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Garden Tips For December 2017 Dec 06

Festive Greetings and £10 off Budget Composter.

The Festive Month of December often offers mild days when various jobs can be tackled in the garden without being dressed in arctic weather attire. Understandably the tips being offered this month are limited.

The cold weather has few advantages but here is one. Any remaining leaves can now be swept up and the garden tidied before Christmas. The leaves will have been dried out by the cold making them easy for collection and burning if you have a garden incinerator. Cold also gets rid of a lot of unwanted bugs and pests.

If the ground is not too hard winter digging either the hard way with a spade/fork or somewhat easier with a cordless rotavator will save you time and energy in the New Year. This may be difficult with the ground currently so hard but if we get a few consecutive milder days you could dig over the empty vegetable beds which will then add oxygen to the soil and prevent compaction. Sharp well oiled tools are a must.

In the unlikely event of a heavy layering of snow make sure that you knock off as much as possible to avoid branches breaking off with the wight of the snow. Surprisingly there are some plants and shrubs that survive the cold well so you need not worry too much about viburnums, hellebores, wisteria, sinensis and some hydrangeas but make sure you leave the dead heads on as protection. Cordyline palms especially if mature should be alright - the last time my palms were decimated was in 1987.

Greenhouse - clean out any remaining crops and wash down the glazing and staging work surfaces. An effective but cheap cleaning solution is to mix into a hot bucket of water a bottle of cheap vinegar with a dash of washing up liquid. If you have a larger greenhouse make sure you tackle it in stages wiping down to dry before moving on to the next section.

Protect plants and pots from frost by bringing them indoors or by wrapping them in horticultural fleece. For larger ornamental pots and urns containing plants an old blanket or rug will suffice.

Feed the birds. Keep the feeder well stocked and out of reach of predators.You may wish to offer a selection of different foods which would attract a variety of birds and you can then monitor which foods your garden birds prefer. We have a good choice of sturdy wooden birdtables & terracotta bird feeders -follow the link http://bit.ly/2BnOg1h 

Carry on digging over beds and borders and incorporate as much organic matter as you can. Forking over not only helps prepare the soil for next year, it helps reduce pests by exposing them to hungry birds.

Check stored fruit and vegetables for signs of rot and promptly dispose of any affected.

Stake or earth up Brussels sprouts to prevent wind rock. Continue harvesting kale, parsnips, leeks and Brussels sprouts.

Midwinter is the best time to prune edible and ornamental vines to prevent bleeding of the sap from the cut stems.

Orchids such as Phalaenopsis and poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) require a minimum temperature of 16-19C (60-66F), but do not position them close to radiators, open fires or draughts.

Insulate outside plumbing. Store watering attachments indoors or make sure they are drained.

Tidy up sheds and clean pots and trays making them ready for the next season.

Protect pots and taps from frost by wrapping insulation around them. Bubble wrap is ideal and probably in plentiful supply if you are ordering Christmas presents over the internet!

Clear paths of moss and lichen, treat timber with preservative, repair fences, check sheds and walls (but avoid any concreting until there is no chance of frost), clean and insulate greenhouses (that bubble wrap again!) and ensure heaters are working properly. Even a little insulation will make a huge difference to your heating bill.

Clean and repair your garden tools and clock the lawn mower in for a service. New tools are always a welcome present, as are new gardening gloves.....especially good quality ones.

Clear debris - this is vital to prevent slugs and snails from setting up home in those lovely warm and damp conditions! However, a plea for wildlife... an artless pile of sticks and logs will make a wonderful ‘des res’ for hibernating hedgehogs and the like, so please don’t be too ferocious on the tidying front. Make leaf mould out of fallen leaves - they will rot down into fantastically fertile matter after a year (2 for oak leaves). Store wet leaves (they must be wet to rot) in large black plastic sacks forked with holes or piled into a chicken wire container or similar. Failing that, add them to the compost bin.

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Finally if all else fails and you can't face going in the garden there is a huge range of gardening books to browse or study to give you inspiration  for next year.

Wishing you a Happy Christmas and Enjoyable Gardening in 2018!

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