Here is our gardening diary for December – not that anyone’s going to be doing much the first week!
Remember that we have sandy, chalky soil that needs constant building up with quantities of humus-making material, so this is a good time to bring in as much manure as you can and cover the soil. I prefer to leave it until the spring to dig it in, but whenever you do this do not dig it in too deeply as it is important for the top layer to be rich and water-retentive.
It is now too late to plant broad beans so if you haven’t planted them yet wait until spring. Here is a tip for next year’s rotational planting – one of the best crops to succeed celery is onions. If the winter is particularly severe it may be worth covering hardy root crops such as parsnips, turnips and Jerusalem artichokes with a straw mulch. Winter cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, leeks etc , while prepared for any weather, appreciate the support that drawing up the soil around them gives.
Provided the ground is not frozen this is a good time to plant fruit trees and bushes and to take hardwood cuttings. Prune apples and pears but not cherries and plums which are best pruned in summer to avoid silver leaf disease and bacterial cancer. You should finish pruning redcurrants now by cutting back sideshoots to one dormant bud.
Cut down autumn raspberries as soon as possible to minimise the risk of fungal spots or cane blight. You should also thin out other cane fruits to allow air circulation.