Slugs, snails and beetles can decimate a row of seedlings. | Ultima Hora

Here we are already looking into the New Year and what our New Year's Resolutions are going to be, and most of all, can we keep them? Here is mine: At least one hour in the garden every day!

I have already started that because the weather just invites one to be out doors. As a result of the awful windy week we experienced just before Christmas the rubbish blown into and about the garden just had to cleared up. It results in sacks full of leaves and twigs, rubbishy bits of plastic from who knows where? Cigarette packets and nobody smokes in our household! You name it and you will probably find it blown into some corner or other.

But what a feeling of success one achieves when the sack is full and everything looks tidy once again and then, one glance at the time and far more than just one promised hour has passed, so it is a simple matter of getting started.

So... What about the real gardening? There are plenty suggestions in my gardening books as to what we can start the year off with. I blatently admit to referring frequently to the book written by Gaspar Caballero de Segovia called ‘Paredes en Crestall’ (in both Spanish and English) making ecological gardening easy. He starts the year off by planting the seeds of, Tomatoes, Peppers, Aubergines, Leeks, Garlic, Lettuce and of course still those Peas, Beans and Broad beans. Any young seedlings like the cabbage family, spring onions, lettuce and Endives can all be transplanted to give them their own space. At the same time, if you have mature winter vegetables there will probably be quite a few than can be harvested now, Cabbage, Carrots, Turnip, Celery, Onions and Leeks. It all really depends on what you have already planted and been able to look after.

Slugs and snails and even catapillars all thrive now and can decimate a row of any young greenery, they have totally eaten off all my early potatoes, I just couldn’t believe my eyes, I thought only the Colorada Beetle attacked potatoes in the summer, there I was wrong. Pesticide to the fore, it really is a must if you want to keep your garden growing. In spite of trying to be ecological there are times when one needs to depend on a pesticide from the garden shop shelves or lose everything that is growing.

Let’s be a little more optimistic, Citrus fruits will be starting to be ready for picking, early varieties of mandarin, tangerine and clementine are already on the market stalls, so should you be lucky enough to have any of these trees in the garden they could well be ready. Some lemons are perpetual so are on the tree all year round. I have found that this is one fruit that lasts longer on the tree than in the fruit bowl on the table so just pick them as you need them unless they are too near the garden wall where passers by think that scrumping a lemon over a garden wall is just there for them to pick!

I guess we all scrumped apples at some time or other when we were children, so what’s the difference? Again I am going to mention the pruning of trees be they fruit trees or ornamental trees. Some will need almost chopping in half, others just a simple tidy up but now is really the time for cutting back ones trees and bushes. One bushy speciman is the Datura family also known as Brugmansia, a fast growing shrub with mile long branches and wonderful trumpet shaped flowers that are already in bloom now. This shrub seems to thrive on being cut back and nearly every leaf joint seems to produce a new flower bud even two or three. It grows really easily from a cutting and once it has taken root there is no stopping it but it is really worth while planting one along any garden wall to make a spectacular hedging and now that they are coming into flower you will be just amazed at how many blooms there are at any one time.

Rubber trees are another tree that takes root from a simple cutting, it has no flowers but its large shiney leaves and pink/red leaf buds grow easily in the garden here where as in Northern climates it is strictly an indoor plant. It can grow to a really large tree or kept under control with frequent cutting back and worth while planting one.

So start your New Year with that one little hour in the garden as from next Wednesday and A HAPPY NEW YEAR from our Daily Bulletin gardening page.