December

There is barely anything left in the flower border except Winter Jasmine, but you are unlikely to see a bee or butterfly abroad this month. The birds, mammals and insects are now foraging for food taking seeds and berries where they find them. If permitted hang up a fat-ball or peanut feeder and enjoy the spectacle of birds snacking on them. A large sunflower head hung up will feed many tits for quite some time.

ESSENTIAL JOBS

  • Continue digging when the weather permits, with your friendly Robin by your side grabbing grubs as you unearth them.
  • You can coppice willow and hazel between now and February, saving the stems for basket weaving or pea-sticks or herbaceous-perennial supports. If you can spare one or two spray them silver or white and use them as part of your festive decorations

Maintenance

  • Fit water butts to catch winter rain from the rooves of sheds, greenhouses, garages, conservatories and your home. An 8 foot by 6 foot shed will yield a harvest of 10 x 210 litre water butts during the winter. Harvest the water now and have it on tap when you need it.

Trees

  • Plant bare-rooted fruit trees and fruit bushes if you haven’t already.
  • Prune back over hanging branches that are in the way and add to the log pile.
  • Wrap up tender fruiting trees like Olives
  • Winter prune apple, pear and plums trees (until the end of January)
  • Check tree ties and stakes aren’t chaffing the bark ready for the winter winds.

Flowers

  • Keep dead heading, only joking, it is only the autumn heathers that need dead heading this month.
  • Go for a walk and gather cones and branches and spray them to make festive decorations.

Vegetables and Fruit

  • Harvest sprouts starting from the bottom.
  • Prune Gooseberry side-shoots back to about 5 cms.
  • It is traditional to plant garlic on Christmas Day before dinner.
  • Harvest the new potatoes from the potato grow bags planted in September/ October in the greenhouse.

Indoors

  • Sharpen tools, wash pots, clean canes and tidy up.
  • Settle down with the seed catalogue and check your list again.
  • Relax and enjoy Christmas and New Year.