In December our thoughts tend to be focused on forthcoming festivities and the garden isn’t foremost in our minds. It’s dark and cold and we’re not always tempted outside. However, now is a good time to plan and take stock of your successes and challenges over the past season; what worked for you and what you might perhaps have second thoughts about growing again. Gardening is about trial and error and a never ending learning curve. Often frustrating but hugely rewarding too.
Over wintering, shallots, onions and garlic can still be planted out this month but avoid planting in frosty conditions. Clear away any late fallen leaves and cut mint and lemon balm back to just above soil level in containers. Check that any onion set sets or garlic haven’t been disturbed by animals and re-plant any lying on the surface that has been dislodged.
Remove canes and supports where you had beans or climbers growing and tidy them away for later use. Look through your tool shed and have an end of season clear out. Do you really need all those plastic pots, broken modules or pieces of odd membrane? No!
If you are planning to sow directly from seed next season make a list of what to order and go through old seed packets that are out of date and discard. Old seeds just won’t germinate reliably so why hang on to them? It is getting cold but hold off from pruning fruit trees until January of February. Apples and pear trees will benefit from a light prune to remove any dead wood or crossing branches. Stone fruit trees – including cherry, plumb and apricots shouldn’t be pruned until spring to avoid disease.
If you’re growing any brassicas like kale, or cabbage watch out for pigeons. They get more interested in what we grow during winter as there is less around elsewhere for them to eat. If you notice them damaging your crop you might need to protect and cover with netting. If you’ve been growing Brussels sprouts now is a good time to harvest them; any frosts will have made them sweeter and perfect for Christmas!