December – Don’t forget the wildlife

Last month was unseasonably wet which postponed many of my jobs in the garden. While the garden’s quiet but before the frosty winter weather and darker days set in, I try to get on top of DIY projects that need attention. Last year it was repairing fences and making new raised beds. This year on my list is fixing and painting benches. Chose a dry day for treating wooden fences and garden furniture with preservatives which will help protect them from weathering.

If building larger bed structures isn’t an option, a less demanding project is to build some wooden planters which are perfect for growing plants in small spaces. The advantage of constructing your own is you can adapt the fit to your own space. It can be as simple as a square box or a corner design makes a good feature. If you use pressure-treated timber, it can be stained or painted with a colour to add extra interest and won’t rot. To protect the wood, I always line the inside of my planters with plastic (I reuse large empty soil bags cut to size) but make sure you make draining holes before filling with compost.

The last thing before putting the garden to bed is to have a round up of the garden to ensure all watering equipment, including hoses and cans are stored in the garage or shed so they don’t freeze and spilt and all pots with tender plants are gathered in the greenhouse. In the absence of a greenhouse, the corner of a shed is a good alternative or failing that, wrap pots in bubble wrap or hessian and for extra protection wrap plants in horticultural fleece to reduce the impact of wind and frost on the venerable plants.

January is when I review the learning from the previous year and plan for the growing season ahead, so order new seed catalogues now ready to enjoy on the cold winter nights.

Also, at the end of January is the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch. It is the worlds largest conversation survey and great for involving the whole family. Its important we look after birds as having a balanced food chain in the garden makes for a healthy eco system.

Start hanging bird feeders now, ready for the BGBW so the birds get used to them and know they’re there. Any, or a combination of these will go down well – seeds, suet balls, mealworms, berries or chopped up fruits (apples, pears, plums)

Water is just as important as food. Place a shallow dish of fresh water on the ground to benefit all garden wildlife including birds. You could also invest in a bird bath to keep birds hydrated and clean.

If you do already have bird boxes, feeders and baths, its important you clean out them with hot water, a mild detergent and a brush. This will encourage good hygiene and help birds stay healthy during the Winter.

Top Tip- I have a few roses in my back garden and always hang some bird feeders near them so hungry birds will also pick off any overwintering pests.