Good heavens! Christmas is over. New Year’s Eve has come and gone. And suddenly we are into another year of gardening. That last week of December seems to vanish so fast.
In some areas of the UK it may be too cold to do very much outside. If you have some hard frosts it may not be possible to do very much digging, even if you have a couple of vegetable beds that should have been dug over, but somehow you haven’t got around to it.
If you bought a rooted Christmas tree the first thing to do is to get it outside. Ideally, you should not have kept it near to a radiator or in a well-heated room, but the probability is that you have. Remember that although you don’t like the cold weather outside in January your Christmas tree absolutely loves it.
You have two choices here. You can either plant it into the soil and let it grow as it likes for the next 30 or 40 years or you can keep it in a container and grow it on for display in the house next year. If it is in a container you can simply move it outside and pot it on into one slightly larger in April using John Innes No.2. Depending where you live in the country, don’t forget to check whether it needs watering – even if it is the middle of February. It might not need much, but don’t let it dry out completely.
If you haven’t already done so – and you probably haven’t – now is the time to clean out the greenhouse and to clean out all the pots and seed trays ready for sowing in the spring. It’s also a great time to start sowing.
Yes, you can start sowing leek and onion seeds in trays right now. In fact, I always sow leek seeds on Christmas morning – it’s just a little bit of “real” gardening on Christmas Day as I look forward to the year ahead. They’ll be fine in an unheated greenhouse or cloche.
Prune Berry Fruits
You can prune berry fruits such as autumn fruiting raspberries and blackberries. Autumn fruiting raspberries like Autumn Bliss need the fruited stems cut right down to ground level as the plant will produce new fruiting stems in the spring. Blackberries need to have the fruited canes cut down to the ground and the new canes that have grown during the year tied in to the wires or other supports.
While you are pruning the blackberries check that all the supports are firm before tying in new canes. You may also find that some of the new canes that have grown during the year have rooted themselves into the ground. If this is the case and you find that you have more canes than needed you can dig up the rooted new baby plant and plant it elsewhere in your plot and you have a whole new plant for free that will start fruiting in 2018.
If you have stored tubers of plants such as dahlias and begonias check them over to ensure that they have not begun to rot.
Now is the time to start forcing rhubarb. You can use a large pot, a bucket, or even a dustbin to place over the plant and ensure that it is kept in the dark. If you live in a very cold area you can insulate the outside of the pot with a layer of bubble wrap or a thick layer of straw.
Check and repair as needed fences, pergolas, and arches. Ensure that all hosepipes, and standpipes are drained: if not, it only takes one night of frost to damage them.
Don’t forget to keep putting out food and water for the birds.