Being British it’s almost second nature to talk about the weather. We can often be found doing so whilst partaking in another favourite pastime of ours; queuing. We feel almost compelled to give a constant update to others about the latest weather forecast and what dreadful conditions we can all expect during the forthcoming weekend.
Personally, I love our climate and having such defined seasons in Britain. Our hot summer days slowly fading into cold, dark autumn evenings, eventually giving into the freezing temperatures of winter, before awakening again with the green shoots of new life in spring. I am of course guilty myself of this very ‘British’ trait. The weather can of course be a real deal breaker when it comes to deciding what outdoor pursuits to participate in, including getting your hands dirty in your garden or allotment.
I will admit that pulling my wellies on, leaving the warmth of our centrally heated house and getting outside can be a struggle initially at times. However, I can honestly say that with the sense of achievement it brings, combined with the mental and physical health benefits; I always feel better for it afterwards. So, with this in mind, here are a few jobs you can be getting on with in December……
Bulbs, bulbs and more bulbs! You still have time to get planting your tulip bulbs to ensure you have a gorgeous display in spring. There are so many different varieties to choose from and they even make gorgeous cut flowers too. You can either plant them in your garden, borders and raised beds; or if you have pots sitting empty, make use of those. This is such a simple way of ensuring you have lots of beautiful colour to look forwards to in early spring.
We really must not forget our feathered friends in the garden at this time of year. The weather will be cold and miserable with food sources scarce, so help them out a little by providing them with extra food. You can do this by keeping bird feeders and tables restocked or you can make a DIY bird feeder which is a great way to get your children or grandchildren involved too. It’s essential for birds to try and bulk up as much as possible if they are to survive the cold winter nights so using lard is perfect. Soften some lard using a saucepan or in a microwave and mix in a few treats the birds will enjoy such as oats, peanuts, raisins, bird seed etc. When you’re finished mixing, simply fill empty yogurt pots or even soft drinks bottle which have been cut in half and leave to set in the fridge for an hour. Once set, hang them from a tree using string. You can make a few extra and store them in the freezer so they can be easily replaced once they’ve been eaten.
At this time of year there really is no shortage of dead leaves on the ground. Fortunately you can put them to good use and make a fantastic soil improver called leaf mold. Leaf mold is the result of letting leaves rot down over time and is much like compost in texture but doesn’t provide the same nutrients. What leaf mold does is improve your soil structure and can increase the water retention in your soil or compost by over 50% so it’s perfect to mix in with your shop bought compost and it makes a great mulch too. You can make leaf mold easily by filling hard plastic garden sacks with leaves, ensuring to make holes in the sacks to let air circulate. Then simply leave them behind a shed or somewhere similar out of the way to allow the leaves to rot which will take around 6 to 12 months. You can also hammer 4 stakes/posts into the ground about 1m apart and attach chicken wire around them creating a cage for your leaves to be stored in and rot, much like a compost heap.
So there are a few things to keep you busy in your garden or allotment this month and next. Keep an eye on my social media accounts for more helpful hints and tips.