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Winter Solstice - The Joy of Longer Days

The passing of the winter solstice is certainly something to cheer about with the prospect of longer daylight hours and waking to sunlight once again. The current downpours have turned my garden into a muddy mess and any hope of clearing the remaining leaves and starting to tidy beds has gone out the window.

Time to regroup and plan for the year ahead and the upcoming growing season. Time to clear out that box of seeds, discarding anything out of date or damaged. I have started my list of missing vegetable seeds, new annuals that I wish to try and dragged my catalogues out so I can consider new varieties. I managed to get sweet peas and broad bean seeds sown so hopeful that those will lead to a good crop. I still have a few tulip, iris and allium bulbs to plant but those will need to wait until the ground has firmed up again.

December Jobs to Do

Pruning & tidying are key jobs right now.

  • Check newly planted roses, trees and shrubs to see if they have been loosened by winds or lifted by frost. If this happens, gaps form around the roots causing them to dry out or water to pool near roots. Firm them up again.

  • Prune climbing roses now by removing diseased or damaged growth, crossed stems or those that create too much congestion. Tie in any new shoots to their support. Prune older flowered side shoots back by two thirds of their length.

  • Cut back dead foliage on herbaceous plants that do not support wildlife or winter interest.

  • Continue to weed your borders as they will continue to grow in mild weather.

  • Apply dry mulch around borderline-hardy plants to protect their crowns. Use fleece for other tender plants as the temperatures drop.

  • Now is a good time to plant evergreen shrubs and bare root hedging plants (inc. roses) if conditions are dry and there is a severe frost forecast.

  • Prune open-grown fruit trees and currants.

  • Continue to harvest your winter vegetable crops such as leeks, Brussel sprouts, kale, parsnips and winter cabbage. Make sure they are earthed up and not prone to wind rock.

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