Frost, rainfall and winds are common, and it can be bitter with a risk of snow. You may not want to be working outside at this time of year, but luckily there’s not a lot to do!
One crop that is best planted in winter is Garlic. Garlic is best planted between November and April, although the general rule is that the sooner the crop is planted the bigger the crop will be. Garlic prefers to be grown in full sun in a light, well drained soil (our sandy soil is perfect!), adding in some organic matter such as compost or well rotted manure will provide essential nutrients. Carefully split the bulb into individual cloves and plant each clove 2.5cm (1 inch) below the soil surface with the pointed end facing up. Plant each clove 4 inches apart in rows 12 inches apart. You may find birds are tempted to pull garlic out of the ground so it’s a good idea to cover the area with netting. Garlic needs a cold period to grow successfully so there is no need to protect the bulbs from frost. There are many different varieties of garlic however the group can be split into 2 different types, Hard neck or Soft neck, this simply refers to the way in which the garlic grows. Hard neck varieties produces a flower stem, called a ‘scape’ which can be removed and used in salads and stir fries. Soft neck varieties do not produce a flower stem and have better storage qualities than hard neck types. Garlic is an easy crop to grow and is generally trouble-free. There are however two diseases which you may find on your garlic crop. Rust appears as spots on the leaves, there is no cure apart from avoiding growing garlic in the same place for 3 years. Garlic can also be affected by white rot, which decays the roots and the bulb, again there is no cure except crop rotation. Keep your garlic plot watered and weed-free and you will be rewarded with a high yielding crop.
The most popular Christmas houseplant is Poinsettias. When you purchase indoor plants at this time of year, especially poinsettias, request a paper sleeve or sack be placed around the plant for protection against cold temperatures. Take your plants straight home and remove the paper. Display poinsettias away from heat sources or cold drafts. Keep the soil consistently moist, but not soggy. Dropping leaves are usually a sign that the soil is dry.
Top Tips for December:
- Keep live Christmas Trees well watered, they can drink up to 1 litre a day.
- Check winter protection is securely in place and that greenhouse heaters are working.
- Remove leaves that accumulate around Alpine’s to prevent rot.
Whatever you are planning for your garden next season, Paul and I look forward to meeting all of your gardening needs in 2016. Have a merry Christmas.
Rachel Sobiechowski BSc (Hons) P&R Garden Supplies, Fengate Drove, Brandon 01842 814800 www.p-rgardensupplies.co.uk