December in the Garden
We don’t heat our greenhouse and anything that we are growing in there needs extra protection when the temperature drops. We have fleece and bubble wrap at the ready to drape. You don’t want to flatten anything growing so we have a ‘Heath Robinson’ frame in place to keep the fleece just above the seed trays! If you are using cloches or a cold frame then you simply put your extra covers over the top – newspaper and old blankets or carpet work well but remember to take them off in the daytime as your little plants need the light! You can then use these places for winter salads (endive, cool season lettuce such as Cantarix, Merafiglis D’Inverano S. Martino or Till, almost all our baby leaves, Orach, Mustard leaves, Shungiku & Tokyo Bekana, Parsley, any rocket variety, Spinach Harp or Giant Winter, Pea Douce Provence and Sweet Peas. We have a little trio of suitable choices for you to try in our special offers. Another crop you could consider is onions and we have a lovely quartet for those who want to get an early start. If you can provide steady warmth then the hotter chilli varieties and aubergines can be added to your list.
Any bright sunny (very cold) days will see me trying to get a little bit of time outside. Generally I will keep warm with a little bit of digging – but if it is clumping on to your boots than it is better to leave it alone as you are squashing the soil and the wet adds a lot of weight. Gathering leaves is another job for a sunny day.
Whilst the greenhouse is relatively empty cleaning the glass is a bit easier. I use a scrubbing brush and warm soapy water but a carefully wielded pressure washer would be faster. Cloches and coldframes will also benefit from a scrub to let more light through.
I have talked about sowing and protecting crops but remember to ventilate on sunny days – cold and damp can encourage mould and a bit of airflow will help.
Hungry pigeons can take a huge chunk out of your brassica crops, if they are being eaten you will have to net them as pigeons just don’t seem put off by dangling shiny CDs. Whilst you are netting take a moment to check for wind rock on tall or top heavy plants – Brussel sprout and cauliflower are the most likely victims and you may need to stake some of your plants if they have started to lean over.
Come rain (sleet, heail, snow) or shine there is always the joy of gathering fresh food – I have my eye on some tasty cabbages, kale, leek, celeriac, parsnips & carrots… if your garden isn’t full of delicious choices then let yourself indulge with our winter veg feast!
Finally if the soil is too wet to dig then I might turn to the compost heap and dig that over as I can stand on a path! You are advised to cover your compost heap so it doesn’t get too wet at this time of year. I have admit we don’t because the chickens love digging on the heap – unhappy hens don’t lay eggs and they are very crotchety if we stop them getting to the heap! I would rather they were happy in the sunshine… and whilst the sun is shining I am off outside to find something to do!