 thoughts on “January update”

  1. Well done, Steph. Your hard work as a mother, gardener and writer really seems to be reaping wonderful harvests. Enjoy your vacation.

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