December is a great time to prepare for next year by digging new beds or just relaxing with spot of armchair gardening.
December in the Garden.
Days are short in December. In fact 21st December is the shortest day of the year with just a few hours of daylight. When we do have a lovely sunny day with clear sky it’s a great opportunity to get out into the garden and see what’s happening.
December is a great time to prepare for next year… either physically or mentally. I’ll be digging borders and vegetable beds and planting trees, shrubs and hedges. I will also be doing a spot of armchair gardening, just sitting in front of a roaring fire with my gardening books and seed catalogues and making a few plans.
I know that if I can summon up the energy to get outside it’s well worth it. I always manage to do a few little jobs and it makes me feel so much better. Scientists have discovered that just 15 minutes a day outside connecting with nature in some way does something to our brain which makes us feel much happier. 🙂
It’s the start of preparation for next year. As long as the ground isn’t frozen or waterlogged the soil is workable so it’s time to prepare new beds, plant new trees or shrubs and mulch them. If you would rather not dig then mulching is the best alternative.
What’s a mulch?
It’s a thick layer of organic material such as garden compost (at least 4″ or 10cm deep) spread around the plants in autumn to protect them from the worst winter weather. There’s no need to dig it in as worms will pull it down into the soil over the next few months. Mulches help to improve soil fertility and texture. In summer a mulch can be applied after a good soaking to keep the moisture in.
Here are the top gardening jobs for December which will really make a big difference to your garden and your happiness levels!
- Tidy your garden before winter sets in. Your garden creatures need food and shelter so don’t be too tidy!
- Collect the last of your autumn leave to make leaf mould. Store them in a wire bin or just collect them in punctured bin bags.
(You could also do what I do and use the last few leaves to add to some gorgeous flowers.)
- Take hardwood cuttings of your deciduous shrubs such as buddleja, cornus and roses.
- Dig over empty areas and prepare new borders. This is much easier now the ground is moist.
- Plant new trees and shrubs and hedges – bare root plants are available in December and they are very easy to plant.
In the greenhouse:
- Order flower seeds for planting in 2019. If you are itching to get going there’s not long to wait now… you can start start sowing seeds indoors in January. Sweet Peas, Perennial Sweet Peas, Hardy Annuals and some Half Hardy Annuals such as Cobaea scandens, Antirrhinum and Cleome all do well from an early sowing.
- If you haven’t planted your autumn bulbs yet then plant them now. December is the latest you can plant any Tulip bulbs you’ve been holding on to. They may flower later than usual but they will flower.
- Put food out for the birds every day. They like seeds, nuts, fruit and fat.
UK Weather in December
Snow and Ice
December is usually a cold month in the UK, especially when biting winds blow in from the Arctic. You may have noticed that winters have become milder over the past 50 years with more rain than snow. It’s mild but it’s still quite likely that somewhere in the UK we’ll have some snow, with fog, gale force winds and temperatures well below freezing this month.
Fifty Shades of Grey Days
Everywhere in the UK can expect plenty of cloud and gale force winds each December. Sunshine is in short supply this month with most places receiving just 50 hours or less of sunshine.
Here’s the good news:
- Prolonged cold temperatures will kill your garden pests and diseases.
- Frost action helps to break down the soil improving any winter digging you have already done.
- When snow does fall it rarely sticks around for long.