9 Jan 2022

The Winterlude

Happy New Year and welcome to the Winterlude - the ‘dormant’ phase of the garden year and a perfect time to read, take stock and plan ahead. 

Christmas decos have reluctantly been taken down and the little tree returned to the great outdoors, aka my garden. I miss the sparkle of Christmas during January’s grey days so am freshening my herb wreath with prunings from bay and rosemary in the herb garden and making a garland of dried chillies and orange slices for cheeriness. 

The first week of 2022 has been both very warm (for the season) and very cold; this past week I’ve walked by the Thames in warm sunshine and the following day had to scrape ice off my car  - what it is to live in England! I’ve got first potatoes chitting on the windowsill and garlic bulbs waiting to be planted. The garlic will be started off in modules indoors this weekend, I don’t want the cloves to rot before they germinate if heavy rain is forecast!

This week I’ve been reading Lia Leendertz’s The Almanac for 2022. This has become my annual treat to myself, a wonderful little book with ways to celebrate nature through the year. There’s a different theme each year, this year it’s folk. The book is packed with interesting and useful tips for each month - perfect for a nature geek like me ... tide times, moon phases, folklore and songs, the night sky and what to watch for in the hedgerows. (Robins, for example, who are singing to attract a mate and nest building at this time of year.)  And who couldn’t love a book that has a Biscuit of the Month recipe?  

I particularly like the pages on gardening by the moon - not literally gardening at night, of course (although it has been known), but the best times to plant and sow in tune with the moon. 

So, In Tune with the Moon ...

This weekend and continuing until the 17th is allegedly a good time to sow plants that grow above ground as the moon (in the UK) transitions from being a first quarter moon until it’s a full new moon. This theory is based on the moon’s influence on the earth’s water (both seas, river and soil) as it waxes and wanes. Makes total sense to me ... sort of. And, besides, what's to lose?

So, this week, I’ll be sowing hardy peas and sweet peas in saved loo roll tubes, chillies and aubergines in my windowsill heated propagator*, and broad beans. The Almanac says broadies can be sown direct outdoors now but I think an additional indoor sowing until they germinate might be helpful, even in London’s relatively mild climate. 

A few years ago I experimented with sowing hardy broad beans outdoors in late autumn and letting them grow through winter. This was after seeing small healthy bean plants on an allotment in March; I was curious to see if early sowings gave me earlier beans. The result? Not so you’d notice. And, realistically, I much prefer spring sown varieties like Karmazyn and Red Epicure for flavour, and Crimson Flowered for looks.

So in the coming week I’ll be sorting out my seed box, planning, and starting to dig up and pot up misplaced self seeders ... and hoping for some dry weather! 

How about you? Getting out in the garden and allotment or making the most of the Winterlude indoors? 

Stay happy, stay safe. x 

  • Winterlude ... in my opinion a very apt name for this slowing down in the gardener’s year, but borrowed from the Bob Dylan song (1970 folk waltz), also the name of the eponymous annual festival held in Ottawa, Canada.
  • Unless your seedlings can be maintained at a steady temperature, ie. in a propagator or with a heat mat, don’t leave them on the windowsill overnight as they won’t thank you for being exposed to chilly air!


  1. Another spring down Katmazyn fan here. Autumn sown broad beans have failed every time with me. I am dismayed to take delivery of my potato order this weekend. Where am I going to keep them for 8 weeks or more???

    1. Hi Mal, it’s so frustrating isn’t it to find autumn sown anything has been a waste! Although, having said that, I’ve been delighted by my early autumn sown carrots which I was able to harvest (small ones!) for Christmas lunch. Gosh, that’s early for potatoes - I’d keep them somewhere cold and dark until the time is right for you. Good luck!

  2. I'm in the same boat with the garlic. Ridiculous to leave it so late as it's one of my favourites.

    1. Every year is different in my veg patch; I haven’t grown garlic for years as the mild winters here don’t help and I don’t get a good crop for the space they take up. Sometimes though it’s worth just giving it a go, so this year I’m doing just that! Good luck with your garlic ... hope you get good results!

  3. Loving The Almanac!Oh goodness, I'd better get a wriggle on re planting in tune with the moon. It will be interesting seeing your results. Happy 2022.xxx

  4. I’ll try and keep you up to date with moon planting times, Dina - and you’d love the illustrations in The Almanac, it’s a very interesting little book. I’ve been watching the new moon developing all this past week - it’s the simple things that make me happy! - and keeping an eye on the stars in the night sky (when I can see them!). Happy new year to you too! xx


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