By now everything should have stopped growing in the garden, but apart from annuals you should not be cutting anything back yet till the end of this month at the earliest. If you chop things back too early you do not let the dying leaves do their job of returning the goodness back to the roots, bulbs, corms etc. So in this hiatus as we await the big cutback, there are a number of jobs you can be getting on with.
7th December 2021. Things I have been doing lately:
Cleaning my gardening tools. Now is the time to clean and overhaul all your gardening tools and get them ready for the new season. At its simplest this should include:
- Tightening screws and nuts and bolts on tools
- Checking handles are not loose
- Washing down spades, forks and hoes of any dried in soil
- Cleaning and oiling all small tools such as secateurs
- Conclude by sharpening everything that needs sharpening
It is also useful to make a list of any tools you don’t currently have so that you can put them on your list to Santa. The first photo below shows some of my small tools ready for their annual overhaul. All you need is some oil such as WD40 to help you remove any rust, a small sand block to rub things down; (you can get this from DIY shops), some rags for wiping down and a sharpener to give some tools an edge. The second and third photos show the cleaning process in action. I happily spent a couple of hours down by the potting benches absorbed in this heavenly activity. Click on each photo for a larger view:
After all my efforts at cleaning I was proudly showing my work to Cruella when she started to compliment me on how well I had done, anyway the upshot was she asked if I could possibly clean the instruments in her hobby room. I spent the whole day in there and scrubbed everything clean even the stubborn red stains. I must admit overall I was pleased with my efforts, but unfortunately I couldn’t get the scratch marks off around the door, they were just too deep. The photo shows the hobby room after my big clean up.
Cleaning up fallen fruit. After the recent rains you will probably find that a lot of your fruit may have started to split and have fallen from the tree. This is caused by the pulp in the fruit expanding faster than the skin can grow, hence you get a split. It is ok to leave this on the ground for a couple of days so that the birds and insects can get a feed. But, do not leave fallen fruit any longer as it can become mouldy and introduce spores and pathogens into your soil that may cause long term damage. The photo below shows my timely clean up efforts.
Taking Ice Plant cuttings. One of the few plants in flower at the moment is the hardy Ice Plant. This lovely trailing plant is ideal for rockeries, or in my case planted out on my water feature. It is doing so well on the water feature ever since I diverted the water flow and created a rockery because of Cruella’s mouse army – see previous posts. Anyway, I want to plant some more on the water feature amongst the rocks.
It is easy to take cuttings from Ice Plant. In my case I used another plant that I have in a pot. Just find a nice strong growing non flowering stem and snip off about 4- 6 inches. Nip out the leaves all the way up the stem leaving a couple at the top. Plant 4 cuttings around the edge of a four inch pot filled with very free draining compost. when you have finished put the pot in a sheltered place out of the sun. They should start to root in about a month.
The first photo below shows the Ice Plant happily growing in my water feature rockery. The next photos show the host plant with lots of potential cuttings, and the cutting process in action. Click on each photo for a larger view.
Getting ready to plant out seedlings. If you have been growing on seedlings in a shady area to protect them from the sun, now is the time to get them out in the sun ready for planting. Put your seedlings trays out in a sunny area for about a week so that you can acclimatise them before planting them out. You will need to get any hardy seedlings planted out before the end of December whilst the soil is still warm. The photo below shows a range of plants ready to go out in various spots around the garden.
Agave Attenuate flowering again. I have lots of Agave Attenuate planted around the garden and I am always taking cuttings and planting them elsewhere including in the Wild Wood. Well I don’t want to boast, but in this period of Advent when we are awaiting the birth of Jesus, I am awaiting the flowering of not one but two Agave Attenuate. Given that these plants normally flower about every 20 years, and I have already had a flowering elsewhere in the garden this year, it is nothing short of miraculous. The photos below show the two new Agave flowerings in the Wild Wood. Click on each photo for a larger view.