The joy in gardening can sometimes be the experimental trial and error of growing new vegetables and varieties. However, if you do feel you need a hand, read the handy guide below from the National Allotment Society or download the growing chart from the RHS.
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • July
  • Aug
  • Sept
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
January

Overview

January is probably the coldest period of the winter and coming on top of the floods and heavy rains of just before Christmas it is well worth taking the time to look over the allotment and prioritise the jobs for the month. Top of the list has to be clean up the plot and dispose of all of the damaged and rotten crops. Don’t worry too much about soil preparations for now just concentrate on clearing the way for a February blitz; weather permitting of course. Most of the overwintering vegetables will have suffered under the wet conditions make a list, visit the site shed or garden centres and get in what replacement seeds or bulbs you will need for your immediate needs.

Harvesting

Brussels sprouts, cabbages, leeks and parsnips, if they haven't been damaged by flood water. Check on any vegetables in store and discard any that have gone mouldy or rotten.

Sowing & Planting

Patience is the watchword. The days are still too short and cold even think of sowing seeds either outdoors or in the open. A few sowings of onions, lettuce, peas, broad beans, radish and early carrots can be made under protection towards the end of the month. The January sun can push temperatures quite high so give a little air to the transplanted lettuce plants on warm days closing down early in the afternoon.

General

Protect overwintering vegetables under cloches or fleece. don’t forget to ventilate and allow plenty of fresh air to get in on sunny days. Under the protection winter sunshine temperatures can get as high as on a hot summer’s day.

Pack some straw or fleece around celery to protect it from any damaging frosts but remove it on sunny days to let the plants breathe.

Draw the soil up around the stalks of cabbages and winter cauliflowers to just under the first set of leaves. Check over Brussels sprouts and sprouting broccoli and support them with a strong stake to prevent them from being blown over in high winds.

Take advantage of days when the soil is frozen hard to barrow and stack manure and compost close to where it will be dug in later on. Don’t walk on the soil as it begins to thaw it will be wet and sticky.

If you have any plants or seedlings ticking over in a cold greenhouse cover them with several layers of newspaper on frosty nights but remove it on warm days.

Dig up rhubarb roots and divide them leaving the sections on the surface of the soil for a few days to let them be frosted prior to forcing. Cover any crowns in the soil that have been set aside for forcing with an upturned bucket or flower pot and cover the drainage holes to shut out the light. With luck you will be harvesting pale pink sticks by late February.

Check on any fruit and vegetables in store and remove any that are diseased or soft.

Towards the end of the month when the weather and soil conditions allow plant out soft fruit bushes. Spray all fruit trees and bushes with a garlic winter wash on a fine day; do not spray in frosty conditions. It won’t hurt to hold the job over to next month.

Seed potatoes will available from the end of the month. Order your seed potatoes and collect seed trays or wooden tomato trays ready to chit them in. On days when you can’t work on the plot clean the shed, greenhouse, tools and linseed oil any wooden handles. Check that the watering can and buckets don’t leak and that the wheelbarrow doesn’t have a flat wheel.
February

Overview

We get a glimpse of the early signs of the arrival of Spring this month. The soil begins to warm up around the middle of February and we can see for the first time this year the buds beginning to swell on fruit trees and bushes. Overwintering vegetables begin to look less sorry for themselves and they start to produce new growth. These are the signals that it is now safe to think about sowing a row of early, peas and broad beans using a hardy cultivar. It is too late to sow the broad bean ‘Aquadulce’ it is only really suitable for growing overwinter.

Sowing & Planting

After the middle of the month it is safe to think about sowing the seeds of early vegetables. Prepare a seed bed and sow ‘White Lisbon’ Spring onion, early short horn carrots, early types of lettuce, try a cut and come again it saves on time waiting for a heart to form. It may be too early to make a start in the colder areas of the country but try sowing of parsnip seed if you really want large roots but use a canker resistant cultivar.

