Greenfingers - January 2021

Greenfingers0221With even more time to sit and think, or just sit and watch, our list of bird species which landed in the garden (that’s the crucial rule) during 2020 reached 31. The linnet and owl were somewhat unusual, and the willow warbler required a few sightings for identification, but it was frustrating to watch jays, green woodpeckers and dozens of jackdaws flying over. I can remember a few years ago, trying to entice a partridge into the garden with bird seed, but it wasn’t biting, at least not while I was watching. So far this year we’ve seen 20 species. Most notable has been the number of goldfinches - lovely little birds with gold flashes, bright red faces and good manners. If you get your magazine in time the great Garden Bird Watch is on the weekend of the 31st January (when traditionally all birds go into hiding!)

It’s time to check out the seed catalogues and decide what to grow. The Stroud potato and seed day is planned for Saturday 6th February at the Farmer’s market. We tend to grow items which are expensive to buy, such as French beans and mange tout, and this year the plan is to grow flowers and greenery for cutting as well. Last year the zinnias, grown from seed, were excellent. So these are on the list, plus the usual tomatoes, courgettes, butternut squash, and peppers. And then there’s the salad crops.

To increase the carpets of snowdrops, they can be lifted and divided once they’ve flowered, but with leaves. Old hellebore leaves should be removed to show the flowers to best effect, and clumps of herbaceous perennials may be split or reduced. Evergreen hedges and shrubs may be clipped and trimmed, and wisteria should be pruned.

The ESA satellite, SOHO, Solar Observatory in Heliospheric Orbit, has recently completed 25 years of operation, providing images of the sun and its environment from orbit around the earth-sun L1 Lagrange point, located 1.5 million kilometres from the earth in the direction of the sun. As well as providing data on 2 complete sun cycles, it has also discovered approximately 4,000 comets.

Pete Smith