Daylight hours are short this month, and the shortest day is on 21 December. But if the weather allows, a few hours spent on the allotment at this time of year will not only warm you up and reward you with some tasty crops – you’ll reap the benefits next year, too.
Discover wildlife gardening jobs for December.
There are plenty of crops to harvest in December, some of which could be destined for festive plates. It’s also a brilliant time to plant bare-root fruit.
If it’s too cold to go outside, you could also stay in and plan your plot for next year.
Here are some key allotment jobs for December.
You can harvest lots of veg for Christmas plates, including parsnips, leeks and winter cabbages, all of which can be left in the ground until you need them. It’s difficult to harvest crops from frozen soil, so if temperatures plummet, cover the soil with straw. Harvest Brussels sprouts when they are around one inch in diameter, before they ‘blow open’. Pick them from the base of the plant up, twisting them away from the plant. If you have grown potatoes for Christmas, they should be ready now.
December is a good month to winter prune apple and pear trees to control their shape and size, and to increase their productivity. You can also prune blackcurrants, gooseberries, redcurrants and whitecurrants this month.
Keep kale, winter cabbages and other brassicas covered with netting to protect them from hungry pigeons. Remove any yellowed leaves, so that fungal diseases such as grey mould and downy mildew don’t take hold.
Plant bare-root fruit
December is a great time to plant bare-root canes, bushes and trees – you can find them at the garden centre, but for the best selection, buy online. Discover how to plant a bare-root fruit tree.
If it’s cold and dark outside, why not stay in and plan next year’s veg plot? Consider what went well this year – and what didn’t – and think about rotating your crops. Watch Monty’s video guide to crop rotation. You can also order next year’s seeds.
It’s not too late to lift and divide large clumps of rhubarb, replanting the outer sections into soil enriched with well-rotted manure. Alternatively, select a large clump to force for an early crop next spring.
Take care of your tools
If you fancy an indoor job, why not spend a bit of time in your shed, cleaning, oiling and sharpening your tools? You’ll be amazed at the difference it can make.