December in the garden brings different chores

A month of quiet, to perhaps do some of the jobs you intended in November. There is still time to plant rhubarb sets, raspberries, bare-root fruit trees and bushes in drier, warmer soil. Plant garlic if you can. It’s your last chance for a few months. Until spring.

Dig if you do. Add manure and compost. Clear debris, but remember to leave some for shelter for four-legged residents. Carefully gather up fallen leaves for leafmould. Top up the compost heap with this year’s finished growth.

Cover root crops, such as carrots and beetroot, if you are intending to leave them in the ground. Keep a close eye on the weather forecast and lift and store them before any frost.

It is the time of good practice; for attending to tools. Clear and clean the pots and seed trays; sort through tools. De-rust and sharpen spades and blades. Oil them for over winter. It is time to tackle secateurs and small knives. Howard will be taking some of ours home and return them in spring, shiny, with sharper edges.

Remember to feed birds. Perhaps put up nesting boxes in sheltered spots. Leave seeding flowers if you have any left. Ensure smaller creatures have water. Check any nets to protect wintering brassicas from pigeons. Remember, too, to check on ponds.

Keep an eye on winter leaves, such as chicories, kales and mustards, hardier salads if you have them in protected spots. We will let some of our chicories spike and go to flower in spring. It is perhaps my favourite blue.

If you have an allotment, perhaps quietly check in on absent neighbours, to see if they might appreciate a little help with winter tidying up.

As 2022 comes to an end Howard and I will meet one evening. We’ll bring a small flask of Islay whisky. We will wander round, sit quietly, soak it in, raise a glass to luck, the year and the allotment.

Allan Jenkins’s Plot 29 (4th Estate, £9.99) is out now. Order it for £8.49 from

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