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  • Jen

December - Darkest days before the dawn

Updated: Apr 4, 2022

December brings the shortest days and while everything may look fast asleep in the garden there is still plenty going on.

Tunnel vision

Many of our outdoor beds are empty and covered for the winter to prevent nutrients leaking from the soil, but others are planted with next year's flowers, tucked under fleece tunnels to keep them cosied up from the worst of the weather.

Although tender below about -5 degrees centigrade, ranunculus are generally bit hardier than people think. As long as frost doesn't touch their leaves (the fleece tunnels stop this happening), they will survive a short cold snap. Plant cells are full of water and when this freezes it bursts the cell walls and the plant dies. Ranunculus have a couple of tricks though, when it's cold they let water out of their leaves so cells don't burst if they freeze and they pump more sugars into their leaves which acts like antifreeze. Clever huh?!

Glorious greenhouse

As well as the fleece tunnels, we're also starting some hardier flowers for spring and early summer in the greenhouse. It's been so mild things are going slightly wild and the sweet peas are even attempting to flower! We're moving the biggest plants into larger pots so they can stay in the greenhouse until the after the last frost without getting stressed.

It's not often we wish for cold weather but in this instance it would be good to slow our plant babies down a bit. A bit less drizzle would also be nice while we're ordering different weather! The cloudy skies and damp air increase the risk of fungal diseases in the greenhouse which could harm the plants. So far we've escaped any problems but spring is a little way off yet!

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