We've been in a caravan in our garden all winter due to house renovations but, despite the few mornings of frozen pipes and no water, it hasn't been all that bad. In fact, there are some definite positives to living in the garden. Last winter I barely strayed past the back door from December to April but this year I've felt much more in touch with the garden. As I write this, there are blue and coal tits mere metres from me, feasting on the seed, suet and dried worms I've moved to the old fruit cage.

From the sink window I can also see my brussels sprout stalks, uncovered after a snowy wind blew their enviromesh cover off. I've never been successful with brussels sprouts before as they are always devoured by pigeons or voles. The voles certainly had their fill of the juicy buttons in December but they've not ventured to eat the higher ones. The pigeons seem to have given up on the higher buttons as well so I live in hope that I'll get a harvest this year. I bought two different types of sprouts from DT Brown at the end of summer 2017: Brussels Sprout Braemar F1 and Brussels Sprout Red Rubine Seeds. The Red Rubine were eaten by the pigeons as young plants but the few Braemar plants that were under the enviromesh, and surrounded by pigeon-diverting perennial kales, seem to fare better.

Brussels Sprouts Braemar with the lower buttons nibbled.

Having no window sills to start my tomatoes and other warm-loving plants prompted me to invest in a Geopod Heated Propagator With Lights. These seeds typically need 20C+ to germinate and I've normally created that with unheated propagators on window sills. However, the seeds often don't germinate until the end of Feburary and the seedlings are then leggy, probably due to lack of consistent temperature and quality light. My tomato yields have been average but the aubergines, melons and lemongrass never quite get around to maturity before the cold comes.

This week I planted tomatoes, aubergines, melons and lemongrass and I'm only just beginning to see the pale, unfurling necks of the seedlings so it's far too early to tell if the consistent heat and artificial light will make a difference.

I also invested in a new pair of thermal-lined gloves this winter. This has made winter pruning and tidying much more comfortable.

Being so much closer to the garden has definitely prompted me to get out there more. Every time there is the slightest bit of sunny sky or warmth, I'm out there preparing another vegetable bed, sowing seeds in the greenhouse or tidying up the winter debris. Soon it will be warm enough to start sowing directly and to drink my tea outside in the spring sunshine.