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Weekly Gardening Tips for Your Area


Dec. 2012 Garden To Do List: Zones 10-11

Susan Wells
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November 2012 To Do Lists: Zone 8

Not sure which zone you live in? Click this map to expand.

Keep mowing your cool season grasses and feed your peppers and tomatoes this month. Harvest lettuce and other greens that thrive in the cooler months. Use a cut and come again method to keep them producing all winter. Make sure to pick up and discard fallen citrus fruit to keep insects and diseases from spreading.

Vegetables and Fruits

Get ready to enjoy your citrus. Pick up and discard fallen fruit.

Feed your peppers and tomatoes once this month with fish emulsion, especially if you are growing them in pots. Nematodes are a tomato plant’s worst enemy. Nematodes hate organic matter, so the more organic matter added, the better the control.

Control aphids with insecticidal soap and beneficial insects.

Harvest mesclun with scissors. Using a cut and come again method will keep you in salad greens all winter.

Drought-resistant herb garden

Pick a handful of fresh herbs for making herbal vinegars. Use 8 cups of fresh herbs to 1 gallon of your favorite vinegar. (Pour the gallon of vinegar into a second container. Stuff the herbs into the vinegar’s original container. Now, with use of a funnel, pour the vinegar back into its’ original container covering the herbs. Cap tightly and store in a dark place for a few weeks. When you are ready to use it, or give it as a gift, strain the herbal vinegar into a clean bottle, only filling it half way and add a few sprigs of the fresh herbs. Top it off with more vinegar, and enjoy the fresh flavors.)


Poinsettias have been a holiday favorite since the 1920’s, when they came from Mexico. (More than 60 million are sold annually in the States.) They will grow in warm zones as a specimen plant, medium size shrub or as a hedge if you have the space. Don’t fertilize the poinsettia when the plant is in bloom and do not overwater them. Poinsettias exude a milky and sticky liquid that may irritate the skin, but is not poisonous. It is a good idea to keep them away from young children and pets.

If you have planted annual season color in your flowerbeds in September and October, they should be performing well this month. If you can get them to bloom before Christmas, they’ll bloom all winter long.

Cut the spikes of dwarf delphiniums after they’ve finished blooming and they’ll bloom again in the spring.

Snapdragons come in just about every shade except true blue. All parts of snapdragon are poisonous, if ingested. Dwarf ‘snaps’ are prone to rust and caterpillars. (Next October, plant the seeds of rust resistant cultivars.)

If your primroses are full grown and not blooming, feed them with a liquid organic fertilizer.

To attach a flowering vine to a smooth wall, purchase clear, silicone adhesive from Home Depot, and squeeze out several dots where needed. Before it dries, insert the center of a short twist tie into each glob. Allow the silicone to dry overnight. The following day you can tie up the vine. (This will work well with passion vines, jasmine, and clematis, but not for training a bougainvillea.)


If you are having insect issues on fruit trees other than citrus, use a dormant oil spray as the buds begin to swell, but before the plant starts actively growing. Using a horticultural oil at this time of year can kill the eggs of overwintering insects before they hatch and cause problems.

Remove dead fronds from palm trees.

It is important to keep all grass and weeds removed from the citrus tree trunk out to one foot past the drip line. Mulching is not recommended for your citrus trees because mulch against the trunk can lead to damage from insects and disease.


Warm season grasses are now dormant and require little care in December. When the grasses turn completely brown, stop watering.

If you have overseeded your Bermuda with an annual winter rye grass, you’ll need to continue to mow and water it as needed. Set the mower deck for a two-inch cut and change your blade to a mulching blade (if you’ve not done that already).

For your cool season grasses, mow weekly and water when rains are not adequate.

If your grass blades are a reddish brown and brown dust gets on your shoes, you turf has ‘rust.’ Feed the lawn with a balanced turf fertilizer. Do not spray it with chemicals to treat the rust.

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