Friday, 16 December 2016

December's Garden Checklist ...

Good Morning!
The days may be grey and chilly but if you're still itching for stuff to do in the garden here are a few things that you can be doing over the coming weeks.

1. Brassicas  - If like me you are growing Brassicas such as Cabbages make sure that you remove any yellowing leaves to prevent fungal diseases taking hold of the plants. Also if your garden is prone to visits from hungry pigeons cover the vegetable bed with netting to keep them off!
If you are growing Brussels Sprouts make sure that they are supported simply by attaching them to a bamboo cane to prevent them toppling over in strong winds.

2. Vegetable Plots - Carrying on with the subject of vegetable plots now is a good time to clear away any old crops and debris from your plots, composting only the healthy material.
Once this is done you can sit and plan what crops you would like to grow and where in 2017 then begin ordering your seeds!
Along with maintaining your veg plots now is also a good time to plant fruit trees as long as the ground isn't frozen or waterlogged. Why not try planting some espalier fruit trees on your veg area to make use of limited space? Now is also the time to do a little bit of winter pruning on your Apple trees by removing any crossing, dead or diseased branches,

3. Soft Fruit - Soft fruit such as Raspberries and Blackberries will benefit from a tidy up around the bases of the plants by removing all weeds and mulching with a layer of compost. Why not include some new plants to your garden too?

4. Terracotta Pots - Most gardeners will have terracotta pots that aren't frost proof and will need some protection from the winter weather. This can be done by simply bringing your pots under cover into a Greenhouse or Shed or if this can't be done by wrapping them up with bubblewrap. 
The pots can crack in freezing weather if not protected properly.

5. Fallen Leaves - Along with collecting fallen leaves for Leaf mould, there are other reasons why they should be gathered up. 
Fallen leaves that are left in place can not only become a cosy place for slugs and pests to congregate but if left on lawns or over plants they will damage what is growing beneath.

6. Planting - Along with planting fruit like suggested above there are other ornamental plants that will benefit from being planted at the time of year. Bare root Roses, Ornamental Trees and Shrubs can all be planted as long as the ground isn't water logged or frozen.

7.Plants Under Cover - If like me you are keeping some plants going through these winter months under cover in a Greenhouse or heated conservatory they will need checking on. 
Make sure that you check them regularly for signs of any over wintering pests such as Red Spider Mite or Aphids on both sides of the foliage and the surface of the compost. Remove straight away if spotted. Yellowing leaves and faded flowers will also need removing right away to prevent Botrytis. Try not to over water the plants too as doing so can also cause problems.

Pelargoniums need overwintering in a Greenhouse

8. Autumn Sown Sweet Peas - If you sowed some Sweet Peas back in Autumn they should be putting on growth by now. Make sure that you pinch out the growing tips on the plants as this will encourage bushier growth which is exactly what you want!

9. Greenhouse Temperatures - If you have a variety of plants over wintering in your Greenhouse make sure that you make a note of the lowest temperate that they can cope with. Most plants will start to suffer when temperatures dip below 0c and will therefore benefit from a little heat. This can be resolved simply by running a heater overnight when low temperatures are forecast and a max / min thermometer inside the Greenhouse is a great way to check that the correct temps are being maintained. 
On the flip side of this temperatures can soar on days where bright sunshine and blue skies are forecast, especially if you don't open any doors or windows! Make sure that you always open them during the day when this weather is forecast (and also for a couple of hours at midday on the days that it isn't) to allow for fresh air to circulate inside and to prevent any fungal diseases taking hold!

9. Garden Birds - Don't forget that garden birds need a little bit of extra help during these colder months too! 
Make sure that you keep a fresh supply of water outside for them (this can be as simple as filling up a gravel tray) and making sure that it doesn't freeze over. Try to keep a constant supply of seeds in any feeders, washing out frequently to prevent any diseases harbouring as this could do serious harm. 
Ground feeder Trays are another good way to feed birds such as Robins which don't like to use hanging feeders, just make sure that you bring the trays inside at night to prevent rats being attracted to the seeds.
Fat balls are also great for them at this time of year but please avoid those that are wrapped in netting or inside stretchy rubber holders as birds can become tangled in these, leading to death.

10. Garden Equipment - Finally don't forget to bring inside any hosepipes or garden furniture that could crack and split in freezing temperatures, provide some insulation to your garden tap too otherwise you run the risk of damaging a pipe.
Now is also the perfect chance to clear out any garden sheds and clean up your garden tools if you haven't done so already!

Thanks for stopping by, don't forget you can find all the previous Checklists on the page tab above.

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