There is still plenty to do when your are out gardening in December and as we approach the shortest day of the year, the weather can be quite crisp and chilly. Time to wrap up warm and prepare to prune and prep the garden for next Spring.
What To Do Now
- Avoid walking on frosty lawns.
- Continue to rake up fallen leaves.
- Keep the grass at a healthy 2-4cm in height.
Avoid walking on the lawn when it is frosty, or you will risk damaging the grass. Continue to collect up fallen leaves and add them to a leaf mould compost bin. There should be no need to cut the lawn now however, if you live in a mild climate you may be able to get another cut in before the frosts. It is good practice to leave the grass standing at 2-4cm in height to keep a healthy lawn.
Beds and Borders
- Continue to tidy up perennials but leave some foliage until spring to provide winter habitat for insects.
- Sow Alpines.
- Protect pots and containers from frost. Group pots together in a sheltered area.
- Cover potted plants with winter fleece for added protection.
- Apply mulch to beds to protect plants and their roots.
- Tie wall shrubs and climbers to structure to protect them from winter winds.
- Harvest holly for making Christmas garlands and wreaths. Remember to leave some berries for the birds to feast on.
Bulbs, corms and tubers which have been stored for winter should be checked for signs of disease. Any diseased areas can be cut back to the healthy flesh and treated with fungicide. Remember to lightly water any perennials over-wintering in the greenhouse.
Prune roses lightly, especially where blackspot has occurred but try to leave some of the rose hips on the plant to add a variety of winter foraging for the birds. Tie climbing shrubs to structures to protect against the winter winds.
Continue to tidy up perennials and clear away spent foliage. Leaving some healthy foliage behind will give garden wildlife food and a safe habitat for the cold winter months. Apply a good organic compost to beds and borders to provide plants with a slow release source of nutrients and mulch to protect roots from the coming frosts and snow.
Apply winter fleece to vulnerable plants and move pots and containers to a sheltered position. Group pots and containers together to protect them against the cold, harsh winds.
- Lift out leeks.
- Harvest parsnips.
- collect cabbage, kale and brussels sprouts and protect remaining crops from frost.
- Plant out spring cabbages.
- Lift and divide rhubarb.
- Prune fruit trees except for plums, cherries and other stone fruits.
- Protect tips of fig tree branches which are susceptible to frost.
While out gardening in December it is a good time for repairing and building structures ready for the spring growing season. Now that most of the vegetables have been harvested, take some time to dig over the soil and work in some good quality organic compost to prepare the soil for next year. Try planting in some green manure plants such as buckwheat or white clover. These add nitrogen to the soil, reduce weeds from growing and provide food and habitat for insects throughout the winter months.
Turn over the compost heap and protect it from the cold and damp weather. Keeping the compost warm will aid in the decomposition process.
Planting fruit trees and bushes can be done at this time of year while the weather is still relatively mild. Taking hardwood cuttings from soft fruits can be done now and propagating blackberries, raspberries, gooseberries, red and black currants by inserting cuttings into the ground.
Weeds and Pests
- Look out for brown rot on died down perennials.
- Weed roots are weak at this time of year making them easier to pull up.
Now is a good time to clean out the greenhouse, check it is secure and take measures to keep mice away from stored produce. Check garden fences and structures for stability and clean out the gutters.
Take time to check on ponds and insulate outdoor taps to protect water sources from frost.
Remember to keep garden birds supplied with fresh water and food.
Enjoy the crisp fresh air and pottering in your December garden.