Down to earth advice for Derbyshire’s Gardeners - December

Keep lawns, borders and paths clear of fallen leaves on a regular basis, it’s good exercise and helps keep you warm!

Once deciduous plants and climbers have cleared, repair garden structures.Dig over new borders and plant evergreen shrubs if conditions are dry. Plant bare-root roses, trees and shrubs. There should be some bargains in the garden centres at this time of year.

Ensure you have berries for Christmas decorations by netting holly bunches to protect them from birds. Also, net your pond to keep the water clear of leaves.

Order seed catalogues to enjoy over the festive break. Popular varieties can run out, so place your orders nice and early. Try something different next season as an experiment.

Prune bush roses down by half to avoid roots damage in winter winds.

Clear the remains of old crops in vegetable patches. Debris from finished crops can harbour diseases and pests for the following season, particularly blight in potatoes and carrot fly.

In the greenhouse; check the greenhouse heating is working properly. Ventilate whenever there's a sunny day to keep the atmosphere dry and water plants sparingly early in the day.

Tidying; Clean and repair tools and tidy the shed. Sort out any leftover or half-empty seed packets and throw out any that are now out of date or damaged. Saved seeds left to dry can now be cleaned and packaged. If you have enough, a packet of home-grown seeds makes an ideal little gift slipped into a Christmas card.

Wash all pots and seed trays so they are ready for spring sowing.

Remove and burn dead foliage from around roses to help control black spot.

Check for hellebore viral disease ‘black death'; look for black streaking and mottling between leaf veins. There's no cure, so burn affected plants

Plant trees and hedges; as long as the ground isn't frozen.
Consider sowing your onion seed – this was traditionally done on Boxing Day following the excesses of the previous day! Large onions need a long growing season, but make sure you can provide the right follow-on conditions later in the season.

Prune formal deciduous hedges. Cut back the sunny side and top, and trim the shady side next December.  Informal deciduous hedges that have grown leggy can be rejuvenated this month with some radical pruning. Cut every second stem close to ground level. Next year, when new growth has sprouted from the base, the remaining stems can be cut down.

Winter prune apple, pear and quince trees – remove and burn any shoots that show signs of canker.

Plan your planting for the coming year and complete your seed order.

Protect vulnerable plants. Fleece is very effective, but if you prefer something less obtrusive, a circle of wire-netting filled with bracken or leaves will keep the cold at bay.

Cover empty vegetable beds with fleece or clear (not back) plastic, which will warm the soil so it is easier to work.

Bring watering cans and other pieces of kit under-cover. If they have to stay out, turn them upside down to prevent frost damage.

Keep an area of the pond ice-free by partially covering it with boards.


Community Web Kit provided free by BT