December

There is barely anything left in the flower border except Winter Jasmine, but you are unlikely to see a bee or butterfly abroad this month. The birds, mammals and insects are now foraging for food taking seeds and berries where they find them. If permitted hang up a fat-ball or peanut feeder and enjoy the spectacle of birds snacking on them. A large sunflower head hung up will feed many tits for quite some time.

ESSENTIAL JOBS

Continue digging when the weather permits, with your friendly Robin by your side grabbing grubs as you unearth them.

You can coppice willow and hazel between now and February, saving the stems for basket weaving or pea-sticks or herbaceous-perennial supports. If you can spare one or two spray them silver or white and use them as part of your festive decorations

Maintenance

Fit water butts to catch winter rain from the rooves of sheds, greenhouses, garages, conservatories and your home. An 8 foot by 6 foot shed will yield a harvest of 10 x 210 litre water butts during the winter. Harvest the water now and have it on tap when you need it.

Trees

Plant bare-rooted fruit trees and fruit bushes if you haven’t already.

Prune back over hanging branches that are in the way and add to the log pile.

Wrap up tender fruiting trees like Olives

Winter prune apple, pear and plums trees (until the end of January)

Check tree ties and stakes aren’t chaffing the bark ready for the winter winds.

Flowers

Keep dead heading, only joking, it is only the autumn heathers that need dead heading this month.

Go for a walk and gather cones and branches and spray them to make festive decorations.

Vegetables and Fruit

Harvest sprouts starting from the bottom.

Prune Gooseberry side-shoots back to about 5 cms.

It is traditional to plant garlic on Christmas Day before dinner.

Harvest the new potatoes from the potato grow bags planted in September/ October in the greenhouse.

Indoors

Sharpen tools, wash pots, clean canes and tidy up.

Settle down with the seed catalogue and check your list again.

Relax and enjoy Christmas and New Year.