With the year almost over, it’s time to make sure the garden is ready for winter. And it’s never too early to start planning for next year. With shrubs to plant, seeds to sow and winter crops to harvest, there’s always an excuse to get yourself out into the garden.
Get the garden ready for winter
As the temperature drops, insulate outdoor taps with tap covers and check that your greenhouse heaters are working. And now’s your chance to do all that tool maintenance you never have time for during the rest of the year. Sharpen secateurs and mowers, and clean old pots and seed trays ready for next year’s seed sowing.
Birds need food and water more than ever in winter, so keep your bird feeders and birdbaths topped up.
Plant care in December
Prune Japanese maples, birches and grapevines in December when the plants are dormant and less likely to bleed.
To keep your lawn in good condition for next year, clear away leaves so that sunlight can reach the grass, and try to avoid walking on the lawn if it’s very wet and muddy.
If you haven’t got around to cutting back all your perennials, don’t worry, as the stems will provide homes for overwintering insects. But in mild, dry weather, you can still lift and divide perennials in December. Mild weather also means the chance to open your greenhouse door for a few hours to get the air moving and reduce the chance of fungal diseases.
Houseplants will grow more slowly in winter, so water them less often, and make sure they are not placed too close to radiators.
And nothing tastes better in winter than soups and stews made with your very own winter vegetables. Leeks, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, winter cabbage and turnips can all be harvested now.
What to plant in December
December can be a good time to plant, as long as the ground isn’t frozen or waterlogged. Here are a few of the things you could do this month:
- Plant or move shrubs and trees
- Plant tulip bulbs in pots or beds
- Plant bare-root hedging and roses
- Plant soft fruit, including raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, currants and strawberries.
- Plant rhubarb crowns in well-prepared soil with lots of well-rotted manure dug in first to improve drainage
- Sow snapdragons in pots or seed trays in a cool greenhouse for an early show of flowers in spring
- Sow basil, chives and dill indoors in pots on a sunny windowsill for a supply of herbs through winter.
- Sow winter-hardy lettuce ‘Winter Gem’ or ‘Arctic King’ in a cold frame or unheated greenhouse for delicious fresh winter salads.
And if it’s just too cold to garden, why not pay us a visit and pick up some gifts for the gardeners in your life. We’ve got everything you need to inspire you this December.