December in the Garden
There's not a lot to do outside at this time of year now that the garden has gone to sleep for the winter, but there are things you can do in the comfort of your armchair, e.g. planning next year's crop. When planning your plot for next year, think about crop rotation. It doesn't have to be according to the book, so long as you don't put the same group of plants in the same place as last year. Remember that leafy crops need as much sun as possible and root crops don't like newly manured ground.
Now you know what you want to grow, order your seeds or do some swapping. There's a useful guide from GIY about how long you can keep seeds at the end of this entry. If you can grow more than you need yourself, or are especially good at a particular crop, then think about growing extra for swapping at the Growers Market.
Cover any over wintering semi-hardy crops such as corn salad (also known as lambs lettuce) with fleece or clear glass/plastic and you'll be able to crop it all winter. (I salvaged a plastic skylight a few years ago when my neighbour was re-building her kitchen ceiling and it does a brilliant job of protecting low growing plants or warming the soil up in the Spring.) Brassicas, leeks and root crops do not need protecting.
Remember to feed the birds and put water out for them especially in sub-zero temperatures.
GIY International's guide to keeping seeds
1 YEAR : parsnips, beetroot, leeks, sweetcorn, peppers, spinach, onions, parsley
2-4 YEARS : squash and pumpkin, courgette and marrow, peas and beans and carrots.
4+ YEARS : sprouts, cabbage, kale, cucumber, lettuce, radish, tomato, turnip.
Always keep seeds in a dry tin in a cool place. They keep longer if unopened.