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2022-12 The Tatsfield Gardener in December


The rainfall in November has been a bit above average and will need to stay that way if we are to replenish our deep underground aquifers before next spring. Despite the rainfall, the percolation through the chalk into the aquifers will take many months.

It is about this time that I am asked about the chances of snow for Christmas and I remind folk that in Tatsfield it is not unusual for us to get some snow in late November and December. It is never very much and disappears quite quickly. The long term forecast shows that it is cooling down towards the end of November and likely to be more settled this month as high pressure builds over us, that means there could be some frosty mornings. As for a white Christmas maybe our old folk lore knows a thing or two!

If Christmas day be bright and clear, there will be two winters in the year”

If December be changeable and mild, the whole winter will remain a child”

After waiting nearly a year I received a small specimen of the Curry Plant (Murraya koneigii), not to be confused with the common name for a silvery garden plant called Helichrysum italicum. This is the plant mentioned in recipe books and by enthusiasts for cooking curries, it is used a bit like fresh Coriander leaves, added to a dish before serving. It is not an easy plant to grow, needs an even temperature of around 15-20C, lots of light, and very careful watering and feeding. Why bother?, I love the pungent smell of the leaves, shop bought so called fresh curry leaves are dry and hardly smell at all, and of course there is the challenge of keeping it alive over the winter months. The plant is now sitting in the conservatory under its own grow light, we will see how it progresses. A grow light is a valuable piece of kit for plants that suffer from lack of light, a bit like us on dull days!, it is also very useful for bringing on early seedlings of vegetables and flowers in the spring – makes a very good Christmas present for a keen gardener?

Cyclamen and Poinsettias are very popular house plants (and make a lovely present) at this time of the year but they often deteriorate quickly, why is this? They are grown commercially in cool conditions, sometimes with extra light; our modern houses are too warm and these plants can suffer a big shock, try and keep them in a cool spot, especially not near a hot radiator or fire; watering also needs careful attention as many plants are full of roots and dry out quickly.


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