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December on Your Plot

Harvest

There’s a surprising number of crops that can be available to harvest in December. Winter brassicas such as      Kale, cabbage and cauliflowers - best harvested when ready now.


Any carrots left should come up to prevent pest damage in the ground for storage in damp sand or peat in the shed. Parsnips and swedes can be lifted and stored the same way although they are very hardy and may be left if the ground if not needed. You can always cover them with fleece or straw to help stop the ground freezing them in.


Sowing and Planting in December on the Vegetable Plot:

There’s not a lot you can plant out in December but if you’ve not got round to it, you can plant out garlic and onion sets direct. Garlic benefit from a period of cold, which prompts growth later. Garlic doesn’t like to sit in water so put about an inch of sand into the base and plant the clove on top, filling above with fine compost. This ensures good drainage and stops rotting.


Onions sown towards the end of the month will make excellent plants and bulbs, benefiting from the longer growing period. Sow them in seed boxes or in the greenhouse.


Jobs to Do

Remove any yellowing leaves from your winter brassicas.

Wildlife will be on the lookout for food, especially the pigeons, so keep vulnerable plants like brassicas netted.

It’s a good time for repairing and renovating. There’s always something to do if you look hard enough!

Fruit

Take hardwood cuttings of soft fruit. Gooseberries, red, white and black currants.

It’s a good time to split rhubarb , dig up the old crowns and split from the top down with a spade into three or four. Leave on the surface so they get frosted before planting out in early Spring.

Check that ties and staking are secure for young trees.

You can plant bare rooted fruit trees and bushes in December and prune apple and pear trees.

Mulch any bare soil

Check any plants in frames or greenhouses - remove dead foliage and any signs of mould

Bare rooted plants - now is the time

Remove dead foliage under brassicas to discourage disease and slugs

Prune apples, pears, gooseberries, red/white currants

Don’t forget to clear any weeds still growing - before they set seed

Finish cutting down asparagus to the ground, remove any weeds and then mulch

The traditional treatment of autumn raspberries is to prune out all shoots around this time and wait for the new growth to come in the spring. An alternative is just to tip back the growth now - this will lead to some early fruit on those stems in the summer. You can then prune back the fruiting canes leaving the new spring growth to produce the usual autumn crop.