Jobs to do in December

Pruning and tidying

Top tips

Now's the time to prune apples, pears, quinces and medlars. If you're planting new trees and bushes, ensure the ground is not too wet or frosted. Meanwhile, clear late-season debris off the vegetable plots, and dispose.

Apple pruning


Sowing and planting


  • Plant new trees and bushes. Don't plant if the ground is waterlogged or frozen.


  • Plant shallots and garlic in mild areas with well-drained soil.


Pruning and training


  • Thin out congested spurs of restricted fruit trees.

  • Tie in new tiers of espaliers.

  • Prune apples, pears, quinces and medlars.

  • Prune autumn raspberries.

  • Prune red and white currants and gooseberries.



  • Protect new sowings and crops still in the ground from mice.

  • Place mice controls near stored fruit and vegetables as well.

  • Slugs can still pose a threat, and slug controls are necessary now, as always.

  • Protect brassicas from pigeons using cloches, netting or fleece.

  • Remove any yellowed leaves on Brussels sprouts and other brassicas. This will prevent the development of grey mould and brassica downy mildew.

  • Remove all remaining plant debris from the vegetable plot. Do not compost any diseased material.

  • Remove any rotten stored fruit.

  • Deal with apple and pear canker.

  • Deal with bitter pit in stored apples


General care


  • Tie in new tiers of espaliers.


  •  If hard frosts are forecast, cover trenches of stored root crops with a protective layer of cardboard so you can still access your crops to eat and enjoy during cold snaps.

  • Stake or earth up any Brussels sprouts stalks that look leggy and vulnerable to wind rock.

  • There's still time to force chicory. Pot them up and position them in a dark warm place. The tasty chicons will appear in three to six weeks.

  • If you have not done so already, now is the time to dig over and incorporate soil improvers into vacant areas of the vegetable plot.

  • Clear late-season debris off the vegetable plots, and compost it. Bin or burn any diseased material.

  • Clean and store bamboo canes in the shed or other dry place to ensure they're still in good condition for next year. Broken or rotted ones can be shortened, where possible, for re-use.

Ready to harvest


  •     Beetroot

  •     Turnips

  •     Parsnips

  •     Brussels sprouts

  •     Celery

  •     Swedes

  •     Cabbages

  •     Leeks

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