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Jobs for December



If you planted up a load of roots and brassicas in June/July then they should be ready to harvest this month. Celeriac, sprouts, leeks and parsnips planted earlier in the year should be ready soon as well. You may find that you’ve still got some purple sprouting broccoli to harvest, as well as turnips planted in early autumn.


Celeriac and carrots should be harvested before the hard frosts.

If you are growing winter salads and leaves they are likely to be harvestable now as we’ve had a relatively mild autumn. Pick outer leaves to use them as cut & come again.

Top tips:

  • Pick sprouts from the bottom of the stalk upwards, only as many as you need, leaving the rest to grow on the stalk (or harvest an entire stalk)

  • If it starts to turn cold and frosty, it’s a good idea to pull up some of your parsnips, leeks and celeriac (and any other roots) before the ground gets too hard and heel them in (see separate blog post below)

Fruit

  • Before the soil is too hard, plant bare-rooted fruit canes and bushes.

  • Divide the rhubarb crowns if they have grown very large.

  • Remove any fruit that is still hanging on the trees - it will rot otherwise.

  • Put grease or grease bands (sold in the allotment shop) on the trunks to protect from winter moth from climbing up and laying its eggs.

Vegetables

  • As last month, you can plant onions, shallots and garlic.

  • if you are growing salad leaves, etc, protect them with fleece or with a cloche.

  • Protect celeriac and globe artichokes with straw if frost is forecast.

General

  • Have a bonfire. Old crops should be cleared up and burnt as they harbour pests and diseases.

  • Collect fallen leaves while they are damp and put them in a plastic sack to rot. Tie the sack up, pierce it a few times with a garden fork and leave it on the soil in a shady place where it won't be disturbed. It will rot down to about a quarter of its bulk. This usually takes a year, when you can just spread this around the base of your choicest plants. They will love it.

  • Dig over the plot (this is terrific exercise and will put you in a good mood), or cover it and leave it to the worms.

  • Make sure empty beds are covered (ideally with a layer of well rotted manure, sheet of cardboard or recycled plastic sheeting) as this will help to improve the soil and warm it for planting potatoes in early spring.

  • Add a mulch to plants that are currently growing to protect them from colder, wetter weather.

  • Cover tender plants with horticultural fleece to keep them frost free.

  • Keep your plot clear of debris as this will greatly reduce the number of slugs and other pests that you have to contend with!

  • Be aware that mild weather will have allowed rats and other rodents to flourish, so take steps to keep numbers down – don’t leave food sources (harvested crops etc), and nesting materials (like straw) lying around the veg patch.