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December: The garden(er) in hibernation.

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default December: The garden(er) in hibernation.

Post by Chilli-head on 3rd December 2015, 1:17 pm

What to do in the garden in December ? Well,  some ideas from the RHS popped into my inbox this morning:

   Plant your blackcurrant bushes
   Prune outdoor grapevines before it is too cold
   Prune apple and pear trees
   Prepare soil on empty beds
   Store vegetables to last through the winter
   Select seed using our Award of Garden Merit list


I pruned the grape vines last weekend.  I do have a couple of blackcurrant Ebony from hardwood cuttings I took last autumn to move into a permanent home, in turn freeing up some more space for strawberries, so a timely reminder there.  And some of my less productive apple trees are going to get a "pruning" they won't forget in a hurry Evil or Very Mad

But mostly it is just too soggy out there, so by and large I'll be following their last suggestion - perusing my seeds and making plans for next year.

There's more from the RHS here:
https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/grow-your-own/in-month/december
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default Re: December: The garden(er) in hibernation.

Post by Dandelion on 5th December 2015, 8:38 pm

I know the feeling CH - I have a list of things to do, but either there's some family crisis so I can't get out into the garden, or if I'm free it's either pouring with rain or blowing a gale! The thing I would really like to do at the moment is split my rhubarb plant and transplant some to start a new clump in a different part of the garden. I've been waiting for the leaves to die down (which they haven't) but having Googled it I've found some helpful advice on gardening forums, and I think I'll take the chance and split it anyway.

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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default Re: December: The garden(er) in hibernation.

Post by freebird on 5th December 2015, 8:50 pm

Thanks for reminding me about splitting rhubarb, Dandelion. I've been wanting to do mine for the last 2 years and keep missing the opportunity. Must go and look at it.
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default Re: December: The garden(er) in hibernation.

Post by Ploshkin on 8th December 2015, 4:55 pm

We had a surprise garden visitor yesterday - a cormorant. I found a pile of dead fish on the river bank. The river must have come out during the night and stranded them on the bank. I went out and when I returned the fish had gone so the bird must have returned.
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default Re: December: The garden(er) in hibernation.

Post by FloBear on 14th December 2015, 4:29 pm

Wow, that's quite a surprise!
The most wildlife excitement I've had recently was a lone redwing. Oh, and long tailed tits who are reasonably regular winter visitors but always a joy.
I did come out of hibernation yesterday to sweep up leaves and tidy up a bit in the front garden. I'd got fed up and gloomy after days of damp and drear and it really lifted my mood, even though it was a dull afternoon.
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default Re: December: The garden(er) in hibernation.

Post by Ploshkin on 14th December 2015, 4:38 pm

I've got some bits of last year's wallflowers flowering & some pulmonaria & primroses. Apart from that the garden is just a quagmire. I wish it would get a bit colder.
I have some broad beans germinated in the polytunnel - not sure what to expect of them as I don't usually do overwintering things. My Winter Gem lettuce seeds in the tunnel keep germinating & instantly disappearing, must be some small slugs hidden away. I might be better to germinate them in a tray & plant out the seedlings.
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default Re: December: The garden(er) in hibernation.

Post by Dandelion on 16th December 2015, 7:18 pm

Hello - it's me. Sorry I haven't posted much recently; I think I've gone dormant!! Seriously, with the approach of the end of term, I'm beginning to realise that it'll all be over soon, and my thought have turned to next year's seeds. I'm sure people on the forum have mentioned The Real Seed Catalogue, but I've only just stumbled upon it for myself. I'm very impressed with it, from the point of view of the variety, the prices, the attempt to keep postage low (including a discount for low-waged people and those out of work) and the fact that the seeds are not F1 hybrids so seeds can be collected for next year. I'm going to order tomatoes for next year from them. After I had looked at the Real Seed page, I then looked at the website of one of the big companies. What was interesting was how gimmicky the second website seemed - lots of F1 hybrid seeds with silly names.
I noticed Latah seeds on the Real Seed website CH - I think you've had good results with those?

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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default Re: December: The garden(er) in hibernation.

Post by freebird on 16th December 2015, 9:54 pm

I've grown Latah tomatoes, Dandelion. The plants grow very straggly, and the fruits vary enormously in size, but the earliest greenhouse tomatoes I've ever managed. We really liked them, and the later fruits had a lovely flavour. Saving seed proved a problem as they have very few seeds in them.

