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December marks the first month of Winter and it's a quiet one for our gardens. There is a distinct chill in the air and our thoughts are focusing on the Festive Season ahead. Here are a few top tasks which can be completed this month:
In the flower garden… now is the time for Winter Pruning.
In the kitchen garden… you can still plant out shallots, onion sets and garlic now to give you a bumper crop next season. Prune autumn fruiting raspberry canes down to the ground and keep an eye on any stored produce you have for signs of deterioration. Keep raking and sweeping up fallen leaves to keep the garden looking tidy. Pop these into a bin bag but don't leave them out for the bin men! Put the bag to one side and allow the leaves to rot down creating leaf mould, a wonderful naturally enriched soil improver.
In the plant house… tender plants, which have enjoyed the summer sun, will need protecting, once the mild weather has passed, to ensure they survive the winter. Pop the likes of citrus, tree ferns and succulents indoors, into the glasshouse, into a sheltered corner or wrap them up with fleece to prevent frost damage. Raise any planted containers up onto pot feet to help with drainage and prevent water logging.
In the garden shed… if, like me, you avoided last months task for the shed area, then here it is again! Be brave and turn over those compost heaps and/or clear out those water butts. Get organised and ahead of next season by giving those garden sheds a good old sweep out and tidy on a lovely autumnal sunny day... I guarantee you will be stripping off those winter jumpers and enjoying that autumn sun before you know it!
For the wildlife… as the winter months draw in food and water will become sparse for our feathered friends. Consider incorporating some food rich shrubs into the garden such as cotoneasters, hawthorns, holly or viburnums. Perfect for providing winter berries for a variety of birds. If you've grown sunflowers this year, leave the heads outside for birds to nibble at seeds. Alternatively, nip down to your local garden centre where you will find a huge range of winter treats for our feathered friends. Be sure to keep a bowl of fresh water readily available as well, particularly once the frosts appear.
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