Your National Gardening To-Do List for December 2013:
December gives gardeners in some parts of the country a break from many outdoor chores. But if you live where the winters are cold, make sure you protect roses, recently planted perennials and bulbs, and other plants with an insulating blanket of mulch. Keep an eye on tree branches damaged by winter storms, and remove them before they fall and cause harm to people or property. Use your downtime to plan for spring, sketching out how you’ll rotate crops in garden beds or add a new feature, such as a pond or walkway.
Have a happy holiday season!
- Watch for pests on indoor plants. Scale insects, spider mites, and mealybugs can often be removed by spraying your houseplants with tepid water in the kitchen sink. If problems persist, try an insecticidal soap, following directions on the label.
- Consider becoming a Master Gardener. Contact your local extension service to see if classes are offered in your area.
- Looking for a Christmas gift for a friend with a green thumb? Give a subscription to a gardening magazine, a basket filled with seed packets, potting soil, and a pair of gardening gloves, or a set of new hand tools.
- Keep feeding wild birds while insects and seeds are in short supply. Some Home Depot stores sell devices that keep the water in birdbaths from freezing, so our feathered friends can safely drink and bathe.
- Think about adding a new fruit tree to your garden or potting up a dwarf citrus for your home. Dwarf citrus can provide color, fragrance, and even fruit.
- Tie up the stems of columnar plants, such as junipers, to prevent breakage from heavy snow. Be careful when using a broom to remove the snow. You don’t want to do more harm than good.
- Mulch dormant strawberries with two to four inches of straw, pine needles, or other organic mulch when the temperatures plummet.
- Make lists of plants you want to grow for spring, and be ready to purchase seeds. Many popular varieties sell out fast.