The Gardener’s Way: seasonal tips for January/February

by | | Gardening Tips, Natural Happiness Blog

This is part of a series of blogs to show what we can learn for our wellbeing and resilience from gardening priorities through the seasons of the year.

The depths of winter are not a time for intense activity, in the garden, or in our lives. So, an overall lesson from the natural cycle is a reminder to us all to slow down and renew our resources, ahead of the burst of spring growth that’s only a few weeks away.

Here are some of the typical winter tasks in the garden, and parallels we can draw for ourselves:

Preparing the soil: this is the time to dig manure or compost into your beds to raise fertility. In your own life, clear space for new growth, and build up resources by “composting” your anxieties or frustrations (for more on this, click here). This quiet season is a chance to dig over unresolved issues, assess your vitality and raise it if need be.

Planning and purchasing seed: January is a prime time to set your planting aims for the whole year and buy in seeds and supplies. This fits with the idea of New Year Resolutions: it reminds us to gather the resources we need and to use this time to lay plans for the year ahead, despite the uncertainties.

Winter pruning: some trees and shrubs should be pruned in winter, and it’s also a good time for us to see where we need to cut back if we’re over-extended. This might mean pulling back from a social group or project that’s become too demanding. Most of us find endings tricky and natural communication methods can help, as explored in Seed 4 of the Seven Seeds of Natural Happiness.

Early sowing: even in these chilly months, some crops can be started, but usually by sowing seed in trays indoors, or under glass in a cold frame. This is a useful reminder if you are seeding a new initiative, such as a friendship or a work project: give it plenty of care and protection in the early stages, and be patient!

Structural review: I find the winter is a good time to assess the structure of your garden, and of individual trees and shrubs, when you can see their bare outlines. In the same way you might want to review the structures of your life and work and consider any significant changes in the coming year. The Diamond Process from the Seven Seeds can help you.

Gardening in the winter needs to be opportunistic: get out if you can on those rare sunny days, stay cosy indoors in the rain or snow. Similarly, in our own lives, get plenty of rest in this season, but take the opportunities for action when they arise.