February is the best month to plant out garlic and shallots. Prepare the ground as you would a seed bed and plant using a trowel don’t push the bulbs into the soil. Plant the garlic cloves about 2ins/5cms deep and leave the tips of the shallot bulbs just at the soil surface. The birds will pull one or two out leaving them lying on the ground. Replant them as soon as possible the birds will quickly lose interest.

General

Top dress all of the fruit trees and soft fruit bushes with a general fertiliser at the recommended application rate. At the same time top dress the rest of the plot with a general fertiliser as land becomes available.

Check over any fruit trees and bushes for damage and disease problems and take appropriate action.

Prune late/autumn fruiting raspberries down as low as possible and mulch around them. Tip back summer fruiting back to around 6ft/1.9mts to encourage the development of fruiting side growths.

Complete any outstanding winter pruning of soft fruit bushes cutting out down to soil level the older dark stemmed shoots of blackcurrants.

Cover the soil with cloches or sheets of plastic to warm it up in readiness for the next batch of sowing and planting. Don’t overdo it little and often is the plan over the coming weeks.

Check over the chitting potatoes and begin to rub off any eyes that are unwanted leaving three or four well-spaced shoots. Keep some fleece or newspapers nearby to cover them up on starry, frosty nights you don’t want to run the risk of losing them at this late date.

Keep checking frequently on the condition of any produce in store it will begin to wake up after its winter dormancy and start to regrow.
March

Overview

Hopefully by now we are now standing on the threshold of Spring and the new gardening season. The days are beginning to lengthen and although it may not feel like it at times the temperatures are slowly increasing day by day. More importantly the longer days are the real trigger to new growth and you will find that with the help of a little protection you can really go for those early sowings. They might not all make it but it is still worth a try and you will still have plenty of time to re-sow any misses. Your best friend this month is the weather man try to keep up to date with the local forecasts, better still ask the advice of the gardeners around you who have years of experience to draw on.

Easter falls on the 31st of March this year and the clocks go forward over the same week end. Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in a frenzy of Bank Holiday week-end gardening. Plan your work load for the month according to weather and the time you have available.

Sowing & Planting

Plant out early cultivars of potatoes as soon as possible and follow on planting out at regular intervals with the second and first maincrops until the end of the month. A little bit of forward planning, don’t be tempted to plant out more potatoes than you can protect from any frosty weather further down the line.

Transplant any early peas, broad beans, cabbages or lettuce you may have started off earlier.

Sow the seed of Brussels sprouts, summer cabbage, broccoli, onions and leeks in short rows on a “nursery seed bed”. These will be grown on to be transplanted in April.

Sow in rows in the open ground seeds of round seeded spinach, Swiss chard, early types of beetroot, carrots, parsnips, lettuce, Spring onions, peas, broad beans and turnips. Try sowing the seed of the white form of kohl rabi towards the end of the month.

Plant out onion sets, shallots and garlic before they start to produce shoots. If you are buying any from the site shed or garden centres reject any that are shooting they will only bolt during the summer. Transplant any onions that were grown from seed sown last summer into rows. It is best to treat these as a sacrificial crop to be harvested and used from August onwards.

If you can offer the protection of a greenhouse sow the seed of celery, celeriac, French beans (they are hardy enough to be planted out before the runners), cauliflowers to transplant on the open soil next month.

General

Complete any unfinished digging and winter pruning. Clear the old leaves off strawberry plants and clean up the ground in between the plants before giving them a top dressing of a general fertiliser. Keep some fleece handy to protect the developing strawberry flowers from frost. Any frost damaged flowers are easily identified as they display a tell-tale “black eye” at the centre of the dead flower.

When the weather conditions allow it, complete the preparations of seed beds for direct seed sowing. Spread the job out over several days to allow the surface of the soil to dry out.
April

Overview

April is a ‘let’s go for it!’ month on the allotment but proceed with caution. Hopefully we will all be feeling the benefit of the lengthening days and warm sunshine but beware there is always a price to pay with the treat of hard, night frosts never far away. Hold back and wait a day or two rather take a risk. It isn’t the loss of seedlings or young plants that causes the problems but the loss of your precious time that you will ever get back that does the damage. The allotment will always catch up eventually and reward your patience with bumper harvest.

