January 2014
It's January and the Lesser Redpoll are here in numbers.

They are small lively finches that spend a lot of time in the canopy eating mainly tree seeds. I predict that over the coming years they will be more familiar on feeders. Don't forget if you feed birds to wash & sterilise feeders & areas where you feed. These are mainly taking niger seeds.

Even in this mild wet winter, when we have a frost it can persist all day.

First task cutting down some herbaceous perennials like hellebores to make way for new growth.
Tip of the month
How to break down clay soils.
My father gave me this tip as my garden soil was known locally as tock. It was a greyish orange, when it was dry the pick bounced off it, when it was wet you sank into it your boots sticking to it. The noise it made if you could pull your boot out sounded like tock.
I can yell you it worked like a dream.
Goldcrest from last January. Through the kitchen window. Washing up has it’s rewards.
Euryops acraeus a plant from one of my favourite places the Drakensberg Mountains of South Africa. This plant has proved hardy to below -20c. It needs good drainage & a position where it gets maximum sun.

I edge my bet

I haven’t always been successful growing plants from seed so when I get a fair number of seeds I edge my bet. I have sown a number of different seeds in Dec & January, that should be sown in the spring. Most of the december batches have already germinated. I still have seed for the spring.
2nd Jan
Some seedlings emerging, inside a bag in the greenhouse they should have a good head start.
Inside a heated propagator some Cape honeysuckle Tecoma capensis germinated in five days and are doing well. A friend used a mist propagaor and has had similar results.

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