Looking for gift ideas? Browse the garden center at your local Home Depot for the green thumbs on your holiday list. Consider practical items like pruners, garden carts, or a raised bed garden kit. Fun presents might include a new bird feeder and a couple of bags of seeds to stock it. If your recipient is a weather-watcher, try a weather monitoring station or wireless digital thermometer. Any gardener would also appreciate a handwritten note promising to dig a hole for a new tree or an offer to prune roses.
- Pick a handful of fresh herbs to make herbal vinegars. Use 8 cups of fresh herbs to a gallon of your favorite vinegar. Cap tightly and store in a dark place for a few weeks.
- Keep turning the compost pile and adding to it. (It helps to keep a small, lidded container on your counter for coffee grounds and other daily kitchen scraps.) Warm temperatures slow decomposition, but the pile will still produce lots of good organic matter.
- Plant primroses in soil that drains easily and make sure they have good air circulation to ensure healthy growth.
- Nemesia will provide winter color in baskets, window boxes, beds, and borders. Let it trail out of containers or tuck it underneath tall shrubs for accents.
- Watch for damage caused by snails and slugs in your lettuce, peas, and other cool season vegetables. For a non-toxic trap, bury empty catfood tins or margarine containers around your garden so they’re level with the surface of the soil. Fill them with beer or grape juice and check them daily.
- If a hard freeze is forecast, water the garden and citrus trees thoroughly to help protect against frost damage. Cover tropicals and tender plants with burlap or old sheets. Remove the coverings as soon as the sun comes out and the temperatures warm up.
- Mulch around perennial plants and shrubs.
- Indoor cacti and many tropical natives need to rest for a few months each winter. Cut back on watering them until the middle of February. Christmas cacti are actually succulents, not cacti. Allow them to go dry between waterings.
- Walking around in your garden while the soil is wet is a sure way to compact the soil. If you must walk on wet ground, put down some boards to help distribute your weight.
- Continue adding winter color to your landscape by planting pansies, violas, Iceland poppies, and stock.
- Remember that birds don’t just need supplemental food during the winter. They also need clean, fresh water for daily bathing and drinking. Keep your bird bath clean and refilled often.