Sowing & Planting

Continue with planting out the seed potatoes; aim to complete the job by the end of April. Be prepared to cover the emerging shoots of the earlies with soil if a frost is forecast.

Complete the planting of onion sets and carry on making successional sowings of beetroot, carrots, parsnips, lettuce, spinach, spring onions, kohl rabi, radish, turnips, early peas, Swiss chard.

Sow maincrop peas and make the last sowing of summer broad beans. You could try an early sowing of dwarf and climbing French beans towards then of the month. Use the darker seeded varieties they are hardier and more suited to the early sowings. Protect them from frosts.

On a prepared seed bed sow the seed leeks and summer cabbage. Plant out celeriac grown on earlier and keep the plants well watered all through the summer.

Sow under glass, in pots and trays filled with fresh seed compost, the seeds of runner beans, sweet corn, courgettes, pumpkins, squashes, outdoor/ridge cucumber.

It is now safe to transplant the cold greenhouse tomatoes in to their final positions keep some frost protection handy.

Plant out globe artichokes, either by slicing slips off the sides of main plants or plant out bought in roots. Seed raised plants sown earlier are best planted out towards the end of the month. Water well and feed regularly to build up the crowns removing any buds that may form as soon as possible.

Plant out Jerusalem artichokes but don’t allow them to overrun the allotment, if left unlifted at the end of the summer they will quickly develop into an impenetrable jungle.

Plant up a new asparagus bed but it will take two more years to establish before producing succulent shoots.

General

Early sowings of Brussels sprouts will need thinning out this month and the soil for next month’s transplanting of sweet corn, courgettes, marrows, pumpkins and outdoor/ridge cucumbers will need preparing.

Put up the runner bean poles and start to support the growing peas with brushwood or netting.

Prepare seed beds for outdoor sowing of main crop vegetables next month.

Pests & Diseases

Check over top and soft fruit for the first broods of aphids and take appropriate action; spray the plant with soapy water (diluted washing up liquid) or squash the flies with your thumb and finger. You can buy insecticides if you prefer, including a fatty acid soap to spray on the plants.

Protect any early strawberries with netting to keep birds and squirrels out.
May

Overview

May is always looked forward to as the first month of summer but it marks the end of the spring. It is a month when we can get caught out by mini droughts and heat waves. The biggest threat is to any young plants that have that have recently been transplanted into the open ground and any freshly emerging seedlings. Be sure to keep all of them well watered and if the young transplants look as if they are flagging give them some shade protection from the heat of the sun or drying winds. On the other hand May can be a complete disaster month bringing damaging frosts, cold winds with heavy rain or hail, so be prepared to take steps to protect plants if it is necessary.

Harvesting

Sprouting broccoli, cabbage, spinach, rhubarb, spring onions, early sown lettuce, beetroot, radish and peas. Cut asparagus regularly to maintain the supply. Start to remove the side shoots on tomatoes.

Use up of the last leeks. Clear away any old or finished crops and dig over the soil and prepare the site ready for the next crop.

Sowing & Planting

Plant in pots or trays under glass, Dwarf and climbing French beans, runner beans, sweet corn, outdoor cucumbers, courgettes ,pumpkins, squashes, outdoor cucumbers – all which can be planted out next month.

Savoy cabbage, winter cabbage, endive, kale and sprouting broccoli can all be sown in the open ground now, ready to be planted out next month.

Continue making direct successional sowings in the soil of lettuce, radish, spinach, turnips (switch to kohl rabi when the weather becomes hot) beetroot for summer use and also maincrop beetroot to put into store at the end of summer. While the leeks, Brussels sprouts and French beans sown last month under glass, can now be planted out.

This is also your last opportunity to sow peas and parsnips this year.

General

Thin out whilst still very small, the seedlings of beetroot, carrots, lettuce, onions, parsnips, turnips and always water along the row to settle the disturbed seedlings back in, once the job is completed.

