December Gardening Calendar
This December gardening calendar has been created by the experts here at Mantis UK to help you care for all aspects of your garden in the lead up to Christmas. While your garden doesn’t require as much work as during the summer, you should still remember to carry out a few simple steps to ensure your garden is in top condition next season. This gardening guide contains advice on how to care for your lawn, fruit and veg care, and advice for maintaining your garden tools.
Lawn Care in December
Keep mowing Maintaining your lawn in winter is important to prevent any lasting damage, so you should keep mowing (weather permitting) if your grass is still growing due to mild conditions. It is also advisable to mow on a high setting to ensure roots are protected from harsh weather conditions.
Remember to aerate and dethatch if you haven’t already done this. The lawn care packages for your Mantis Tiller are ideal for this job as it contains a dethatcher and aerator tines. You should also try to not walk on the grass unless absolutely necessary, especially if it is covered in snow or ice as this will damage it.
Continue to remove worm casts Although not harmful, worm casts can encourage weeds and moss to develop as well as being unsightly. Keep sweeping them off the lawn onto the borders.
Prepare the ground for new grass Its a great time of year to get any areas that you want to seed in the spring ready. Dig it over and pack it down by walking on it or using a garden roller, rake it and repeat the rolling. Doing at this in December allows it to settle and so be in tip top condition for seeding in the spring.
Turfing time If you prefer to lay turf rather than seeding, now is the time to do this. It will be much less demanding in terms of care as it will not require watering and as there will be less foot traffic on it, it will have time to settle properly before the growing season begins, resulting in a lovely lush lawn for the summer.
Keep treating leather jackets These are the lava of the crane fly or daddy long-legs and are particularly prevalent at this time of year. An infestation is indicated by brown patches on your lawn and generally weakened grass. Keep treating them with a recommended pesticide from the garden centre (always follow manufacturer instructions).
Garden Care in December
Get pruning All your climbing plants will need pruning now. Wisteria side shoots can be cut back to two or three buds and climbing roses will need any dead or diseased leaves removing. Dont forget to tie any new shoots to the climbers supports ready for a growth spurt in spring.
Replant your containers If you haven’t already, why not replant your containers and hanging baskets with winter plants such as ivy, cyclamen and there are a variety of grasses available that will enable you to continue to have a great display right through the grey winter months.
Mulch ado about nothing! Placing mulch around the base of your hardier perennials will protect their roots from frost and then rot down providing them with some much needed nutrients.
Christmas is coming Plants such as hyacinth and narcissi can be force grown indoors now in time to make a lovely Christmas gift for family or friends. The best way to do this it to buy bulbs from the garden centre that have already been started off so as to ensure that they are all at the same growing stage and will be flowering at the same time.
Protect your alpines Alpine plants can withstand the cold but wet weather can cause the delicate foliage to rot. Consider covering them with a glass/clear plastic cloche but leave open at either end to allow air to flow easily through it.
Prune untidy overgrown shrubs December is a good time to get on top of your pruning. This may mean less flowers as normal forming in the spring but it will encourage the shrub to form buds on older wood and improve its sturdiness in the long term.
Make a Christmas Wreath If you have holly in your garden, cut some sprigs off it early on so the birds dont eat all the berries. You can buy some floral foam from the garden centre and create a lovely display for your front door. A good tip is to soak the foam in water prior to making it up and your wreath will last longer.
Fruit & Veg Care in December
Harvest your Christmas lunch Theres nothing like home grown vegetables to make Christmas extra special. You can start to harvest your sprouts cauliflower, new potatoes, carrots and parsnips ready for your Christmas dinner.
Harvest your crops – You should be lifting your main crop carrots now, along with leeks, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, swedes, turnips and spinach.
Plant some broad beans – Plants sown now will overwinter and produce crops in the spring.
Not much planting to do There isn’t much that you can plant this late in the year so it is a good time to dig over any unused land with your Mantis Tiller and either get some manure down or plant some green manure. Alternatively, you can cover the area with a membrane to keep the weeds from growing. Weeds are fundamentally plants and need air and light to thrive, depriving them of these elements will ensure they cannot get a hold and you will have a nice weed free area for planting in the spring. You can use any material so long as light cannot penetrate it but ensure that it is tied down securely in case of high wind. Water will pool on uneven ground so try to dig it over as evenly as possible or dig in some channels that will allow water to drain away. Suitable materials include carpet, felt, cardboard, newspaper. If using carpet, use a nylon one that will not start to break down and will last forever. Also avoid using foam backed ones as you will end up with bits of foam breaking off into the soil.
Take care of cauliflowers protect them by tying the leaves up around the developing curds to keep the rain and frost off and ensuring that you end up with lovely white cauliflower when its ready to harvest. It is a good idea to cover all your brassicas with netting to discourage birds from feeding on them whilst food is scarce for them.
Plant some fruit trees December is a great time for planting a number of varieties of fruit tree, including plums, cherries, apples and pears. Doing it now will give them time to establish before the growing and fruiting seasons.
Check your stored fruits Just to make sure there are no signs of rot. Discard any that have mould on them as this will spread to healthy fruit if not checked.
Other Gardening Activities in December
Clean your tools and service your machinery Whilst the pressure is off, it may be a good idea to ensure your gardening tools are cleaned and oiled ready for next year. You should also get your machinery serviced. Your Mantis Tiller can be serviced by Mantis or a local approved service centre.
Remember the birds Food will be getting very scarce for the birds now so remember to top up bird baths and bird tables.
Keep ponds clear of debris Dead foliage around the pond may fall into the water and as it rots, release gases that will be harmful to fish. Keep removing dead and dying foliage to avoid this and to stop it blocking up filters. You can make use of this in your Mantis ComposTumbler.
Trim back overhanging branches If you have trees around your pond, ensure that the branches are trimmed back to avoid taking light off it. If light is still getting through, underwater plants can still photosynthesize and produce oxygen for the fish through the winter.
Spring clean your greenhouse Give all your used propagators and seed trays a good wash with a garden disinfectant, such as Jeyes Fluid ready for use next season. Throw any that are not reusable away and have a general clear out of any rubbish left from this years crops. Wipe down shelves and check glass for any broken or cracked panes. Don’t forget to clear out the guttering too.
If you’d like any more gardening tips, please do not hesitate to visit our garden care information page.