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Thank goodness 2016 is over.

I’m not sure things look a whole lot better for 2017, but like all gardeners I’m always up for a bit of optimism. And besides, within the safe confines of my garden it is easy to drift off into a world blessedly free of the likes of Herr Trump, Brexit and the wholesale slaughter of my popstar idols.

The world may seem a bit post-apocalyptic beyond the garden gates: but inside, there are sweet peas to pinch out, onions to sow, the last of the veg beds to clear and the compost to turn, just as there were last January and for every January before that. And – assuming Trump doesn’t, in another misguided attempt at ‘locker room banter’ decide to see what that big red button does – for every January to come, too.

I don’t really make New Year resolutions: much too vulnerable to my slightly distracted and forgetful state of mind these days. But January is always a time of promise: of plans made and not yet abandoned, events anticipated and surprises as yet unguessed-at.

So here is what this year promises: and I look forward to every minute.

  • A new life less plastic: I have for some time now been angsting about the quantities of plastic building up in my garden. So this is my year to cut it out, stop taking the lazy option and find some more environmentally-friendly alternatives. I will be blogging about it right here.
  • New fruit: You can never have too much fruit. This year’s trees are apples: James Grieve, Warner’s King and Egremont’s Russet, I think, all on MM106 rootstocks. I am also going to have a go at growing my strawbs up on shelving in a bid to save a few from the mice (who must, by now, be getting very fat indeed).
  • New tomatoes: I’m delving further into the intriguing world of heritage tomatoes, thanks to the packets of tomato seed sent to me from the collection from Knightshayes a year or two ago. Last year it was Sutton’s Everyday – great all-rounder which I’ll be growing again – and ‘White Beauty’, a white beefsteak which had good novelty value but not terribly productive and the flavour was a bit ‘meh’ too. I have half a dozen left to try and new favourites to discover.
  • La nouvelle vie en rose: I shall be spending a lot of time in France. First of all, beginning the long process of sprucing up a little house and garden the family have bought near Bordeaux; second, leading an HF Holidays garden tour around Provence in lavender season.
  • A new book: I have my first book out in September! Look out for it at all good bookshops near you: it’s all about fitting in self-sufficiency around everyday working and family life, from baby-leaf salads to meat and eggs. Basically what I’ve been doing myself for the last decade or two, really. Here’s the official blurb.
  • New days in the garden: Just try to keep me out. As well as my own garden, I’m looking after a beautiful rose garden, ably assisted by a bevy of feathery under-gardeners; building a kitchen garden complete with polytunnel; and tending two little gardens on hillsides where the view is breathtaking every time I raise my head. I anticipate much muddiness and quite a lot of happy days. Bring it on. 

A very happy New Year to you all, and may all your carrots grow straight in 2017!