December in the garden

Even during the winter months there are lots of jobs you can do in the garden to help prepare for next year. Finish off the year with your garden looking good!

1. Bare all

Get bare-root hedges, trees and shrubs in before Christmas if possible.

Bare root trees have an extensive, well developed root system, as a result of being allowed to develop naturally in the field.

When planted during the dormant season, and with care, this root system remains intact, and the trees will establish more readily and will be given the very best chance of survival into the Spring. All our bare root trees and hedging are grown in Ireland.

Skimmia can bring bright and vibrant colour- Source: Pixabay
Skimmia can bring bright and vibrant colour- Source: Pixabay

2. Give your veg the gift of compost

December is a great time to use some of the brown gold in your compost heap and work the goodness into your vegetable patch for next year.

The contents of the compost heap, well-rotted manure or even composted bark can be worked into the bottom of the trench, where the worms will redistribute it to improve soil consistency. If your soil is very heavy, fork over the bottom of the trench before adding the organic matter in a generous layer before turning in the next spit.

Add brown gold to your compost heap
Add brown gold to your compost heap

3. Pick veg and herbs for the festive table

If you have any cabbages or other plants in the cabbage family, make sure that they are protected with garden netting to protect the crop from hungry pigeons!

You can have fresh herbs like mint and chives with your Christmas dinner if you move them indoors now and force them on a windowsill.

Pick some Brussel sprouts for Christmas dinner! Source- Pixabay
Pick some Brussel sprouts for Christmas dinner! Source- Pixabay

4. Beware downy mildew

Watch out for pale blotches and fuzzy grey mould on leaves of winter-flowering pansies that can be symptoms of downy mildew. Affected leaves will turn brown and gradually die.

There are no fungicides available to treat downy mildew so remove infected leaves as soon as the discolouration appears and dispose of them.

Downy mildew on pumpkin leaves

5. Take cuttings now

Take root cuttings of suitable herbaceous plants. Propagating does take patience but the rewards far outweigh the wait. Not all plants are suitable but try some of these: Acanthus, anchusa, Anemone x hybrida, dictamnus, Echinacea purpurea, Geranium endressii, Gypsophila paniculata, Limonium latifolia, Papaver orientale, phlox (not variegated varieties), Primula denticulata, stokesia and verbascum. You can give your green fingers a helping hand with some rooting powder.

Acanthus- Source: Pixabay
Acanthus- Source: Pixabay

6. Put your garden to bed

There’s still a few final jobs worth doing before you put your feet up for Christmas. Check stored fruit and vegetables for signs of pest or disease attack.

Don’t forget that most herbaceous plants shut down completely in winter so add markers and labels to remind you where they are and stop you panicking in the spring.

Give your roses a final check for mildew and if infected spray them immediately with a systemic fungicide like Rose Clear Ultra.

Tuck one or two slug pellets (that is all it takes) around your more precious border plants, since slugs and snails are busy for most of the winter.

Finally, give your garden one last tidy up – collect leaves using your mower (this also helps them break down faster into leaf litter) and add mulch to your borders where needed.

We’re here to help

If you have any questions about your December garden contact us on social media- @CountryLifeGC (Links in footer). If you have a specific problem such as pest damage it’s really helpful to send us a picture- we’d love to help!