Gardening Jobs for December

  1. Clear the remainder of the leaves, most would have come down already. Last to come down are normally weeping willow leaves followed by the alders.
  2. As with last month make sure your tender plants are protected, either fleeced or brought indoors.
  3. You shouldn’t need to do any hoeing but if you do get the urge be careful not to hoe off any emerging bulbs. It’s easily done, I did it twice last week !
  4. Continue planting deciduous trees and shrubs. It’s a good time for planting both bare root fruit trees and fruit bushes. You can still just about get away with planting any bulbs if you didn’t get time last month.
  5. This time of year is traditionally the best time to prune your apples and pears. Cut off any dead or diseased branches and any crossing branches to keep an open shape. With apple trees I was always told that they should be nice and open so that a pigeon could fly right throw the tree without knocking into any branches. Remember don’t prune cherries, plums and peaches until the spring/ early summer.
  6. Don’t be tempted to feed your plants at this time of year. Most are not actively growing so they don’t need it. Any soft growth that may be promoted could get hammered by the cooler temperatures.
  7. Give your compost heap a good stir to ensure that it gets mixed thoroughly.
  8. Caring for Poinsettias. If you get a poinsettia for Christmas, make sure you keep it well lit, away from draughts and don’t let the temperatures fall below 13 degrees. Don’t over water and let the compost dry out between waterings. To get it to colour up again for next Christmas, cut the stems back to about 10cm in the early spring and then re-pot and water in May. At the start of October cover the plant from the early evening so that it gets 14 hours of darkness. Do this for 8 weeks and then the bracts should turn red. Remember, the key is 14 hours of darkness for 8 weeks.
  9. Clear away any dead anuuals, runner beans, bedding, sweet peas etc.
  10. Dig over vacant areas; the winter frosts should help to break down the soil ready for working in the spring.

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