December Grower's Calendar

Preparation

Continue digging over cleared vegetable beds and adding well rotted compost or manure. Get Educated – book yourself on a course over the winter! Start a Gardening Diary (gardeners have great plans but bad memories). Start planning what you would like to grow next year including at least one previously untried vegetable. Work out what crop rotation system you are going to use. Study and compare the various seed catalogues carefully before deciding on the best varieties to grow to suit your needs. Start a Compost corner or heap. If you don't already have one, plan a fruit garden/area to include at the very least some soft fruit like raspberries, strawberries, gooseberries and currants; and some fruit trees like apple, plumb and pear.

To do List

  • Good garden hygiene helps greatly in the prevention of disease carry-over from one year to the next so remove yellowing leaves from any crops remaining and rake up fallen leaves.
  • Slugs are a problem year round so slug control remains a necessity (though actual slug patrols probably don't).
  • It's particularly important to keep them in check in the polytunnel or greenhouse.
  • Mice can be a problem at this time of the year and crops sown in the ground like broad beans, garlic etc can be vulnerable. Protect them under cloches.
  • It's a good time of the year to add lime to your beds (particularly the ones that will take brassicas next year), so buy a pH testing kit if you don't already have one, and test your soil.
  • Keep an eye on your stored veggies and discard anything that's rotting.
  • Do interesting things with leaves! Store in bags to make leaf mould or use as cover for bare soil (keep weeds down and prevents drying out).

Sowing Seeds and Planting Out

If you haven't already done so plant garlic – it should be in the soil by the shortest day of the year. Bring herbs like mint, chives, lemon balm, parsley, thyme indoors by lifting and potting them up. Chicory can be forced - dig up the roots, pot them up and place them in a dark warm place. The chicons should appear in about a month.

Harvesting – what's in season?

In general terms it's back to winter vegetables (and stores, if you have them) but you can try bucking the seasonal trend by continuing to harvest winter salad leaves (if you were canny enough to plant them!) like corn salad, land cress and mizuna. You should still have at least some produce left in the December garden for example, winter cabbages, Brussels sprouts (of course), leeks, kale, Jerusalem artichokes, carrots, celery, turnips, parsnips, winter cauliflowers, swedes and celeriac. Continue to harvest spinach and chard, and from your stores you can enjoy pumpkins and squashes, potatoes, onions, apples, beetroot and garlic. Happy Christmas!