Put up poles for runner and climbing French beans. Support peas and broad beans before they become too tall. Start to earth up potatoes especially if a frost is forecast.

Keep hoeing between crops to control weeds and also create a “dust mulch” to conserve precious soil moisture. Try to water in the cool of the evening if possible using a watering can to direct the water around the root area of the crops.

If you can get it, put some straw underneath the developing strawberry fruits to keep them off the soil and try to avoid watering overhead to reduce any problems with mildew.

Pests & Diseases

Look out for blackfly on broad beans, greenfly on peas, lettuce, cabbage root fly, carrot fly, thrip damage on brassicas especially when the plants are small. Spray the affected plants with soapy water (diluted washing up liquid) or squash the flies with your thumb and finger. You can buy insecticides if you prefer, including a fatty acid soap to spray on the plants.
June

Overview

Usually the risk of frost has passed by now, and with longer days there comes more sunshine and time to be in your allotment. If the weather is dry, then water your seed drills well before sowing any seeds – this way the young plants will develop a good root system.

Harvesting

Beetroot, broad beans, cabbage, cauliflower, early peas, lettuce, rhubarb, spring onions, radish, spinach can all start to be harvested now. Lift the earliest potatoes towards the end of the month and continue earthing up the rows of your other varieties. June is the end of the asparagus season, so stop cutting and give the plants a top dressing of general fertiliser to help build up the crowns for next year. Start to harvest the first of your soft fruits.

Sowing & Planting

Successional sowings of beetroot, kohl rabi, lettuce and winter cabbage seeds can all be done now – follow the instructions on the back of your seed packets, but it is worth starting them off in trays indoors and then transferring them outside after a couple of weeks. Sow every 2 - 4 weeks for a continual supply of produce.

Brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflowers, celeriac, courgettes, outdoor cucumbers, French and runner beans, leeks, pumpkins, squashes, sweet corn, outdoor tomatoes can all be planted out into their final position now. As with all young plants water in carefully and protect from birds with netting.

General

  • Hoe at every opportunity to remove weeds and break-up the soil. This allows water to soak down into the earth.
  • Train in climbing beans and continue to put in supports for your peas. Water along the rows of peas to swell the developing pods.
  • Carry on with the thinning out of seedlings of earlier sown crops.
  • Don’t allow plants growing under glass to dry out or overheat.

Pests & Diseases

Watch out for aphids (black fly on broad beans and greenfly on various crops) and thrips on brassicas – spray the plant with soapy water (diluted washing up liquid) or squash the flies with your thumb and finger. You can buy insecticides if you prefer, including a fatty acid soap to spray on the plants.

Carrot fly is a particular problem between May and September – when female flies lay their eggs. There are varieties of carrots on the market that have been bred to be more resistant to carrot fly (e.g. Fly Away and Resitafly) but none are 100% proof. To deter low-flying female flies, cover plants with horticultural fleece or place two foot high barriers around the plants (plastic bottle cloches work well). A biological control (pathogenic nematodes) can be bought from mail-order companies (known as Nemasys Grow Your Own), to help control the young larvae or you can opt for chemical control in the guise of Westland Plant Rescue Fruit & Vegetable Bug Killer (Lambda cyhalothrin).

Cabbage root fly attacks the roots of brassicas. Female flies lay the eggs on the surface of the soil next to the stem of the plant. When transplanting out young plants, place a piece of carpet (or cardboard or fleece) around the base of the plant to create a collar, this will stop the flies from laying their eggs on the soil. Again the biological control (pathogenic nematodes) can be used to deal with any larvae.
July

Overview

July is usually one of the driest months, so watering can be essential. To help with this, hoe regularly to break up the soil and remove weeds. Water in the cool of the morning or evening.

