Winter has officially arrived. December brings shorter days and colder weather, but there are still a few things to be done this month. Here are a few simple things you can do to get prepared for the next growing season.
• Clean Up—Remove dead vegetation and weeds to prevent a build up of diseases, weeds and insects.
• There is still time to plant some hardy flowers, and cool-season vegetables and herbs. Flowers—Petunia, pansy, snapdragon lobelia, alyssum and viola
Vegetables —beets, broccoli, cabbage, onions and carrots Herbs—parley, thyme, sage, dill, cilantro and garlic
Watering—Check the soil moisture throughout the winter, and water when necessary. It takes longer for well-watered plants to freeze. If some plants do get freeze damage, do not trim off the dead parts until late January. This will help defend the plants from another freeze.
Freezes—Have frost cloths on hand to cover tender plants in case of freezing weather. Wrap plants completely down to ground level. The less drafts that move under the cloth, the better.
Lawns—Mow fallen leaves back into your lawn. You can also use leaves as mulch in flower beds, or add to your compost pile.
Soil —Work compost into the top couple inches of your garden beds and plow under to prepare your soil for next year. This is a good time to test your soil and add lime if necessary.
Houseplants—Bring cold-sensitive plants indoors. Check them frequently for any signs of disease or pests.
Pond Maintenance—Remove any leaves or debris, and drain the water by 25-50%. The pump should be stored indoors, and add a bacterial additive to the water to speed the decomposition of organic matter.
Birds—Keep seed feeders full and fresh water in bird baths. For an extra boost of protein to keep our feathered friends warm, put out suet cakes.
Tools—Prepare lawn mowers and weed eaters for winter, so you do not damage the engine. Clean and sharpen garden tools before putting them away. Disconnect the hose, drain it and store with your gar- den tools. Wipe down outdoor furniture and cover.
Plan Ahead—Browse catalogs, visit nurseries and study your landscape to make improvements or additions. Order seeds now for spring vegetables and flowers so you will have them in plenty of time for early transplanting.
Recycle your tree this year! There are several ways to put your live tree to good use after Christmas. You could turn it into an underwater habit for the fish in your pond, provide shelter for birds or compost it.