Growers Corner: December
As we enter the winter season, Julie Smith shares her top growing tips for keeping gardens vibrant during cold, grey months.
Plant your garlic: Garlic is best planted around the shortest day of the year (21 December). Plant each clove at a depth of 2.5 cm and space them about 15 cm apart in good quality, soft soil. I like ‘Early Purple Wight’ and ‘Germidour’.
Chop it down: Cut down asparagus foliage and the top growth of Jerusalem artichokes. Use the cuttings to mulch the plants over winter. Cut off all the yellowing leaves from your brassicas to promote fresh new growth and avoid pests.
Protect your cabbages: Be wary of hungry pigeons in the winter! Cover your prized cabbages with a net or a fruit cage to avoid any disappointment. Make sure the top and sides of your plants don’t touch the net.
Prune your apple and pear trees: Once all the leaves have fallen, sharpen your secateurs and get pruning. Prune first for health and then for productivity. If you’re pruning more than one tree, don’t forget to wipe down your secateurs to avoid spreading disease.
Plan for next year: Sit down and plan for next year’s garden. Look at where to place each family of vegetables, and decide what you’d like to grow based first on what you like eating. You’ll find great seeds on The Real Seed company website.
Look after wildlife: Winter is a tough one for our smaller garden friends, help them by providing food and water. Get bird seeds or fat balls, and make sure the water you provide doesn’t freeze over.
Plant your bare root trees and bushes: Dig a hole twice as wide as you think, then drop the bare rooted plant in. Add some mycorrhizal fungi (a naturally occurring fungi that lives in symbiosis with plants and increase their root’s reach) and fill the hole with a mix of the soil you took out and good quality compost. While you fill the hole, gently shake the tree to avoid any big air holes. Once filled in, heel the soil in by walking on it, and mulch with a thick layer of woodchip. Water only if the temperature is above freezing point.
Read more: Support the Soil, how and why