What a difference a year makes! This time last year we were putting up poly-tunnel frames with shivering hands and were used to working on frozen ground. This year however it is a surprise to see a frost in the morning and have still only had a handful, with the lowest temperature being –4 ºC compared to lows of –12 ºC last winter. Perhaps we have all that to look forward to – winter does tend to drag on as a grower or gardener. The turn of the year always brings excitement as the seed orders are completed and planning for the year ahead is finalised. Realistically though, seed sowing doesn’t start for us until mid-February. So we have to curb our enthusiasm and get on with the jobs that we don’t have time to do during the rest of the year. Cutting bean poles, sorting out our new solar panel shed, cleaning the propagation tunnel, servicing machinery and the like are all on the to-do list.

As the mild weather continues so does leaf production of the salad plants in the tunnel and purple sprouting broccoli has started to sprout too. Our autumn sown broad beans germinated whilst we were away but were also plucked from the ground by birds – there are plenty of other opportunities for re-sowing, but it is always frustrating when pests win the battle. On a plus note, and an update on our pigs – we have chorizo, salami and cured loins (Spanish lomo style) hanging in the back of our van!