What Jobs to do in the Garden in December
Gardening in December is anathema to some but for us hardy, all weather folks, we are thinking what jobs to do in the garden in December so that we can get our fix of outdoor time.
December is admittedly the least productive time, but when the frost is riming branches, seed heads and leaves and the air is fresh and cold it is invigorating, definitely still worth getting out there to do some jobs.
Wrap up warm, grab a mug of coffee or tea and come with me. I will show you fantastic gardening ideas to do this month. From new plants to grow from seeds, to what is growing in the veg plot and many other seasonal tasks.
We’re coming up to the winter solstice, it is a time of rest and recuperation, for me the downtime still includes moments outdoors in my garden.
If you are looking for ways to escape the inevitable hustle and bustle of preparing for the coming festivities then your garden provides the perfect place and antidote.
Beds and Borders
Dig over empty beds and borders, both in the garden and on veg plots. Dig in homemade compost and/or well-rotted manure. Frosty, cold weather will break down large lumps of soil.
Dead head plants in winter flowering pots or baskets to ensure continual flowers.
When watering potted plants direct the water to the compost to give them a good drink, but do not let them become waterlogged. If you have already done so, stand all your pots on pot feet or stones, this provides instant drainage and prevents frost from damaging your pots.
What to Prune in December
Prune wisteria, woody deciduous shrubs and trees, roses, fruit trees, grape vines and Japanese Maples. Plums, cherries, and other stone fruit, should be left until summer to prune.
Woody deciduous shrubs and trees can be hard pruned now. It is the optimum time to prune as the leaves have dropped so you can see more clearly where best to prune. This makes it a more creative enterprise, you can shape your trees and shrubs to best effect.
Deciduous plants are dormant right now, by pruning hard we stimulate new, stronger, healthy growth in spring. Winter pruning promotes multiple stem growth which makes shrubs bushier. By pruning regularly you can maintain a dense shape and growing habit.
Take out dead, diseased and congested branches to create an open framework.
The tools you use should be kept clean and sharp as they will then cut properly without any damage to branches, thereby leaving the shrub in a healthy state and preventing disease.
Keep on top of any weeds in the borders or on patios and walkways. This may seem like a never ending chore but continual effort on weeds will eventually reduce their growth.
Clean mould from patios and pathways with a patio cleaner such as Best Patio Cleaner. Sika Mould Buster.
Repair and paint wooden fences with wood preservative, also wooden garden furniture, summer houses and sheds. Replace any that are beyond repair.
If you haven’t already done so maintain, clean and sharpen garden machinery and tools, including digging tools, spades, forks etc. It is general good ‘housekeeping’ to keep all your garden tools in pristine working order.
Clean pots and labels.
On warm, sunny days allow some ventilation to the greenhouse to prevent too much humidity or disease. To keep the greenhouse frost free I recommend you get a heater. Check out the Best Small Greenhouse Heaters
Insulate outdoor taps against frost and cold weather.
Clear large amounts of leaf fall from lawns but avoid walking on the lawn when it is frosted or covered in snow as this damages the grass.
Depending on the weather, in mild areas you may still need to mow the lawn, set the mower to a higher setting.
If you won’t be using the mower then clean, repair and service it along with grass strimmers and store safely and securely over winter.
Ensure that sheds and/or garden storage are secure, tools and garden products are valuable, look after them.
What Fruit and Vegetables Can I Grow in December?
Vegetables to sow in December
I am often asked what vegetables to sow in December, there are good number of vegetables that can be sown or planted now for a spring and summer harvest. Providing you have a suitable frost free space such as your greenhouse or porch then have a go ant growing some of the following. There is nothing better than homegrown veg and greens.
SHOP NOW for the following vegetables to sow in December:
- Broad Beans
- Winter Salads
- Pea shoots
- Shooting seeds such as basil or broccoli
Vegetables to Harvest in December for all those celebratory meals:
Flowers to Sow in December
Providing you can maintain suitable temperatures, some seeds can be sown this month in the greenhouse if it is frost free, or use an electric heated propagator or place seed trays on a warm windowsill. Getting a head start now will give you an abundance of homegrown flowers next year for the beds, borders, containers and hanging baskets.
It is very satisfying to grow plants from seeds and when the garden may be snow bound or too wet to work in sowing seeds gives you a garden fix even though you can’t get outdoors.
SHOP NOW for the following flowers to sow in December:
- Sweet peas
What to Plant in December
Cherry trees can be planted now, grow against a sunny wall and train as an espalier if you need to save space. This means that the wall will help guard against frost. A sunny wall also helps fruit to ripen better.
If you have Rhubarb plants, protect the crown with straw or bracken. Place a rhubarb cloche, pot or bucket over it towards the end of December, early January to force the first sweet tasting crop.
Now is the optimum time to plant bare root trees, shrubs and roses.
The ground is still warm and workable. Prepare the ground by digging in well-rotted manure or compost.
Roots have all winter to settle in and establish themselves, thereby promoting strong, healthy shoots in spring.
Planting Preparation for the Future
If you haven’t already planted some hyacinth bulbs or paperwhite narcissisi for an indoor display, you can buy forced bulbs that are ready to bring into the warmth for flowering. Introduce them slowly to a warm area in order for them not to bolt as this produces distorted or small flowers.
Take Root Cuttings from herbaceous plants such as Echinops , Verbascum and Oriental Poppy. My step by step guide shows you how to take root cuttings.
Keep fleece to hand to protect plants in the case of any notice of sharp frosts.
Wrap up exotics and none hardy plants.
Remove old leaves from hellebores to help prevent black spot and so that you can fully see the emerging flowers.
SHOP NOW for autumn flowering bulbs such as:
- Nerrine Bowdenii
- Cyclamen hederifolium
- Hesperanthus coccinea
- Gladioli murielae
Wrap up warm and go out to collect foliage to make festive wreaths and decor. Use natural materials found in the countryside or your garden. Berries, holly, laurel, ivy, fir trees, basically any attractive evergreen foliage. For something a bit different try using purple pittosporum, hydrangea flower-heads, skimmia or Calicarpa berries. Anything that takes your fancy that you have in your garden, there are no hard and fast rules. If you need some more ideas and/or instruction on how to make a wreath check out the Good Housekeeping blog…63 Wreaths
It’s a good way to enjoy some time outdoors even if the weather does not allow for any actual gardening.
Feed the birds, make bird seed feeders with seeds, nuts, berries and fat.
Make habitats and shelter for wildlife. A pile of leaves, a log pile and bug houses all help our garden wildlife.
So now you have a comprehensive list of what jobs to do in the garden in December, let’s get cracking, don’t let the grass grow under your feet. Do these tasks this month and you will be well ahead, ready and prepared for a brand new year and you can put your feet up with a cuppa and a mince pie…enjoy.
Please share with your family and friends who may find this helpful and to encourage them to get out and about in their gardens this December.
Any questions or comments can be added to the comments box below, I always reply to everyone.
Happy Gardening, Happy Winter Solstice