December Garden Tips
Many people put their plot to sleep for the winter. They clear out the vegetables that have finished in the autumn and leave it empty doing nothing until the spring. But it is still possible to leave some root crops in the ground, removing them when needed for the table. These include beetroot, carrots, parsnips and turnips.
Have you thought of covering your plot with a membrane? e.g. black plastic, weed control fabric or anything that removes light, perhaps even old carpet. This prevents weeds growing and much goodness leeching away out of the soil.
It is a good time to deep clean and sharpen all of the tools lying in the shed. A thin film of oil appropriately used is recommended for steel tools put away for the winter too.
Outdoor sowing of broad beans is still possible if you choose a hardy variety like ‘Super Aquadulce’.
If you have a greenhouse or window sill, it can give you a tremendous start to next year if, before the end of December, you sow such things as peppers (sweet & chilli), tomatoes & onions from seed.
This is the time of year to begin to plan for next year, send off for the new season’s seed and nursery catalogues. Some time can also be usefully spent looking through the hundreds of company websites and searching the internet to find interesting and new varieties. Don’t be over-ambitious though – only plan for plants where there’s space.
Winter is the best time to dig heavy ground, incorporating manure or compost. If you have a decent sized area, don’t try to do it all at once - you’ve got a good couple of months to finish it all.
Keep everywhere clear of debris, which can harbour diseases and harmful organisms. But try not to be too fussy; old logs and pile of leaves tucked away somewhere are excellent over-wintering spots for essential wildlife.
Reduce the watering of houseplants, and mist them regularly to stop them drying out in the central heating. The ideal is to keep them clustered together in an unheated but light room.
Make leaf mould at this time. Although some leaves begin to fall in September, the time when the bulk of fallen leaves are available is at the end of November and into December. Why not make a clamp with four posts and chicken wire to a container, put all of the leaves you can collect within it. This weed-free soil conditioner is best spread on the ground later in the year.
Words: Transition Chesterfield
Picture: Robert Nixon Betts