Jo’s Garden Corner – December
Remove fallen leaves from lawns, pond and borders. Take hardwood cuttings of Berberis, buddleja, Salix and Forsythia. Improve clay soils by incorporating organic matter such as composted bark and well-rotted farmyard manure as long as the soil is not too wet. Move any trees and shrubs that are growing in an unsuitable position. If they have been growing for several years make sure you remove a large enough root-ball to avoid root disturbance. Protect borderline hardy plants with protective mulch and protect newly planted hedges from wind and cold by using a temporary windbreak. Check that tree ties are secure. In the vegetable garden stake any Brussel sprout stalks that are leggy and vulnerable to wind rock. Remove any plant debris to help prevent the spread of disease. Dig vacant areas and add organic matter ready for planting next year. Prune Apple, Pears, Quinces and Medlars. Continue to harvest Turnip, Swedes, Parsnips, Celery, Brussel sprouts and Beetroot but Parsnips can be left in the ground until needed. Check stored apples regularly. Plant new fruit bushes and trees but delay planting if the ground is waterlogged or frozen. Prune autumn raspberries as well as red and white currants and gooseberries. For our feathered friends clean out birdbaths and bird feeders and remember to keep birdbaths topped up and ice free. Refill bird feeders, all feeds including peanuts are safe as the breeding season is now over. Remove snow by brushing on evergreens, conifers, climbers and light limbed plants to stop splaying and spoiling the shape. Look through catalogues, plan and order seeds for next season. Place fallen leaves on the compost heap or in separate pen for rotting down into leaf mould shredding first or mowing will help speed up the process. Dig bare patches of earth or newly cultivated land to expose many pest larvae and eggs to birds and frost. Make sure all the winter protection is in place to help the plants through the worst of the winter weather.