Jobs to do this December

With Christmas approaching, it’s easy to forget your outdoor pots and baskets. To keep them looking their best, try to check them at least once a week. Water them if needed and remove any finished flowers.

Check house, shed and greenhouse gutters and drainpipes and remove any leaves that might be  blocking them.

Lag outside taps to stop them from freezing and if possible, also turn off their water supply and drain them. Also empty water from hosepipes and store them out of the cold.

It’s a tough time for houseplants. Give them as much light as possible, wipe any dust off their leaves and also clean the windows. Flowering plants will need regular watering, all others shouldn’t need watering more than once a fortnight.

For a bumper crop of runner beans next year, dig a trench and fill it with vegetable peelings over winter. Cover it over with soil in spring, ready for planting the beans in May.

Check pots of forced Christmas hyacinths. If the shoots are more than 2.5cm (1in) high, and nicely plump, bring the pot indoors. Put it in a cool, light spot, keep it well watered and the flowers should be in full flower for Christmas.

Keep the greenhouse heating bill down. Insulate it with bubble wrap. Take care not to cover all the ventilators as you’ll still need to open some on warm days.

If snow falls this month, brush it off evergreen shrubs and conifers or the weight of the snow may break the branches.

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