January

The shortest day has passed, welcome to the longest month.

Nature has undoubtedly mastered the art of winter gardening and even the most experienced gardener can learn from the unrestrained beauty around them.

Vincent A. Simeone
Snow in peak district

January can seem to the longest of months. The joy of Christmas is past, and it starts with the hangover of New Year. Expectations are high from resolutions made: plans for the year ahead can include fitness, wealth and happiness. Yet it is still dark, often wet and frequently cold. January can the real start of Winter, with Icy blasts from the East or North. Energy levels are low, this is still no time to make plans.

As the month progresses, there are signs of life. By the end of the month the days are getting longer and even if it is icy cold, the first signs of spring start to show.

Notable dates in January

1st January, New years day

6th January – Wassail

10th January – Full Moon

25th January – Burns Night

25th January – Chinese new year

January seasonal foods

What is seasonal in January.

If you would like a selection of Seasonal Organic produce, try Riverford veg, fruit and meat boxes

Greens and leaves: Kale, Brussels,

Roots: Stored carrots, maincrop potatoes, Sweeds, Turnips, Parsnips.

In nature

Snow, frost, mice, owls, mud, darkness. This can be the coldest time of year with the greatest chance of Snow in many places.

A good time to plant trees and hedges if the ground is not flooded or frozen.

On the farm

Hedging, tree planting. Sheep in lower pastures. Sheep being given additional feed (Hay, beets, Sheep nuts).

Muck spreading.

Cows loafing close to in within Barns.

Planting trees and hedges in January

Things to do in January

In the January Garden

Gardening hints

Out and about

Frosty days and dark nights

Snow on the hills from a country track

Recipe of the month.

leek and potato soup

A classic, simple winter warmer using the best of whats seasonal. No need to be exact with the ingredients, it is not a recipe to be serious with – have faith. Add lentils or chicken for a meatier texture with more protein.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons (50g) butter or oil (or both!)

4 good leeks

1lb / 450g potatoes

1.8 pints / 1 litre vegetable or chicken stock

Just under half pint / 225ml milk

Salt and pepper to taste

Equipment.

Largish pan.
Blender or liquidiser of some sort (or leave rustic, but chop the leeks quite fine).

Preparation

Clean the leeks: remove any damaged areas or faded green, trim the tip of the green end.
Slice the leek lengthways almost from the base to the green top. Then wash the leeks under a running tap, green end down (upsidedown), opening the leek up to allow the water through. This will ensure that any grit gets washed away.

Chop the leeks. This does not need to be excact.

Clean the potatoes, no need to peel. Chop into cubes.

Cooking

Heat Oil / butter.

Sweat leeks for about 10 minutes over medium heat.

Add potatoes and stock. place lid on pan and simmer fastish for 15 – 20 minutes.

Test potato to ensure its cooked. If not, cook for a while longer.

If you have a blender, blend.

Add milk. Enjoy!

Will freeze.

Winters evening sunset

Activities, things to see and do in January

With short days and seemingly endless nights, January can feel like an eternity of nothingness. However, it is possible to get outside and see things and be refreshed. By then end of the month, there are the first signs of spring. If we are lucky we can have beautiful crisp, dry days and crystal clear nights. Time to wrap up and get out – even in the dark!

If it is frosty around the 10th of January, when there is a full moon, get outside. The light of a full moon on the frosty ground is quite beautiful. Let your eyes adjust, no need for a torch (except for safety near roads or dealing with obstacles). If you are lucky you may see owls flying, or badgers out and about. Look up – the universe is looking down on you.

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January in pictures

Visit the coast