December 2012 To Do List: Zone 7

Susan Wells
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November 2012 To Do Lists: Zone 8

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This month is laying by month. Store sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes and other root crops in a root cellar or in boxes of sand out of the light. Use jars of apple butter or containers of summer pesto from the freezer as holiday gifts. Bouquets of dried flowers or herbs make lovely hostess gifts for holiday parties.

FLOWERS

Sweet peas may still be planted in good weather. Continue to plant roses. Tulips can still be planted in the first two weeks, and other late bulbs can be planted all month.

VEGETABLES

Onions can survive all winter, so leave them in the ground. Turnips, cabbages, collards and other kohl plants can survive down to 10 degrees. Harvest broccoli as heads develop. Harvest greens on a cut and come again basis. They will continue to grow on any day that’s above freezing.

You will be harvesting many vegetables this month if you planned your winter garden well. Arugula, beets, bok choy, cabbage, carrots, greens, sweet potatoes, spinach, winter squash and turnips will all be available this month.

SHRUBS AND TREES

Most woody plants can still be planted until the ground freezes too hard to work. Mulch any plantings well and water in, just as you would any other time of year. Guy wire until spring any tree more than three inches in diameter.

A paste of wood ash and water spread on tree trunks repels borers if they are a problem in your area.

Prune evergreens and bring the boughs indoors for fragrant decorations. Use nandina and holly berries for red accents.

Plant woody vines like Carolina jessamine, American wisteria and cross vine now near sturdy supports. Tie the vines up with twine or plant ties.

You can propagate cuttings of woody plants in late fall and winter by dipping cuttings in rooting hormone and putting them in boxes full of sand. Leave them outdoors in a protected place covered with white plastic or floating row cover. Make sure the sand stays moist. It may take several months before the cuttings grow enough to transplant.

LAWNS

Rake leaves into piles, run over them with a lawn mower to shred, rake them back into beds or around trees as mulch. Add mulched leaves to compost pile. Turn compost before it freezes. Leaves can be used for a number of purposes in the garden and elsewhere.

Bermuda sod may still be planted, but be sure to keep it watered throughout the winter.

Drain the gas from your lawnmower or run it until it is out of gas. Don’t leave it out in the rain or snow or water will get in the gas tank.

PLANNING

Plan the spring garden and order seeds and plants for delivery in time for planting. Draw plans for garden hardscape and work toward building structures, walkways, walls or decks during the cold months.

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