In The Fruit Garden This December

Prune grape vines.

Now is the perfect time to prune fruit trees to maintain an open, balanced structure and encouraged quality fruit production. The exception is plums, cherries and other stone fruits that should not be pruned until the summer to prevent silver leaf fungus. Use clean, sharp secateurs to avoid damaging your trees.

Apply glue bands or grease bands to the trunks of the fruit trees to prevent wingless female winter moths climbing the trunks and laying their eggs in the branches.

Lift and divide established clumps of rhubarb to renew the plant’s vigour. Sections taken from the outside of the plant are better than those from the centre.

Construct a screen of clear polythene over wall trained peaches and nectarines to protect them from wet winter weather, which spreads the peach leaf curl fungus.

If your strawberry plants are over 3 years old now is the time to plan for new ones. Old strawberries can harbour diseases and tend to lose vigour and productivity.

Top Tip:

Protect the tips of fig tree branches. They will carry the fruits for next year and are susceptible to frost. Cover with fleece or straw.

This Month's Key Tips
  • Check your winter protection structures are securely in place.
  • Prune acers, birches and wines before Christmas to avoid bleeding.
  • Harvest leeks, parsnips, winter cabbage, sprouts and remaining root crops.
  • Reduce watering of houseplants.
  • Insulate outdoor taps and prevent ponds from freezing.