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Some gardening jobs to do in December
4 Dec

Some gardening jobs to do in December

Posted By: rocket veg Category: Seasonal Tips

Ever decreasing hours of daylight and low temperatures: December is not the best of months for gardeners, but there are crops to harvest and jobs to do which will warm you up on the coldest of days.

Soft fruit

Now is the perfect time to prune established soft fruit bushes and plant new ones if need be. The stems (‘canes’) of autumn fruiting raspberries will be have shed most of their leaves and can be cut back to soil level.

Blackcurrant bushes should be thinned out by cutting approximately a third of the stems off low down; select the oldest stems with the darkest wood. Red and white currant bushes are pruned by reducing the main stems by a third, rather than removing stems completely.

Gooseberry bushes need to have an open structure, so remove any stems which are clogging up the centre of the bush. Aim to remove about a third from each of the main stems which will encourage new growth in spring.

When pruning soft fruit bushes, the overall aim is to create an open structure so as to allow the maximum amount of sunlight and air to get to the centre of the plants. Cut out any dead or diseased stems and treat each plant by heaping a good layer of mulch in the form of manure, rotting leaves, homemade compost etc around the base.

Rhubarb

Rhubarb is now in its dormant period, so crowns can be lifted and divided - a good way of reinvigorating old, less productive plants - or new crowns planted, on days when the ground is not frosted. Once out of the ground, an old crown can be chopped into chunks with a spade and the best one replanted and then topped with a thick layer of manure to give the plant a real boost.

Winter pests

Given half a chance, pigeons will cause major damage to brassicas, selecting the tasty young leaves in the centre of the plant. Throwing a length of netting over the plants will act as a deterrent but it is better to raise the netting on a simple structure of canes so that pesky pigeons are unable to reach any of the foliage.

While you are dealing with your crop of tasty cabbages, remove any leaves which show signs of yellowing or have mottled patches on them as these are likely to attract tiny insect pests as well as harbouring disease, both of which will reduce the plant’s life and crop.

Food for the festive season

The best bit of growing vegetables is when the time comes to harvest your crops! The hard work which you put in a few months ago – preparing the soil, sowing seed, watering young plants and keeping weeds at bay – should now be repaying you with dividends in the form of sweet parsnips, thick stemmed, pale green leeks and firm Brussels sprouts. Wait until your sprouts reach an inch or more in diameter and the leaves are still in a tight ball before twisting them from the stem.

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