Gardening tips for December

Here is our monthly round-up of news, tips and ideas to make the most of your garden in winter!

December is one of the quietest months in the garden, bringing with it the promise of cool frosts and maybe the occasional snowfall.

There are still jobs you can do to prepare for next year in your garden, and our Midgley centre will be stocking a fantastically festive range of Christmas trees, wreaths and gifts for gardeners!



December Garden Checklist

Here are some important garden jobs for this month, to help maintain your garden throughout the cold winter weather!

Clear faded perennials – This job should be left until as late as possible in December, but now is a great time for removing faded perennials. If you can, leave the debris in a pile in a quiet part of your garden as a place for insects to stay.

Winter pruning – While many plants benefit from pruning, it’s important to do so at the right time of year. During December, much of the garden is dormant, and roses, deciduous shrubs, grapevines, wisteria, fruit bushes, and deciduous ornamental trees all benefit from being cut back and trained. Be sure to use a pair of sharp secatuers.

Plant bulbs – Plant any remaining spring bulbs in pots and gaps in borders, ensuring the holes are three times as deep as the bulbs. Tulips, daffodils and grape hyacinths can all be planted now.

Create beautiful hanging baskets – Pansies, trailing ivy, and primroses can all be planting into hanging baskets to create colourful displays around your garden.

Add netting where necessary – Protect your winter crops, such as kale, from birds by covering them with netting.

Keep lawns leaf-free – Grass needs as much light as possible at this time of year, as well as good air circulation. Therefore, regularly raking lawns to remove leaves will keep the grass in much better condition.

Plant trees and shrubs – October to April is the best time for planting trees and shrubs. Dig a hole that is no deeper than the roots but three times the diameter. Soak bare root trees or shrubs for about 30 minutes before planting.

Provide an unfrozen water source for wildlife – Throughout the winter months it can be difficult for wildlife to find water that hasn’t been impacted by the freezing temperatures. Keep checking your bird baths, ponds, and other water sources. Discover our bird care range here.

Visit any of our centres to pick up essential gardening tools!



Feed the Birds

Winter is the time of year when many creatures go into hibernation – including insects and other invertebrates.

So, in order to not disturb them, avoid cutting long grass or disrupting compost heaps and leaf piles.

Some wildlife will still be out and about looking for food during the short daylight hours.
Leave out suet treats, seeds, nuts and fresh water for birds, to help keep them warm and fed throughout the colder months. Slightly milder regions may still be getting visits from hedgehogs, so you can still leave food out at night until it stops being taken.

To help the wildlife in your garden, why not take a look at our birdcare and wildlife product range?



Things to grow and sow in December

Plant garlic – Plant garlic now for it to be ready in July. Ideally, select a UK variety that is suited to our climate, such as ‘Solent Wight’. Split the garlic bulbs into cloves, and plant in a sunny area with free-draining soil, spacing them 20cm apart and planting each clove 10cm deep.

Plant cabbages indoors – Sow cabbage seeds in modular trays, before planting out in spring, choosing a sunny spot.

Plant rhubarb – Find a sunny spot with good drainage to plant rhubarb outside now. Rhubarb will rot if kept in an area that is regularly sodden.

Plant onions indoors – Sow onions indoor until February, before planting out. Don’t water after midsummer as this will hinder their ability to mature and be stored well.

Plant broad beans – Sow indoors until March, then plant outside in free-draining soil, with plenty of garden compost or manure dug in.



“Locally grown Christmas trees at Midgley

Here at Earnshaws we generally focus on your outside space, but during the Christmas season we’re all about bringing the greenery into your home!

It’s not too late to make one of our locally grown, freshly cut, long lasting trees the star of the show this Christmas – to work out whether a Nordmann Fir or Norway Spruce is the tree for you, take a look at our helpful infographic!

Our Midgley centre will also have handmade Christmas wreaths for sale, alongside a number of gifts for gardeners – so pay us a visit!
“Swag wreaths


Before visiting us to select your tree, be sure to measure the space that is allocated for it in your home. Once you have found your perfect tree, make it last even longer with these top tips:

Preparation is key – Your tree will last longer with more water, so it is advisable to saw 5cm off the base and leave your tree outside in a bucket of water overnight.

What to do once inside – Use a stand that holds water and keep it topped up throughout Christmas. Make sure to keep your tree away from direct heat, namely radiators and open fires.

After Christmas – You can drop your tree off at your local recycling centre. Alternatively, turn your tree into useful mulch: chop smaller branches into pieces and add to your compost heap to decompose, or shred the entire tree and leave the wood chips to rot down. The final option is to the cut the tree up and create a log pile in your garden for wildlife, which will eventually rot down.



“Things to harvest in December

Harvest broccoli – Cut the main heads of broccoli now, to allow the plant to produce smaller heads. Using a sharp pair of secatuers will stimulate the production of sideshoots, allowing another month or so worth of harvest. Remove damaged leaves to improve air circulation.

Harvest mustard greens – Many varieties of mustard greens will be ready to harvest as baby greens after 20-30 days. However, to harvest mature mustard greens, pull off the outermost leaves without damaging the growing point, and enjoy many more weeks of harvest.

Harvest cabbages – Cabbages can be harvested as well as sown this month. Generally taking between 4 and 6 months to reach maturity, harvest winter cabbages once they have formed a firm head, cutting the stem just above ground level.



“Earnshaws Firewood

At Earnshaws, we know our timber and have been cutting firewood since 1860, so you can trust us to help you keep warm over the festive period – both our centres stock ready to burn, kiln-dried firewood logs, as well as solid fuels and coals!

Our centres also stock everything from kindling and firelighters to a fantastic range of stylish contemporary and traditional fireside accessories, including fireguards, pokers, shovels, log baskets and coal scuttles – many make perfect gifts for yourself or a loved one!

Discover our full firewood range here.

Click here to view our helpful guide on choosing the right firewood logs for you.



“Feel-Good Gardening by Claire Stares

Feel-Good Gardening by Claire Stares

Featuring simple tips, practical advice and inspiring ideas, this book will help you discover how to reap the mental, physical and spiritual benefits found in nature.
Available from Amazon here.



“Of all the months of the year there is not a month one half so welcome to the young, or so full of happy associations, as the last month of the year.”

– Charles Dickens