December is the time for rest and armchair gardening

Allan Jenkins
December is the time for rest and armchair gardening. It’s time to take a well-earned break and browse a few catalogues

Today is the start of meteorological winter. We are in the month of solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, when the sun rises late yet sets early – and when average UK temperatures sulk around 5 or 6C.

It’s a time of quiet on the plot. Perhaps some digging in of organic matter if it is your style – we will, it is easier now than in January – and to top up leaf mould and compost.

A month to tidy but not too much, you might want to leave sheltered places for garden creatures smaller than us

A month to tidy but not too much: you might want to leave sheltered places for garden creatures smaller than us. Leave seeding plants, too, for birds to feed on. We still have a sunflower head almost as big as an umbrella – dying, drying red orache stems and drooping amaranth.

Clean any seed trays and plant pots, take care of your tools if you haven’t done so. Linseed-oil wooden handles, sharpen steel, clean copper.

If you live in the south and maybe have a sheltered spot, it is your last chance to plant garlic for the next few months. Still time, too, for bare-root fruit trees and bushes. You can also crop late salads, such as endives and other chicories (we have a few red radicchio, some late rocket and puntarelle), and pick kale leaves from the tops of the plants to encourage new side shoots.

Otherwise, slow down, look around, take stock of what grew well and where. Think about rotation, about what you might do differently next year.

It’s getting near the months of armchair gardening, but please keep popping by to check on ponds and top up bird feeders if you have them.

Stay closer to home, scour the catalogues, get lost on interesting gardening sites, check through seeds, discard outrageously out-of-date packets.

Take time to remember your gardening year and its harvest. Start to make plans for next.

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