Harvesting

Keep up with the harvesting of all crops because the allotment is now in full production. Lift early potatoes and carry on earthing up the rows. Harvest garlic and shallots as the foliage begins to become yellow and strawy. Pick the first of the early tomatoes. July is the start of globe artichoke season. If your plant is into its second year then cut off the top bulb once big and swollen with a couple of inches of stem attached. Lift autumn planted onions for immediate use. Continue to pick rhubarb until the end of the month and begin to harvest the main crop of your strawberries. Start to pick plums, early pears and apples.

Sowing & Planting

Start sowing the seeds of the overwintering crops of kales, spring cabbage, radicchio, chicory, spinach beet and a hardy type of onion to mature in the early summer of next year. Now is the best time to sow the main crop of carrots to avoid attack from root fly. Continue with successional sowings of beetroot and lettuce. Follow the instructions on the back of the seed packet, and sow every 2 - 4 weeks for a continuous supply of crops.

Plant out the last of your marrow, pumpkins, squashes, overwintering cabbages and leeks. Cover with netting to help protect them from the birds.

General

Aim to keep the hoe moving at every opportunity. Water all crops at least once a week. Start to draw the soil up around the base of Brussels sprouts and sweet corn plants to encourage extra roots.

Pests & Diseases

This is the start of potato blight season, and if the weather is wet and humid in July then your crop is likely to be at risk. You can use fungicides containing copper to help protect your crop from the blight; these should be sprayed from June onwards if a wet July is predicted. (Crop rotation the following year is advisable). An infected plant will have a watery rot on its leaves, causing them to collapse – the infected matter should be binned or burned and not placed into your compost, as this will not kill the disease and it will reoccur the following year.

The main pests are aphids, cabbage white butterfly caterpillars and pea moth. Spray to control the aphids and pea moth with an insecticidal soap brought from the garden centre. Use the biological control of a pathogenic nematode, Steinernema carpocapsae, (trade name Nemasys Caterpillar Killer) to kill the caterpillars. (The other bio control often cited is Bacillus Thuringiensis, but unfortunately this is not available to amateur gardeners.)
August

Overview

If you’re on holiday during this month, it’s worth asking a neighbouring plot holder to keep an eye on your patch, as no doubt everything will come into season all at once and need picking.

Harvesting

Continue with the harvesting of all vegetable crops and keep up with the picking of runner beans to maintain cropping well into the autumn. Continue with the lifting of potatoes. Prepare to lift onions towards the end of the month. Wait until the tops begin to fall over as this indicates that the bulb has stopped swelling. Dry them before ‘stringing’ and putting into store. These bulbs will then keep until next March.

Start to thin apples and pears down to one or two fruits per cluster. The apples and pears will soon begin to colour up. The plums and damsons will be in full flow so harvest regularly.

Harvest the earliest grapes such as ‘Black Hamburg’. If not already done, carry out the last thinning of the bunches on late grapes.

Harvest soft fruit. The late fruiting raspberries will be cropping well by now.

Sowing & Planting

Make the last of any outdoor sowings to provide a late harvest for this season, radishes and lettuce will still produce a crop.

General

The end of this month signals the time to begin summer pruning your apples and pears (grown as cordons, espaliers or fans. For trees and bushes, leave these until the winter to prune). Start with the pears and then move on to apples. The purpose of summer pruning is to encourage the development of fruit buds for next summer.

August is definitely the last month to prune stone fruit trees (plum, apricot, cherry and peach), complete the task as soon as possible. You want to aim for an open structure of branches and remove any that cross over so they don’t damage each other.

Trim any box hedging before the first of the frosts arrives. Remember, “Make the first cut after the last frost and the last cut before the first frost”.

Pests & Diseases

Blossom end rot can affect aubergines and tomatoes causing black sunken blotches on the skin of the fruit. Usually due to a lack of calcium, the disease can be stemmed by amending your watering habits to ensure the calcium found in the soil is fed through the water to the plant – so water regularly and don’t allow the soil to dry out. (Discard any damaged fruit).
September

Overview

In many ways this month can be regarded as the start of the new gardening year. Now is a good time to take stock of the successes and failures of this year and make plans to ensure that next year will be the best ever. Also, if you are starting out from scratch you will have plenty of time to prepare the ground whilst planning your dream allotment.

