Gardening Tips for December

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 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 where you can 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.

Transition Chesterfield is now able to take online orders and payment for potatoes and seeds for collection at their 2018 Potato Day (January 27th). There are 40 varieties of potato, sold by tuber number not weight, plus onion sets, shallots (both sold by weight), garlic (varieties suitable for late winter planting), plus pea and bean seeds. The website address is: http://www.potatoday.org.uk (if you’re going to grow potatoes, start collecting egg boxes to chit the tubers in). Pre-ordering at discount prices for collection on Potato Day will close on 6th December 2017.

At the Inspire Community Garden we are holding a ‘Tree Dressing Day’ on Sunday 3rd December which is an annual opportunity to celebrate trees, to raise awareness of the value of trees, and provides an opportunity for people of all ages and cultures to come together and give thanks to the humble tree. It is open to all ages, you can either bring along your own decoration and we will help you hang it on our tree or make a decoration on the day to hang on our tree or take home and hang on your own tree. See inspirecommunitygarden.org.uk