The Garden in December: What Can Still Be Done

The Garden in December: What Can Still Be Done

There is not too much to do in our gardens in December. Most of the leaves have gone, the busy planting season is over and most of the gardening tools are already stowed away. Nevertheless, boredom is not the order of the day: winter protection, pruning measures and everything else that needs to be done can be found out here.

Garden in December: Kitchen garden

Use this time to plant fruit trees! As long as the soil in the garden is open, robust fruit trees such as pome fruits, wild fruits, cherries and plums can be planted until the end of December – preferably bare-rooted. More sensitive species such as apricots or peaches, however, are better planted in spring.

Pruning is also possible now: On robust tree fruit such as apples and pears, you can in principle carry out the annual maintenance pruning throughout the winter.

Weak growth or yellow leaves? If vegetable plants or fruit trees have recently shown signs of deficiency, you should have your garden soil tested for its nutrient content and fertilise it in spring according to the soil laboratory's recommendation.
You can carry out germination tests in the coming weeks.

Germination test: This is how it works

Place kitchen paper or cotton wool on a plate or bowl.
Spread the seeds on the pad and spray with water.
Place the germination test in a warm place (cover dark sprouts additionally) and moisten it again and again when it has become dry.
The seed has survived if it has germinated by more than 50% after about two weeks.

In the winter quarters

Citrus trees and other potted plants should be checked regularly for infestation by spider mites and other pests in the cool winter location. After the plants have been in the bright garden, they are particularly susceptible to diseases and pests in the gloomy month of December.

In the greenhouse

Chives that were divided at the beginning of December can no longer be planted in the garden, but in the greenhouse or cold frame. They can sprout there from February onwards. In the empty greenhouse, used soil or soil contaminated with pathogens can be replaced with fresh soil from December onwards.

Garden in December: Ornamental Garden

If the weather is mild and the soil is open, you can still plant robust deciduous shrubs or even tulips.

Christmas roses like it to be sufficiently moist when they flower. In case of prolonged drought, you should therefore water thoroughly. The evergreen perennials and woody plants are also affected by bright sun and frozen ground (“frost-dryness”). We therefore advise you to water preventively during mild phases.

It is best to move potted flower bulbs from the garden under the roof overhang or into the cold garage so that the soil does not get wet during the winter rainfall in December. Otherwise the bulbs will rot too easily and the spring flowers will not bloom.
Winter-hardy potted plants outdoors should be wrapped in coconut matting, bubble wrap or in boxes with foliage. This protects the root balls and thus the frost-sensitive roots in the garden or on the balcony from strong temperature fluctuations in December.
Pile up sensitive roses with garden soil or mature compost 15-20 cm high. If the shoots freeze back during a hard winter, there will still be enough dormant eyes at the base of the bush from which the rose can rebuild.

Caution: When mounding the roses, take care not to expose their roots. It is best to additionally spread foliage or fir brushwood around the root area.

And also in the garden in December

Repaint fruit trees with lime to protect them from frost damage.
Glue rings against frost moths can be removed now.
Ventilate cold frames on frost-free days to prevent mildew infestation on lamb's lettuce.
Remove diseased plants now.
Continue to regularly inspect apples and the like in the storage cellar and remove any rot.
Protect sensitive terracotta pots from frost cracks with fleece.
If you have not already done so, move water plants such as water lilies and marsh iris from small ponds into filled water buckets and bring them indoors (e.g. in a bright cellar, frost-free but below 12° Celsius).
4 December is Saint Barbara's Day: so-called Barbara branches can be taken from cherry, elder, apple or forsythia and placed in a vase. With a little luck, they will blossom for Christmas.

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