Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Winter beckons at La Pasera

Winter is fast approaching and the beautiful autumnal colour is falling from the trees. The slightest of breezes stir the drying leaves and sees them drift slowly to the ground below. The mornings are cold with a slight ground frost in exposed areas but luckily we rarely reach below freezing so most of our plants survive without protection.

Even at this time of year there are jobs to be done around the garden and the bright sunny days make it such a pleasure to get wrapped up and take a leisurely stroll around assessing what needs to be done and how urgent it is.

One job that is always very rewarding is collecting the masses of leaves that fall. We store these in two large bins and let them rot down naturally into glorious leaf mold for use next year. Fortunately for us, we had too many this year for the bins and had to resort to my Mother's tried and tested method of putting them in a black bin liner punctured with holes. This works well and is a great way of getting a bit of extra rich compost if you only have a few leaves to collect. Once ours are rotted down a little we will add the bin bags contents to the bins.

The pond, minus fish, needs clearing of leaves most days otherwise it causes excess debris and encourages algae next year. The Gunnera plant is one of the few plants we protect during winter as we are worried that its fleshy crown will rot if frost does set in for any length of time. We normally cover the crown and new growth with old dried Gunnera leaves, this works well. We have also reduced the crown this year as it was getting far too big for the pond area.

Elsewhere in the garden, the carrots, leeks, celeriac, swede, beetroot, lettuce, second crop fennel and brocolli are producing well and it is always a pleasure to wander round with a sharp knife and basket harvesting fresh vegetables and herbs for the day's meals.

The birds are very active in the garden stripping the bushes, grasses and trees of berries, insects and seeds. The highlights this week have been Firecrests, Green Woodpeckers, Heron (arghhh!!!) and the very tame and friendly Robins.

Further afield, these bright cold days are perfect walking weather and it is really invigorating to meander around the country lanes and cliff paths then settle down in front of a lovely log fire.

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