Garden notes for December 2012.
The talk that Geoff Hawkins gave the 30 or so members who attended the AGM on 13th November was practical and very informative. Amongst a great deal of sound advice, including using Vitax Q4 fertiliser rather than my favourite Growmore, he advocated to use of bending shoots of fruit trees and climbing roses. I had never thought of using string and a brick to gently bend shoots so that the fruiting/flowering buds would have a better chance of doing their stuff rather than sending all the growth into the tip. Many people said that we should get Geoff back again to have more time, we only allowed him exactly 60 minutes, and hopefully the new committee will set that in motion for next year.
The garden becomes much quieter in December, giving you a chance to tackle some of those jobs that get overlooked in busier times. So, trees and shrubs that obstruct pathways can be pruned back into shape, and make it easier to get access. Ditches, gulleys and drains should be cleaned out and kept clear thus preventing a build up of surface water during periods of heavy rainfall.
When cutting evergreens for Christmas decoration use a sharp pair of secateurs and regard it as a pruning exercise as much as getting it for the house. Cut the pieces here and there where they will not be missed, or go the whole hog and cut the plant to shape for the spring. Thinking of pruning, spare a few minutes to clean up your pruning shears and other tools. Finish off by giving the blades a light oiling with something like WD-40 or Three in One oil.
If you are lucky enough to have a greenhouse vine, they should be pruned towards the end of the month. All side-growths should be cut back to two buds. The spurs carrying these shortened growths should be well spaced apart, at least 40 to 50 cm apart on the main rod so that overcrowding in summer is minimised.
Look out for new varieties and novelties that might be interesting. Robinsons continue to sell Exhibition seed for the main vegetable varieties, and those are the ones you need to think of for the best entries into the Summer Show. . They are on sale in Hilliers and also at the RHS Garden Centre, Wisley.
In order to have some early shoots of mint, now is the time to lift a few roots and put them in a fairly deep seed box and cover with potting soil. Put it in a frame or the greenhouse, and you will have nice shoots in a few weeks, when everything else is still asleep in the garden.
In the last week of the month give some time to plan for the year ahead.
May you all have a peaceful and very happy Christmas.