A happy New year, January is not only the beginning of the year, but also the turning point of the of the year, when you can increasingly enjoy starting gardening again. Probably much cold weather lies ahead, but soon Spring bulbs will be poking through the ground, with the promise they bring, of better days to come. Buds on many trees & shrubs are beginning to swell as the days get longer, if only by two minutes a day. With the weather being what it is, there are not too many jobs that you can do outside. Flowerbeds need tidying up, it’s amazing how scruffy they look when all the leaves fall. If the ground is not too waterlogged now is a good time to turn over your vegetable plot, back in November, after that long hot Summer, it was joy to dig over, with the scent of the soil and just falling through the tines of the fork. Check all stakes for newly planted fruit trees and check plants have not been lifted by frost. Dahlias you lifted earlier, make sure they are stored upside down to ensure the hollow stems drain, otherwise they will rot. We all, probably, had a poinsettia over Christmas, for a bit of Winter colour, if you can keep it away from central heating, in a subdued light and not too near any cold windows, it should survive well into the new year. After this encourage your plant to become dormant, to do this let the plant dry out until the leaves wither and eventually drop off. Store your plant in a cool dry place and keep the soil slightly moist until Spring. In Spring, cut it back hard to about 4 inches and keep warm. Following this, the plant should grow on steadily through the Summer months, with an occasional feed of low nitrogen plant food. From September onwards, in early evening, cover the plant with a black polythene bag, so it is in darkness, a total of fourteen hours a day, continue this for eight weeks, then treat as normal & hopefully it will be at it’s best for next Christmas More vegetable facts for you; this month covering onions & tomatoes. Onions; the Greek physician, Hippocrates, prescribed onions as both a diuretic & a wound healer. During the Middle Ages, onions were used to treat snake bites headaches, & believe it or not hair loss! Onions contain natural sugars, vitamins A,B6,C & E. Roman gladiators rubbed themselves down with onions to firm up their muscles, I expect the smell made their opponents eyes water! Tomatoes; originally came from Western, South America, but was cultivated in Mexico and central South America. The tomato arrived in Britain in the 1590’s but no one knows how it arrived, or who brought it here. Health benefits; tomatoes contain lycopene one of the most powerful natural anti oxidants, that claim to help protect against certain types of cancer. Cooked tomatoes are better than raw ones as they release more lycopene . Tomatoes contain vitamins A & C , fresh tomatoes are rich in potassium, and they are good to eat as well!