December in the Garden

November 29th, 2008 by david laferney Leave a reply »

photo by Michael Smith - New Windsor, Maryland

What to do in the garden in December? The truth is, even here in the sunny south there isn’t a  lot of excitement garden wise going on in the month of December – which isn’t an entirely bad thing of course.  At the very least it’s a chance to look forward to next season.

Nonetheless, there are a few things that need to be done.

  • If you are an on-the-ball fall gardener you don’t need to be told that you have cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, greens of all kinds, carots, jerusalem artichokes, celery, radish, spinach and all manner of good stuff  to deal with.  The rest of us need to remember this next August when we should be planting instead of lounging by the pool.
  • If you haven’t already done so it’s high time to get rid of any crop residue that’s left – mummified fruits are very likely to harbor disease or pests – remove or burn anything like this.
  • As ground becomes available it can be dug and left rough – compost, manure, and other amendments can be spread and left for winter weather to work on for a while.  The freeze thaw cycles will do a lot of the work for you.
  • Have a soil test done, and apply lime if it’s indicated.  You’re local ag agent probably won’t be swamped in December.
  • If you till your garden, you should watch for any opportunity to do so if you haven’t already.  In our area this could happen at any time all through the winter, but in early spring when you would like to plant, it might be too wet, so seize the day when the opportunity to work the soil arises so that you’ll be prepared when the time comes in February to plant spinach or in March when you could be planting snow peas – a great salad combination by the way.
  • Mulch strawberries – by now they’ve had a good dose of the cold (which they need), and a few inches of straw will help to protect the crowns from Winter extremes.  A good layer of mulch will also help to keep the soil from warming up prematurely in the Spring, and possibly keep your plants from flowering too soon and getting bit by a late frost.
  • Cover up the compost pile before serious rain or snow sets in so that all of the goodness doesn’t leach out and wash away.
  • Plan next years garden.  You don’t want the tomatoes or brassicas (or most anything else for that matter) to be in the same place again, and you want to have space available come August to plant all of those previously mentioned fall crops.  Have a plan before the time comes to plant the first seed.
  • Order seed catalogs.   About.coms gardening catalog list is so extensive that there just isn’t any point to go into it here – just click the link and check it out.
  • Want to be a really happy gardener?  Then you should participate in Birds and Blooms $20K Holiday give-away. You can register every day between the Dec. 1st and the 18th for a different prize all the way up to a $5000 gazebo gift certificate.

For a British spin on What to do in December the UK National Vegetable Society has a great article on the very subject.

Planting a garden is the very embodiment of hope – Merry Christmas, and happy holidays to all.


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