For many people, January is a difficult month to get through, even when there isn’t a raging global pandemic. In a typical year, many of us feel the post-Christmas, pre-spring blues. If you have a green thumb and can’t wait to get growing again, the winter months can be even more challenging to get through. I find myself scrolling through my Instagram account to come back to the summer posts, the warmth of sunshine on my skin, remembering buzzing insects, and the overall feeling of peace and tranquillity present when I’m at the allotment. Why wait? The weather may not be the same as it was in June, but the good we’re doing our bodies and minds while braving the trip to the plot is better than being at home frantically refreshing our news feeds.
The Simple Things
While I read the daily news to stay up-to-date on the current situation and observe the transforming UK food market, I distance myself from many negatives. Instead, I will focus on enjoying what’s around me and the new hope, which is only a couple of months away, with blooming crocuses, first honeybees emerging out of the hives, and seedlings looking gorgeous in the polytunnel.
Luckily for the allotment holders in the UK, we can still visit our plots during the current lockdown. We should use this time to get a few winter jobs done, but mostly to give ourselves a bit of outdoor hygge feeling.
Take It Easy
A great starting point, especially if you’re feeling lazy and slightly slow, is to treat it as a day out instead of a day of work. I often arrive at the allotment only to get the chair out of the shed, pour myself some tea, and watch the long-tailed tits roaming the hazel tree, searching for spiders and bugs.
As a workaholic, it was challenging to ‘do nothing’ at times, but what it has taught me is that the feeling of happiness can come from noticing something unique and being grateful for it.
I felt it for the first time last summer when I lifted my head from the potting tray to look around my silent and empty allotment before meeting a shiny pair of eyes of a mouse that must have been watching me for some time. Moments like these are unique because they give us perspective; life goes on, Nature is working in her cycle, and beauty is still out there; we just need to look for it.
Mindfulness is about being present at the moment, enjoying what’s ‘now’. Why not prepare yourself a delicious lunch and have an al-fresco experience? Bring a book and a blanket or a notepad to draw some ideas for the coming season.
A short sit down to watch the world go by somehow charges my internal batteries to the point of finally getting some work done, which for me, is an additional bonus.
If you feel like getting some exercise in, January is a good month to prune your apple and pear trees! You can feed them with fish blood and bone powder, but refrain from adding well-rotted manure to its base until later in the spring. We have many cold and frosty days ahead, so adding nitrogen-rich manure too early in the year may encourage premature growth on warm days and frost damage when the temperatures drop again.
I find pruning so satisfying that I’m looking for any other victims of my saw! Beware of this wild feeling; we’re only supposed to encourage growth by cutting other parts away gently.
Other jobs on my to-do-list in January and February include fixing the shed roof, reorganizing the water corner, and building a couple of bird nesting boxes and bug hotels. There are so many garden projects possible during the winter.
Before you know it, the time will come to get the heated propagator out again, and the seed sowing bonanza will commence.