Here are my December Gardening Tips for you for the nicer days this winter!
I hope it was a good year for your garden (and for you of course).
Looking back we had a great season in our vegetable garden and it is still supplying us with loads tasty winter vegetables like leeks, kale, swedes, parsnips and winter cabbage. Mustard leaves and arugula are growing well in our greenhouses with a layer of extra protection from garden fleece. Learn here how to use this very handy and useful fabric.
The garden has gone dormant at this stage but there are still a few tasks you can do on a fine day.
Some plants just need to be tamed from time to time so they don't outgrow your garden. It is a good idea to chip the trimmings with a garden shredder. Use the chippings as mulch around shrubs, trees, and beds.
Once the foliage has come of fruit trees like apple, pear or plum you can thin and prune them. Remove broken and diseased branches.
Frost free winter days are ideal to take hardwood cuttings to produce
free plants for your garden. A lot of plants root easily from cuttings
taken this time of the year. Examples would be Hydrangeas, Fuchsias,
Buddleia, Dogwoods, Forsythia, Currants or Privet.
The technique is quite simple. Just cut off some branches of mature wood from this season. Cut into them sticks 6-8 inches long. Try to prune them just below a leaf node (bud). Most of them can only produce roots from there. If you have rooting powder at hand dip the ends into it and insert the cuttings either into pots or soil. A cold frame is a great place to root your cuttings.
The winter is a great time to plant bare-rooted shrubs and trees. These are usually cheaper than the potted plants you buy during the growing season. This makes it much more affordable to plant in bulk. Check your local nursery or garden center for availability. Good candidates for this are native deciduous shrubs and trees like e.g. alder, oak, ash, beech, rowan, elderberries, currants or raspberries.
Do you have some shrubs that just outgrew their spot or that get smothered by other plants? Now is the time to transplant them if the ground is not frozen. Most of them will transplant without a problem. Pruning them back before moving them helps the plants to re-establish because they will lose a lot of their roots in the process. Try and leave as much of the root ball intact as possible. Add some good compost and replant them. Don't forget to water them in to wash the soil in around the roots.
Perennials like can now be lifted, divided and transplanted. This is an easy way to produce more plants for your garden and to keep them vigorous.If you have surplus plants share them with friends and neighbors.
Check potted plants if they need to be watered. Make
sure not to keep them too wet. This can cause fungal molds to thrive and
rot the roots.
Vegetable beds that are not in use can be covered with compost and a layer of mulch. This will keep weeds down and improves soil fertility. They will be in great condition for planting in the spring.
If you have room in your greenhouse you can
plant some potatoes now for a really early crop. We do that every year
and have the first new potatoes in May!
There might still be leaves to be raked up around trees,
on the lawn or driveways. Don't make the mistake to stuff them in a
bag and get rid of them. They are far too valuable for your garden. The
leaves contain plenty of nutrients and can be turned into organic matter
that will help to keep your garden soil fertile. You can either add
them to your compost pile or mulch them on vegetable beds. To speed up
decomposition use a lawn mower to shred them down.