December Gardening.

Frost, rainfall and winds are increasingly common and daylight hours are much reduced. You may not want to be working outside at this time of year, but hopefully there’s not a lot to do! Digging and tree pruning will hopefully keep you warm when you do get a chance to work outside.
The thing I enjoy most about gardening in December is sitting curled up in my favourite armchair with a caramel latte, or indulgent hot chocolate and all the trimmings, and planning my garden for the new year ahead. I like to arm myself with inspirational books, photos I’d taken throughout the year of our garden, and a pencil and notebook for scribbles.
With memories still fresh about what did and didn’t do well this year, you can decide what to change for the better, and what to keep just as it is. Carefully plan your vegetable garden so that you ensure good crop rotation to avoid build up of pests and diseases. Planning ahead and making lists of new plants and features for my garden helps me to be organised. Take an inventory of tools, equipment and gardening books that you would like for next year and add them to you Christmas list!
I start my planning with a sketch of the garden, and draw in the positions of permanent objects like trees, patio and sheds. Then using pictures in books and magazines to inspire, and think carefully about colour combinations, and creating height and interest with contrasting textures and shapes. When choosing the plants take note of the growing conditions then choose species that are adapted for growing to those conditions to avoid disappointment when a carefully chosen plant fails to grow as expected. You can then start adding those plants to your sketch.
Some of the new plants you’ve chosen might be suitable for growing from seed. Growing plants from seeds is not only easy to do, it is one of the cheapest ways to fill your garden with abundance. Very often we think only of growing vegetables from seed, but flower seeds are just as easy to start and you’ll have a greater choice of variety and colour, if you are willing to start your own. When browsing through mountains of seed catalogues it’s easy to get carried away, so stick to your plans. If you still have seed packets left over from last year, look at the dates on the package to make sure the seed isn’t too old to germinate. Some seeds can be sown from January onwards so there is no time like the present to start planning your garden for 2018.
Here are a few jobs to do outside should the weather allow:
• Winter prune Apple and Pear Trees.
• Protect outdoor taps from frost by wrapping insulation around them. Bubble wrap is ideal and probably in plentiful supply if you are ordering Christmas presents over the internet!
• If you have a greenhouse, make sure the heater works.
• Clean and repair your garden tools.
• Take care not to let leaves accumulate around Alpine’s, they will die if left damp.
Whatever you are planning for your garden next season, Paul and I are always available to offer advice, and we look forward to meeting all of your gardening needs in 2018. Have a merry Christmas.
Rachel Sobiechowski BSc (Hons) P&R Garden Supplies, Fengate Drove, Brandon 01842 814800 www.p-rgardensupplies.co.uk

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