Stephanie's Kitchen Garden Diary December 2013
December in the Kitchen Garden is all about planning for the New Year ahead. As the garden is cleared of last season’s crops and prepared for the coming year, it is a good time to look back on our successes and failures of the past year. I have been drawing up my plan of the garden for 2014 and placing my seed orders. My next rainy day task is to peruse the latest Harrod brochure. There are some new Harrod Wire Obelisks that will look lovely with sweet peas growing up them....
Armed with next year’s garden plan, Jo has been preparing the garden for next year’s crops. Our obelisks have been moved to the beds where our beans and sweet potatoes will grow. She has also emptied our compost bins and given the rhubarb and asparagus a generous mulch along with some of the beds. The remaining beds will have manure dug in when they have been cleared of the existing overwintering crops. As we are currently experiencing very wet weather, empty beds have been covered with polythene after mulching to stop all those lovely nutrients being washed away.
The fruit trees have been given their first Winter Wash of the season. This is best completed once the leaves have fallen from the trees and will be repeated in January and February. Winter Tree Wash is very effective at removing overwintering insect pests, but it does smell a bit so its a job I usually leave until the end of the day.
Earlier in the month our new raspberry canes arrived at the Kitchen Garden. I've chosen 'Autumn Bliss' and 'Malling Jewel' varieties. Jo had already prepared the ground by digging it over and adding plenty of homemade compost. The canes were planted with Root boost mycorrhizal fungi added to the bottom of the hole and bonemeal added to the surrounding soil. This will give the canes a good start to a long and productive life. Our new Steel Fruit Supports are in place to tie the canes into as they grow. They look amazing.
Despite the current unseasonably mild weather, we are preparing for the possibility of snow in the coming months. This month we installed a new Harrod weather proof vegetable cage. This includes the new framesaver net hooks which are designed to release from the cage under pressure, dropping the net onto the crops so that they remain protected from hungry birds. The cage remains intact with no danger of buckling under a heavy load of snow. It’s a brilliant idea which takes the anxiety of having to take your roof netting off every time snow is forecast.
This month I will be harvesting the first of my brussel sprouts for my Christmas dinner. Our parsnips have now had a frosting so will be lovely and sweet for roasting with the potatoes dug up in November. I also have carrots, leeks, kale, chard and celeriac ready for harvesting so this year’s Christmas feast will be a truly home grown treat.
Here are some of the jobs we've got planned for the New Year in Stephanie's Kitchen Garden:
- Clear debris quickly to keep the garden tidy and prevent pests and diseases from over wintering.
- Continue cleaning pots and trays.
- Dig over beds and add manure.
- Pot up a rhubarb to force early in the greenhouse.
- Plant shallots as soon as they arrive.
We're always here to offer advice and support. Go to the Ask the Expert section on the website and Email Horticultural Advisor Jo Blackwell with your Kitchen Garden queries or Pest Control expert Gavin Hatt and they'll do their best to help!
We're busy tweeting about all things Harrod Horticultural - what we're doing, special offers, gardening tips and advice and you can always use Twitter or Facebook to get in touch with us as well. With our webteam manning the Tweet decks and Facebook site, you can be sure you'll get the best service we can offer!
Our 116-page 2014 catalogue is out now and it's packed full of gardening ideas, products and solutions to the problems every gardener faces, plus plenty more seasonal ideas to help get the harvest in and keep it fresh!
Happy gardening and Merry Christmas!