Harvesting

Top of the list has to be onions and potatoes they need to be got out of the soil before the cold, damp days of autumn arrive. They have completely the opposite storage requirements. Onions must to be kept in the light and potatoes need to be stored in the dark to prevent them from turning green, but both have to be stored somewhere that will keep the frost out.

Harvest apples and pears as they become ready and pick the late season strawberries and raspberries to keep them producing fruit. They will keep cropping right up until the first frost.

Cut courgettes and marrows regularly because they will be finished by the end of the month, as will outdoor tomatoes. Remove any green tomatoes and place them in a drawer or shoebox to ripen.

Sowing & Planting

Now we have shorter, cooler days it is the perfect time to sow the seed of the Oriental vegetables. They will germinate quickly and are hardy enough to withstand the cold of winter and will provide a steady supply of fresh leaves well into the Spring of next year Also make a sowing of hardy winter lettuce and spinach. There is still time to sow an early variety of turnip to be able to use the tops as greens.

Plant out earlier sown spring cabbage and protect with netting or fleece.

General

Complete the summer pruning of soft fruit bushes, apple and pear trees. Continue with their training and tying in.

Feed all late crops with a general fertiliser such as pelleted chicken manure.

Dig up and compost any plants that have finished their season.

Clear the soil of spent crops and leave it rough dug over for the winter. It is also a good time to sow winter grazing rye as a green manure. It can be dug back into the soil as part of your spring preparations.

Pests & Diseases

Wasps are attracted this time of year due to the ripening of your fruit. Hang wasp traps in fruit trees and protect any grapes from wasps with netting or mesh. But also remember that wasps are the gardener's friend because they are major predators of aphids and caterpillars at this time of the year.
October

Overview

With autumn well under way, October is usually a month full of chilly mornings and spooky nights – the kind of weather that puts you in mind of hot mugs of tea, bowls of soup and if you’re an allotment gardener, lots of lovely winter digging! Remember that the clocks go back an hour at the end of this month so grab every minute of daylight on the allotment that you can before the dark days of winter are upon us.

Harvesting

Every child loves to make a Jack o’ Lantern, so harvest your pumpkins and squashes now. Any that aren’t used for Halloween will make a perfect supper. If any outdoor tomatoes are left, collect the fruit and place them in a drawer or shoe box to complete their ripening, but don’t forget to check on them from time to time! Early leeks can be lifted now because they are less hardy than the later cultivars. Maincrop potatoes must be got out of the ground before the end of the month using a potato or garden fork to lift them to prevent damaging the tubers. Harvest the last of the peas and runner bean crop for this year, and keep harvesting chard, spinach, carrots, celeriac, lettuce and the Oriental vegetables. Also, lift and store any Florence fennel bulbs before they are damaged by frost.

Sowing & Planting

Sow winter lettuce and a couple of short rows of winter hardy peas and broad beans towards the end of the month to provide you with an early crop next Spring.

Plant out Spring cabbage and overwintering types of onion and garlic. It is also a good time to plant rhubarb crowns.

General

Rough dig over heavy ground and leave it in lumps or ridges to be broken down gradually by the winter frosts and rain. Keep off the soil if it is wet and don’t be tempted dig it if it is frozen. When to soil is frozen hard it is a good opportunity to cart barrows of manure or compost over it.

Insulate your greenhouse before using it to protect the your more tender plants using horticultural fleece or plastic bubble sheeting; newspaper is an excellent substitute if you lay several layers over your most precious plants whenever a frost is forecast. It is also a good idea to wrap their pots in bubble wrap to insulate their roots.

The last couple of winters have been cruelly hard. Be prepared to protect chard plants, spinach, winter lettuce, peas, broad beans and any other crops that you are overwintering from the worst of the winter weather. Keep some fleece, plastic or have cloches nearby ready to use.

Clean and clear the plot of spent crops and take down the runner bean poles, cleaning the soil off the bottom of them before storing them somewhere cool and airy ready to use next year.

