Protection – be it soil, crops, plants, and wildlife is the dominant theme for the winter months. Don’t forget wildlife, too.
For the kitchen garden, this handy month by month guide offers a comprehensive checklist of what to do when.
a) We all get caught out by the first frosts. Better to cover susceptible crops with cloches now, especially leaf crops such as winter lettuces, spinach, and winter chicories.
b) Cover your compost heap. Straw or compost fleece can be used.
c) Protect your soil by adding a mulch of organic matter where possible. Your worms will thank you, too.
Plan ahead :
a) Gather up your leaves and recycle them to make leaf mould. This wonderful free “ gardener’s gold ‘ is a valued soil conditioner and mulch. Its good also to add to homemade peat-free compost. This great 5-minute video shows you how
b) Hedges, trees, and soft fruit can all be planted over winter, while they are dormant and weather and conditions are favourable. Use the biodynamic tree paste. Do not plant when the ground is frozen. Planting instructions for fruit trees
c) Order seed catalogues, and plan to have a feast of open-pollinated varieties to grow next spring.
Often overlooked but over winter, it’s easy for the vegetable patch to look unloved and forlorn, as rotting leaves take over. Regularly removing these to the compost bin will transform your vegetables, and help moulds etc. from spreading.
There is masses you can do to nurture and protect wildlife in your garden over the winter months.
Water: it may sound odd, but access to water is just as important in winter as summer.
Put a pond on your to-do- list; in the meantime, an old Victorian crock bowl, Belfast sink or something similar sunk into the soil will give wildlife instant access.
Love leaf litter. Protects the soil and provides homes for all kinds of tiny creatures. Hedgehogs feed off many of these. Make a simple shelter for them by leaning a piece of wood against a wall or fence and stuff full of leaves. Find out more on how to attract hedgehogs here.
Create a wildlife corridor: wildlife can’t walk through a fence or open your garden gate. Creating a small gap at ground level will enable more wildlife to move in and out, and is one of the simplest ways to encourage more biodiversity in your garden.
Mini bug shelters: perennial plants with hollow stalks, teasels or large seed heads (poppies, alliums) make invaluable mini bug hotels and hideaways for insects such as ladybirds and lacewings.
Planting Calendar Dates
Activity: Planting out flower bulbs.
Best done on Flower days during Northern Transplanting Time for encouraging vigorous growth and vivid flowers.
Dates: Sat 16th November from 2 pm through to Sunday 17th November 5 pm. And
Mon 25th Nov all-day.
Activity: Pruning trees and hedges
Best done during Northern Transplanting time ( also know as Descending Moon, sap flow appears to be slower, making it a good time for trimming and pruning)
Dates: December 13th from 10 pm through to December 26th 5 pm
NB: Fruit Trees will benefit from being pruned on Fruit Days during this 14 day period
and dates for these are: Sun 15th Dec from 8 am until 10 pm, Mon 16th Dec from 12 noon through till Weds 18th Dec 8 am and a brief slot Tues 24th Dec from 11 am all day. We don’t imagine pruning will be uppermost in your mind on Christmas Eve, but you never know!
Activity: Cutting greenery for festive decorations and cutting your Christmas tree
Doing this on Flower days has shown to enhance the keeping quality and offer a longer-lasting fragrance.
Dates: Tues 3rd Dec from 1 am through till Thurs 5th Dec 8 am. Fri 13th Dec 7 pm until Sat 14th Dec 11 pm. Sun 22nd Dec from 6 am until Mon 23rd Dec ending at 12 noon.