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WAHGA - Jobs for December




Well, that was a very wet November!  And now swiftly moving into December the daylight  hours are getting shorter and shorter, but just a few hours spent on the allotment at this time of year will not only warm you up and reward you with some tasty crops - you'll  reap the benefits next year too. There are plenty of crops to harvest in December, some of which could be destined for festive plates. And in the garden it’s a brilliant time to plant bare-root fruit and shrubs.



ROOT CROPS

  • Plant onions, shallots and garlic.  The shortest day, December 21st, is the traditional day for planting garlic!

  • Earth up parsnips and harvest as and when you need them. Pull off the leaves that are touching the ground from the sides of celeriac roots Dig and store any remaining potatoesHarvest turnips, swedes and carrots

  • You may find that you’ve still got some purple sprouting broccoli to harvest, as well as turnips planted in early autumn.

BRASSICAS

  • Harvest sprouts from the bottom up - the more mature sprouts lower down on the stalk may be ready to twist off now. Alternatively, you can harvest an entire stalk and stand it in a cold, dry room/shed.

  • You may still have some broccoli to harvest

  • Keep kale, winter cabbages and other brassicas covered with netting to protect them from hungry pigeons. Remove any yellowed leaves, so that fungal diseases such as grey mould and downy mildew don't take hold.For any brassicas that are over, take off the net, leave them to the birds to eat, or chop them up and pop them in the compost bin.

SALAD AND LEAF CROPS

Check spinach and chard for leaf spot (chocolate coloured spots on the leaves) and remove any leaves that are badly affected to try and minimise spread.Protect salad leaves with fleece or a cloche. Pick outer leaves to use them as cut and come again.


FRUIT

  • Divide the rhubarb crowns if they have grown very large.  Spare crowns will go quickly if you put them on the allotment Sharing Table!

  • Remove any fruit that is still hanging on the trees and use any not suitable for humans to feed birds and wildlife

  • Plant bare root soft fruits such as raspberries, currants and gooseberriesPlant bare root fruit trees - check any rules if planting on an allotment

GENERAL 

  • Collect fallen leaves while they are damp and put them in a sack or heap to breakdown, you’ll be amazed at the number of worms involved in the process. 

  • Remove weeds in your garden and allotment.

  • 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 protect and improve the soil over the winter and warm it for planting 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/garden clear of debris as this will greatly reduce the number of slugs and other pests that you have to contend with!

WILDLIFE GARDENING JOBS FOR DECEMBER

There's plenty you can do to help wildlife, from feeding the birds and keeping your bird bath topped up. 

  • Clean bird feeders regularly to avoid disease spreading, bird flu being a major risk currently.  Fill with fat-rich food such as peanuts, suet products and sunflower hearts. The short days and cold nights mean that every calorie counts for garden birds – they use huge amounts of energy just staying warm at night.

  • Clean bird baths regularly and replace water daily. Bathing allows birds to regulate the oils in their feathers, enabling them to control their temperature more efficiently.

  • Leave leaf piles in place and don’t turn your compost heap to avoid disturbing any species which might be  hibernating or sheltering.  This can include hedgehogs, mice, slow worms, toads and even bees and over insects.Leave seed heads, rose hips and berries for wildlife to eat.

  • Make an insect hotel using an old wooden box filled with logs with holes drilled into them, bamboo canes and the stems of other hollow-stemmed plants such as teasel and sunflower.

  • Plant native shrubs or trees such as hawthorn, holly, hazel, silver birch and guelder rose, which will provide a mix of flowers for pollinators, berries for birds and leaves for caterpillars (and therefore food for baby birds).

  • Check that any structures such as sheds and poly tunnels are waterproof and storm ready. Netting can catch birds and small mammals so make sure that the nets are sufficiently taut and tied in to avoid this.

IN THE GARDEN

With so many herbaceous perennials still flowering through November I’ve delayed cutting them back, but now is the time to cut back penstemon, salvia, rudbeckia, anemone, canna and other summer flowering plants.  There’s still plenty of time to plant spring flowering bulbs and you can get some bargains on-line and in garden centres.  


Bare root planting season has started, the perfect time to plant bare root shrubs, trees and hedges.  

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