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Gardening through the year

Gardening jobs for December

Article 12 of 13

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Gardening jobs for December

Christmas may be near, but there are still a few gardening jobs to be done in December, such as making a Christmas wreath and feeding the birds.

Make a Christmas wreath

There's no need to pay for an expensive wreath in the shops, as it's easy to make one using material gathered from the garden. To keep things simple, use a ring-shaped piece of floral foam, which costs about £5-£7 from garden centres or online. The green type can be soaked in water, so it will keep fresh foliage looking good for longer. Be generous with the decorations to hide the floral foam underneath. Holly berries are the traditional final touch, but bright-red chilli peppers also work well. Push a short length of wire through their stems to attach them to the wreath.

Read our advice about choosing a Christmas tree.

Buy pots of bulbs for indoors

For colour and scent over Christmas, you can't beat pots of bulbs such as hyacinths or paper-white narcissus. Don't worry if you didn't get around to planting some in autumn, as you can buy pots of ready-grown bulbs now. To keep them at their best for as long as possible, put them in a well-lit spot in a cool room. The long leaves of narcissus look good when supported by a few twiggy stems from the garden.

After the bulbs finish flowering, you can either throw them away or plant them in the garden.

Feed the birds

Putting out high-fat (high-energy) foods for birds in winter will help our feathered friends to get through the worst of the weather. Adjust the quantity you put out according to demand, regularly wash bird feeders and throw away old food. A useful tip is to cut off the fine netting that fat balls come in so birds don't get their feet tangled up. A tray is good for ground-feeding birds, such as blackbirds, starlings and chaffinches, but be aware of rats, which may also be attracted. One technique that can prevent rats climbing poles to reach hanging feeders is to thread the pole through an upside-down plant pot.

Pick veg for the festive table

For many veg growers, providing plenty of fresh produce for the Christmas dinner is a point of honour. Our own veg expert Steve Mercer usually counts on serving Brussels sprouts, carrots and parsnips fresh from the garden, and squash and 'King Edward' potatoes from his stores.

To work off the Christmas dinner, you may want to stray outdoors and clear the veg plot. Compost any old plants and put away canes and netting in the shed. Many gardeners like to follow tradition by digging over the soil now, while others prefer to cover the surface with compost or manure instead and let the worms do the hard work.

Watch our video guide to veg jobs for December.