December is a month when we’re all a bit distracted by the mad rush that is Christmas. But take time out to go outside and enjoy a crisp sunny winter’s day in the garden, and you’ll dive back into the festive frenzy newly refreshed. Here are some of the jobs you can be getting on with this month.
- Clear the last of the autumn leaves making sure you fish them out from the middle of shrubs and perennials, where they can cause rotting.
- Float a football in the pond so ice can’t form around it – this makes sure fish and plants can get enough air even in prolonged spells of freezing.
- Fill your windowsills with Christmas houseplants like Christmas cactus, poinsettia and forced hyacinths. They make great presents, of course – but remember to treat yourself to some too!
- Lift up containers onto pot feet to give the excess rainwater somewhere to drain away and ensure your winter displays don’t end up sitting in a chilly puddle.
- Check tree ties on any newly-planted specimens: they grow fast in their first year and ties can get really tight, so loosen off if needed – or if they’re too loose, tighten them up ahead of winter gales.
- Prune apples and pears if they need it – you’ll know because they’re cropping less well and have a crowded centre. Aim to produce an open bowl with five main branches for good air circulation.
- Sow onions from seed towards the end of the month, sowing into module trays in a heated propagator. You’ll find a superb range of onion varieties on our seed racks here at the garden centre in Henley on Thames.
- Cover winter salads with cloches to protect them from the worst of the weather and keep them productive well into spring.