I really liked the sound of the Real Seed Catalogue too, but in practise found their stuff a bit disappointing. That may have been down to me not choosing suitable varieties. Also, when I read the seed saving instruction, there are quite a lot of things that have to be a good distance away from similar crops to avoid cross pollination - nearly impossible in a suburban back garden.

I would definitely grow Latah again, but would only try other crops where I am dissatisfied with my current variety.
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default Re: December: The garden(er) in hibernation.

Post by Chilli-head on 18th December 2015, 1:01 pm

Coincidentaly as JG found a wreath in the advent calendar this morning ... I took my secateurs and a bucket on a patrol of the garden this morning, collecting material for Mrs C-H to make a wreath for our door. Lots of holly with berries, but I don't understand where all the ivy has gone. Usually there is some peeking through the fence I can nab.

Had a peek in the greenhouse on route. All but the paper lantern chillies are finished. I shall be using those to maninate some pork kebabs to take to our woodworker's barbecue at the weekend hopefully. And I have managed to preserve a good range of chilli products this year; I have plenty of smoked ones - pasilla and chipotle, some dried Ancho, Mulato and Bolivian rainbow, and I'll probably have some of the paper lantern to freeze (capsicum chinense types rarely dry well). And I still have hot sauce and peach and paper lantern jam Very Happy
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default Re: December: The garden(er) in hibernation.

Post by Chilli-head on 18th December 2015, 1:17 pm

Dandelion wrote:
I noticed Latah seeds on the Real Seed website CH - I think you've had good results with those?

Hmm - not me on this one. I have grown a fair bit of stuff on their list though. Of the tomatoes, I prefer indoor cordon types - my outdoor ones always get blight. I had Orange banana and Rose de Berne from them this year, both were good but particularly Rose de Berne was well flavoured.

I know what FB means I think - sometimes I get the feeling that newer varieties have moved on a bit, and perform more reliably. Things like the F1 supersweet sweetcorn I would not be without. But many of the Real Seed varieties are pretty good. IMHO there is no need for F1 parsnips when we have good old Tender and True. Their beetroot Sanguina was really nice too. I grew Ohnivec chillies from them, and early Jalapeno - both good. Precoce de Louviers Spring Cabbage was very sucessful too. And - best thing of all - they don't bombard you with junk mail all year long like T&M do !
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default Re: December: The garden(er) in hibernation.

Post by Dandelion on 18th December 2015, 7:26 pm

Thanks for the feedback and advice folks - I'm going to order some different tomato varieties to grow for school, and will let you know how I get on.The other thing I'm going to try this week is to grow some microgreens. I tried a year or two ago with little success: I think where I went wrong was trying to grow them on kitchen towel like you grow mustard and cress. I've found an article from the Guardian which suggests growing them on compost. Again, I'll report on my progress!

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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default Re: December: The garden(er) in hibernation.

Post by Ploshkin on 30th December 2015, 2:35 pm

I've ordered seeds today mainly for getting some stuff going early in the polytunnel. I am going to try some sweetcorn and sweet peppers that I never usually even bother trying. I've already got a few broad bean plants growing well and the other day I transplanted some spinach beet seedlings that have sat outside in a tray all winter.
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default Re: December: The garden(er) in hibernation.

Post by freebird on 30th December 2015, 10:53 pm

Don't forget that sweet corn is wind-pollinated, Ploshkin. You might need to open up the polytunnel a bit, or give it a helping hand, once it's pollination time.
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default Re: December: The garden(er) in hibernation.

Post by Ploshkin on 31st December 2015, 1:34 pm

My tunnel has double doors at each end and I intend trying sweetcorn in the central bed so it should catch any wind passing through (and we're not usually short of it). The recommendation seems to be that the doors are kept open every day for ventilation.
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default Re: December: The garden(er) in hibernation.

Post by Chilli-head on 31st December 2015, 6:23 pm

There's always the trick of planting one lot of sweetcorn at a wide spacing, then inter-planting it with a second lot a fortnight later. The pollen ripeness and the receptiveness of the silks are not at the same time usually, so this can give a better set. Or so a French grower told us once.

I got out in the garden today at last. Main job was to replace some trellis whilst the clematis and honeysuckle could be cut back hard. I got that done, and also removed the honeysuckle from our crab apple tree which it had reached up into after scaling the trellis - it looked pretty there but was getting too dominant. Whilst up the tree I cleared out the bird box (the one with the camera), just in case the birds are fooled bit the mild weather into starting to scout for nesting sites early.

Then it started to rain. Huge pile of prunings to put through the shredder will have to wait for another day.
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