Posts Tagged ‘december’

What NOT to do in the garden in December

December 13th, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

©Jans Canon. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

What should we be doing in the garden in December? Well, the books and magazines have some pretty mad ideas.

“Sow begonias” No. The chance of the tiny seedlings damping off is pretty much 100%. Wait.

“Prune summer flowering shrubs and roses” No. A few mild days will prompt new growth that will be frosted as soon as we get a cold snap. Shorten them to prevent wind rock, yes, but leave the final pruning till later.

“Replace worn turf at the edges of lawns” No. As soon as we get a hard frost the turf will curl up and dry out.

“Protect carnations with black cotton against birds.” What?! Apart from the fact that so much cotton is now synthetic and not actually cotton at all and is too tough for even a big fat pigeon to break if it gets tangled, I’ve never seen a bird do anything to a carnation except eat a few aphids off the buds.

“Treat tulip clumps with a contact weedkiller and then a weed preventative.” Really? How many clumps of tulips do you have? How long will it take to pull out any weeds by hand? And how long will it take you to go to the garden centre, hunt for safe weedkillers and weed preventers, come home and treat the weeds? Need I say more?

“Spray rhododendron buds with bird deterrent”. No. Bird deterrents are for buildings, not buds, and not even the “Buy this item and get 90 days Free Amazon Music Unlimited” will tempt me.

“Cover ground around newly planted camellias and rhododendrons with 12in of straw to prevent roots being frozen.” How’s your straw supply holding up? Got pet rabbits? How long do you intend to spend collecting the straw from the four corners of the garden where the wind has dumped it?

So, take what you read about December jobs with a little scepticism, And, if in doubt as to whether you should do it now or at all: probably – don’t. Except:
“Feed the birds.” Yes. In winter, it’s essential

What to do in the garden in December

December 1st, 2016 | The flower garden, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

December bulbs

December is traditionally one of the quieter months in the flower and vegetable garden. Winter vegetables really come into their own now, especially once parsnips and brussels sprouts have had a frost or two to improve their flavour. While most spring-flowering bulbs should already be in the ground, there is still time to plant tulips, which actually benefit from this later planting. Many are well suited to growing in containers too.

Remove all plant debris from round the garden or on the allotment, as fallen foliage and the like encourage pests and diseases to over-winter and cause us problems next spring and summer. This is particularly important if you grow roses.


December - Sweet PeasIf you made a sowing of sweet pea seeds back in October and have them in the greenhouse or a cold frame, pinch out the growing tip after two pairs of leaves have formed; this will encourage the development of side-shoots and bushy growth through the winter, and stop the young plants becoming ‘leggy’. They will then make steady progress and be ready for planting out early next spring.

House plants make attractive features through the dark winter months. The compost of azaleas should be kept wet, but never saturated. Poinsettias, on the other hand, should have compost which is only just moist. If you are yet to buy these Christmas favourites, always choose plants from stock which has been kept in warm spot indoors in a shop; never buy plants from outside, as they will not thrive when you get them home, and may well die.

Where containers planted for winter displays are close to the house or other buildings, check them regularly to see whether they are receiving enough moisture from rainfall. If not, water them to prevent the compost drying out. It can be easy to forget them at this time of year because they tend not to need as much watering as summer containers.

Keep a look-out for pale blotches and grey mould on the foliage of violas and pansies, as these are the symptoms of downy mildew. The affected leaves will gradually die. Unfortunately, there is no chemical treatment. Remove infected leaves as soon as the discolouration appears.December - Pansy 'Cool Wave Mixed'

If the weather remains relatively mild this month, you may see that some spring-flowering bulbs start to show above ground already. In fact we have noticed this happening already! There is no need to be concerned about this, because as the weather becomes colder their rate of growth will slow accordingly and they will still flower when we expect them to.


December - First early potato DivaaMay we remind you that it is not too early to order seed potatoes, especially if you are keen to grow particular varieties. We begin despatch from January 2017 onwards. Please have a look at our new varieties. Elfe is a second-early with yellow flesh and a rich, almost buttery flavour; it’s really great for making mash or for baking. Gemson is another second-early, and we recommend this for its large crop of smaller tubers. It boasts the famed Maris peer as one of its parents, and has excellent disease resistance. The tubers have a firm, creamy flesh, and are perfect for steaming, boiling and as a salad potato. White and pink-skinned Pink Gypsy is a maincrop, and this one is particularly versatile, being superb for mashing, baking and roasting.

If you enjoy growing large onions, whether for the kitchen or for the showbench, do consider trying our new variety called, simply, Exhibition; this splendid strain was bred in East Anglia from The Kelsae, the most famous of all onions. It produces large, flask-shaped bulbs with a golden skin colour and a deliciously mild, sweet flavour. It can reach 454gm (1lb) in weight with very little care, but considerably larger specimens are achievable with a little ‘TLC’. Seed of Exhibition can be sown in gentle warmth from December through to February. It’s well worth growing!

Now is a good time to dig over any part of the vegetable garden or allotment which is not in production. This is best done when the soil is not too wet and certainly never when it is frozen. Dig to a spade’s depth (a spit), and leave the soil in clods as it falls to be broken up by frost and rain action in the weeks ahead.


December - Raspberry Polka canes from Mr Fothergill'sAutumn-fruiting raspberries can now be pruned back virtually to ground-level. This will allow next spring’s new shoots to develop strongly, allowing them to flower and fruit next autumn. If you like the idea of some summer raspberries from the same plants, leave two or three of the strongest canes tied into the framework, and these will provide you with some tasty summer berries ahead of the autumn harvest.

This is the best time to give fruit trees and bushes that have been subject to attacks by pests such as aphids a spray with a ‘winter wash’; this should see off any over-wintering pests and their eggs. Modern winter washes use surfactants and natural oils, rather than being tar-based like the old-fashioned remedies. This treatment should mean a healthy start to next year’s growing season. Winter washes are available from good garden centres.