Five reasons for staying indoors!

Gardening is not an option in these conditions
With Easter approaching you may be itching to get out in the garden with all sorts of tasks already on your ‘to do’ list. As I write, the forecast doesn’t look too bad nationally, grey skies and low temperatures. The ground has taken a punishing of late and your plot may be too wet, too cold, or still covered in snow, so plan some associated tasks indoors. Here are some topics you could consider:

Dobies’ Mid-Spring Catalogue should have arrived in your letterbox by now, so time spent indoors will not be wasted if you read it from cover to cover. It's very clearly set out and is specifically geared to what can be sown, grown and planted from now onwards – vegetables, fruit and flowers. Full of special offers, too, so there is no excuse for you not maintaining a beautiful and productive garden in 2013 (weather permitting of course!) And for those who need more information, the annual 2013 catalogue is still available from the Dobies website listed below.

Read a good gardening book, or organise your bookshelf – a job that is always productive, as tidying your books or cataloguing them acts as a good reminder of what you have and why you bought them in the first place! Renew your acquaintance with your library.

Or add to it:  a fascinating new book hot off the press is ‘Veg Street’ by energetic gardener and author, Naomi Schillinger. Just Published by Short Books and subtitled ‘Grow Your Own Community’, Naomi outlines how she got together with her urban neighbours to start a community gardening scheme. Today, the scheme has more than 100 residents who have turned their front gardens over to growing fruit and veg,and edible flowers. There’s lots of help on how and what to grow; so many ideas that this remarkable book is likely to become a street bible. Cities and Suburbia will never be the same!

Fieldfares in the lilac, shrouded in mist; we feed the on blemished apples
Don’t forget to feed the birds! Its easy enough to refill feeders and top up water when Spring has truly sprung, but many birds will not survive the winter if they have come to rely on what we put out, and then don’t do so when it doesn’t suit us. Proprietary feeds can be expensive, so I make my own table-top delights by scrunching up the cheapest digestive biscuits almost to crumb stage, then adding shredded suet and dried mixed fruit (again, the economy brands). Some mixed seed completes the tasty treat. It’s essential to provide water – a very large circular plant-pot tray, weighted down with a heavy stone, is easy to clean and equally easy to top up, or thaw when frozen (use hot water).

Go Creative: I follow many artist websites and Facebook pages; the quality of work is amazing, and not all these people work at art for a living, but fit their creativity into days out or bad-weather days. If you long to start and can’t think where to begin, here are some inexpensive tips: fold paper-bags into four, stitch up the middle and slit open the folds; voilà – you have your very own little sketch / note book and can scribble or sketch whenever the fancy strikes. With me it strikes often, my garden and my travels are a constant source of inspiration. My fabric and paperbag journals take many forms and are often featured in magazines, or on my various blogs, besides this one. (I often post techniques on my journaling blog; do take a look.) Essentially, keep materials that your would normally discard – packaging, paper, old seed packets, twine, twigs, plant labels; and, of course, sketches or images.

How about some cooking?
Other ideas: a) get to grips with the free trial online Dobies Vegetable Garden Planner: click on the Dobies wesbite and move along under the heading to the ‘Garden Advice’ section; click on that and at the bottom of the list is the planner; b) in the same section you will find Recipe Ideas – why not set about some creative cooking – with potatoes particularly, but also those specially prepared for Dobies by Dobies of Devon Food Ambassasor, Simon Hulstone; c) read back through this blog - all the posts - and make a note of any ideas that might assist your gardening endeavours this year. Still top of the list for favourite posts is anything connected with ‘planning’, and books for enthusiastic gardeners. And with over 2,000 pageviews last month and nearly 51,000 since I began blogging for Dobies of Devon; I'm glad it is useful; and thankyou for your support.

Remember to check for all your gardening requirements (all seeds, plants and other topics) on the Dobies website by clicking on the generic links. You may particularly like: vegetable seedsvegetable plants, flower seeds, flower plants, herbs, fruit and equipment. And don't forget their regular mailings and special offers online. Just keep visiting so you don't miss anything special.

Ann's Journaling Blog can be found here.

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