An interesting article in Suffolk & Norfolk Life this month all about gardening in December…
“The nearer the new moon to Christmas Day, The harder the winter weather.”
I often think back to my Christmases as a child, when I would see all the decorations coming out. We never had the Christmas tree in until Christmas Eve and in my early days the Second World War was on so we made do with a lot of hand made decorations. Today we have the choice of wonderful displays of pot plants and cut flowers, which have come in from overseas. But you know, it’s surprising what you can make from a few evergreen sprays from the garden. If you are cutting foliage from the garden do give it a long drink until you are ready to arrange it. When buying flowers try getting them in bud. Put them in water right up to their necks before arranging them. Many people will lose their pot plants by having them in too warm a room or by giving them too much water. The Christmas azalea is the only pot plant I know that can be watered every day so that the roots all remain moist. Stand the pot in a filled bowl for half an hour then tip away the excess.
Some people will say you can’t do much in the garden in December, but as I have said many times we gardeners are always thinking ahead. One thing, have you sent in your seed order yet? Seeds make a nice present for any gardener, so get your list off if you haven’t done so. I know many gardeners who were glad to get in to their greenhouses on Boxing Day to sow their onion seed. If you are a keen showman, exhibition onions should be sown on this day or some exhibitors may have sown them already. Onions like a long time to grow. My father always used to say, “Sow on the shortest day and harvest on the longest day of the year.”
It’s a good time to check vegetables and fruit in store; frost can soon kill our fruit and vegetables in places that are not frost-proof. If we get snow, shake branches to avoid damage that can soon spoil the look of a plant and allow diseases to enter the wood. Collect up leaves as they fall, particularly from the rose bed where overwintering black spot spores will linger. Hand weed the beds or apply a contact herbicide. Lift root crops, such as Jerusalem artichokes and parsnips, a week or two before use, as the soil can soon become frozen.
Also check plants in cold frames; protect them in the severe weather by placing sacking over them at night but remember to remove it the following day so that they can receive maximum light.
Happy Christmas. Enjoy your home, grow vegetables, give a hand with the washing up and look forward to next year’s gardening.
December in the Garden
by Peggy Cole