Gardening: Jobs for the weekend, weather permitting | Brian Kidd

If you think you’ll need to get away from it all on Boxing Day, Brian has the perfect solution...

Friday, 13th December 2019, 2:48 pm
Leave some holly berries for the birds.

• For instant colour why not consider winter-flowering heathers in pots. They are already in flower and if planted now they will give your garden a glow during this winter. None of the heathers like chalk, so, plant them in a raised area or in a container of acid compost, the best is John Innes ericaceous mix. Ordinary JI composts are not suitable for heathers.

• Plan ahead. After digging the area where summer cabbages will be planted, scatter on a thick dressing of garden lime but don’t apply this where other crops are to be grown.

• Buy a packet of exhibition onions so they can be sown on Boxing Day in your greenhouse. My dad always did this to get away from we children for an hour.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

• If you’re buying a Christmas tree with a root, pot it up into a potting compost from the garden centre. Potting compost is much easier to handle (garden soil is wet and difficult to handle) and the tree is more likely to survive. Remember too, if you buy a small one already in a pot and there is moss growing on top of the surface of the compost, it is far more likely to survive after Christmas.

• A lot of people think it is a pity to buy a Christmas tree which has no roots because the poor thing has been sacrificed, if you feel that way, buy an artificial one like me! If, however, you buy a Christmas tree without roots, buy a water retainer so the trunk can absorb water during the festival. Cut off an inch off the bottom of the stem before using the water retainer to reduces needle-drop.

• Top up the water retainer just before going to bed. Please turn off the fairy lights before topping up the container with water.

• Blackbirds are eating the holly berries as if there is no tomorrow. Pick some ASAP if you want berries for indoor displays otherwise you will need to buy some of those which are on wires and they have to be twisted on to the indoor decorations. I don’t mind having to do this because the berries are natural food for the lovely blackbirds.

• Are you going to make a holly wreath with a red ribbon to go on to your front door? This job is made easier if you buy a circle of oasis at the garden centre. Simply soak the oasis circle for an hour and then thrust in the fresh holly, ivy and mistletoe accompanied by baubles and ribbon and everyone will feel welcome into your home.

• On the mundane side, try to get some more digging done on the vegetable patch. Leave it rough so frosts break down the clods.

• This is a good time to undertake fruit tree pruning, particularly apple trees. Buy a good pruning saw and secateurs and remove all branches which are crossing and scraping. Try not to remove wood which has large rounded buds. Why? The fat buds will bear fruits next year.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​