Stake Brussels sprouts and sprouting broccoli plants to prevent them from being blown over in strong winds, it is also worthwhile dragging soil up around the base of the plants to give them extra support.
November

Overview

No time to rest. There is just enough daylight to clear and tidy up the allotment of any old crops in preparation for next year. Don’t leave the remains of summer crops to rot and harbour overwintering pests and diseases. Wait for a clear, crisp, sunny day and go for it. You’ll feel shattered but a lot better at the end of the exercise.

Harvesting

Start to harvest winter cabbage, Brussels sprouts, leeks and parsnips, wait until after a frost for the parsnips because the chilling effect turns the starches into sugars and this gives them their natural sweetness. Pick the Brussels sprouts working from the bottom of the stalk upwards to make sure that all of the sprouts get a chance to swell. At the same time snap off any yellowing leaves at their base to ensure that there is good air circulation around the plants. It also makes the sprouts easier to pick on cold, wet and frosty days, brrrr!

Clear the ground of any remaining vulnerable crops such as celeriac, carrots, Florence fennel and put them into store before any hard frosts are forecast.

Sowing & Planting

Sow a crop of your favourite variety round seeded hardy peas. They can be sown either in the open ground if the weather conditions are favourable or three to 3”/9 cm pot and transplanted later when the roots have reached the bottom of the pot. Transplant any pot raised broad beans sown earlier somewhere sheltered and protected from cold, icy blasts. It not too late to take a chance on a sowing of broads beans if it is done early in the month. Transplant October sown lettuces to grow on under cloches or frames space them 6”.15cms square.

Although these winter varieties are tough enough to withstand most British winters it is always best to have some protection on hand ready to protect them if needs be. Wet growing conditions can wreak as much damage as the cold.

Now is a good time to plant new fruit trees and bushes. Soft fruit bushes can also be moved now if needed as well.

General

Dig, dig and dig this is the priority job of the month the more that you can get done before the end of the year the better. Check over any heaters that you rely on to make sure they are working. Check on the wheelbarrow wheel, you may have a lot of carting to do over the coming months. Most of the leaves will have fallen by now collect them up and make a leaf mould stack. Set aside a little time to check on door locks, window catches and secure anything loose or flapping that may be the source of damage or danger to neighbours on the site.
December

Overview

The year is coming to an end and the shortest day is in this month, which heralds the slow advance towards next season. So take a bit of time to reflect on your successes and to consider what went wrong with some crops. Always remember, that there are no failures in gardening it is always down to the weather, furry things or if all else fails Acts of God. Allow yourself a little relaxing time around the New Year and be ready to hit the ground running in 2013.

Harvesting

Keep picking the Brussels sprouts to ensure the sprouts don’t blow open. Also harvest winter cabbage regularly although according to variety they can remain in the soil for months. The parsnips and leeks can be left in the ground to be lifted as needed.

If a prolonged cold or wet spell is forecast you can lift leeks and parsnips to store them in containers of old compost or soil to be used at a later date. Cabbages and even sprouts can be lifted with their roots in a soil ball and stored in a shed or greenhouse. Don’t forget to water the soil occasionally.

Sowing & Planting

There isn’t anything to sow in the garden this month except your onion seed which should be sown in trays or pots in a gentle heat towards the end of the year. Treat yourself for once and spend some dream time looking through the pages of the seed catalogues putting your order together and to posting it asap. King’s Seeds make it so easy for you there are no excuses, and their catalogue is an Aladdin’s cave of goodies.

General

Check over all of your tools in the shed to make that they are safe and fit to use next season. Clean the metal and wipe it over with something like 3 in 1 oil. Clean and wipe down all wooden handles with linseed oil. It not only preserves the wood but makes the more comfortable on the hands. Check for pests and diseases on any produce in store especially for rat and mouse damage. Set the traps to catch them if you have to.
You can also download and print this handy planner from the RHS. Giving you a monthly guide to when to sow your vegetable seeds.
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