At the start of winter, the garden may appear dormant, but there are still tasks to be done. Here are some important activities for December:
? Harvest winter vegetables like Brussels sprouts, parsnips, and other hardy crops that have been growing through the colder months. Enjoy the flavours of these delicious and nutritious homegrown treats.
? Prune free-standing apple and pear trees, as well as currant and gooseberry bushes. Remove any dead, damaged, or crossing branches to maintain the shape and health of the plants.
? By mid-December, prune grapevines. Cut back the previous year's growth, leaving a few buds on each spur. This promotes proper growth and fruiting in the coming year.
? Avoid pruning stone fruit trees until spring to prevent the risk of silver leaf disease, which can be introduced through pruning wounds.
? If weather and soil conditions permit, continue planting fruit bushes such as raspberries, blackberries, and currants. Ensure proper spacing and soil preparation for optimal growth.
? Divide and re-plant rhubarb crowns. Dig up established clumps, separate them into smaller sections with at least one bud per division, and re-plant them in well-prepared soil.
? Other winter jobs include insulating outdoor taps and pipes to prevent freezing, ventilating the greenhouse on mild days to prevent excess humidity, protecting plants and pots from frost damage, hanging fat balls and keeping bird feeders well stocked to support wildlife, covering compost bins or heaps to prevent them from becoming waterlogged, turning compost bins to aid decomposition, and ensuring houseplants receive enough light indoors by placing them near sunny windowsills.
As winter takes hold, December brings a serene ambience to the garden. While some plants rest, it's important to take steps to protect your outdoor space and support the well-being of your plants. Here are key tasks to focus on during this tranquil month:
?️ Insulate outdoor taps and pipes to prevent them from freezing in cold temperatures. Wrap them with insulating materials or use purpose-made tap covers to shield them from the biting cold. By taking this simple measure, you can avoid potential damage caused by frozen pipes and ensure a functional water supply when needed.
? Ventilate the greenhouse on mild days to maintain a healthy growing environment for your plants. Even in winter, the greenhouse can become stuffy and prone to high humidity. Open doors or windows on days when the weather is mild to allow fresh air to circulate and prevent the build-up of moisture. Adequate ventilation helps minimize the risk of fungal diseases and promotes better plant growth.
❄️ Protect plants and pots susceptible to frost damage. Move delicate potted plants to a sheltered spot or bring them indoors to protect them from freezing temperatures. Use horticultural fleece, cloches, or other protective coverings to shield vulnerable plants in the garden. By providing insulation, you can safeguard your plants and give them the best chance of survival during the cold winter months.
? Hang fat balls and ensure bird feeders are well stocked to provide essential nourishment for our feathered friends. Winter can be a challenging time for birds to find food, so providing them with a reliable food source is crucial. Hang fat balls, suet cakes, and seed feeders in a safe and accessible location. Regularly check and refill the feeders to help birds thrive during the colder months.
♻️ Make sure compost bins/heaps are covered to prevent them from becoming soggy. Use a sturdy cover or tarpaulin to protect the compost from excess moisture caused by winter rains or snow. This helps maintain the ideal moisture balance and prevents the compost from becoming waterlogged. Adequate moisture control ensures proper decomposition and prevents unpleasant odours.
? Turn compost bins to ensure full decomposition and facilitate the breakdown of organic materials. Regularly turning the compost helps aerate it, promotes the circulation of beneficial microorganisms, and accelerates the decomposition process. Aim to turn the compost every few weeks to maintain a healthy and nutrient-rich compost pile.
? Ensure houseplants receive enough light indoors by placing them on a sunny windowsill. As daylight hours decrease during winter, it's essential to provide adequate light for your indoor plants. Position them near a south-facing window or use supplemental grow lights to ensure they receive the light they need for healthy growth.
By focusing on these tasks in December, you'll protect your garden, support wildlife, and continue to nurture your plants during the winter season. Embrace the peacefulness of the garden in this serene time of year, and find joy in the subtle beauty that winter brings. ❄️??️
As winter blankets the garden, take time to appreciate the subtle beauty it holds and tend to the necessary tasks. Your efforts will ensure a healthy garden and provide a welcoming space for wildlife during the colder months. ?❄️?