Monday, 2 December 2013

December Ramblings

Here we are in December already!

Gardening is probably not the first thought on most folks minds this month.... but if, like me, you love to putter in the garden and cannot be without playing in the dirt, here are some garden related things that you can be doing this month ...

Carrots in the December garden.
The only thing you really need to do to them over winter 
is make sure that the shoulders of your carrots are not exposed to frost.
Cover with soil or straw, compost or mulch.
(do this with your parsnips, too) 

What to do in the yard this month?

- Run a hoe over any new weed seedlings.

- Continue to harvest and enjoy carrots, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, parsnips, and more goodies from your fall/winter garden.

- Pot up some calendula seeds for early pops of colour in spring. Place in a cool and sunny location.

- Still time to transplant and/or plant shrubs, roses and trees in garden zones 5 and above.

- Also, you can still pop your spring flowering bulbs like tulips, crocuses, muscari, etc...into the ground. Lily bulbs can be planted as long as you can chip a big enough hole into the ground, in any garden zone. I have planted lilies in late November in a garden zone 3. Cold, takes time to chip the holes, but do-able :)

- Prune your small fruiting shrubs, fruit trees, and raspberries.
- Rake up and clean up fallen foliage around fruit trees, roses, shrubs ...

- Spray fruit trees, raspberry canes, cotoneasters, shrubs, and roses with a dormant oil/sulphur mix to kill and prevent pest and fungal problems next year. Do this when your trees and shrubs have lost their foliage and when temps are above freezing. Always read and follow the instructions on the label.

I potted up two rhubarb root pieces for forcing.
Both pots are in this bin, left outdoors for now and will soon be going into the warmth of the greenhouse.
Forcing rhubarb is like forcing bulbs to flower... the bulb/rootstock may or may not recover.
Therefore, I recommend that you use a piece of your plant, not the entire plant...just in case.
Forced rhubarb is ready to eat about a month earlier than the garden grown, and is less tart, more delicate in flavour.

- Lift your rhubarb plant, pot it up and move it into a dark and warm location for spring forcing...
Forcing can also be done in the garden by covering the rhubarb with a dark cloche (a pot, a willow or terra cotta cloche, a bin or box, etc...) in January. If you do the outdoor method of forcing, is best if you have two plants and alternate the forcing, as the forced one needs a year's recovery period.
The herb bed.

- Clean up and cut back your perennial veggie and herb beds, top dressing with compost or chicken manure.

- Continue to top dress all your beds with compost or manure. Do not mix in, just layer on top. The earth worms and winter rains will do the work for you.

What To Do Indoors In Preparation for Spring

- Make your garden layout plan of what goes where ... use pencil if you are at all like me, as I change my mind right up to and including planting day.

- Grab a glass of wine and get lost in all the fabulous, lovely seed catalogues.

- Journal your thoughts, ideas, plans, seed orders, hopes and wishes for your 2014 gardens.

- Start saving all your big 4 litre milk jugs for winter sowing ( get more from neighbours, friends and family members) .

- Order some perennial and hardy annual seeds for your winter sowing next month. Here is a list of what you might want to consider sowing in January. More on this next month.

Mahonia wreath.
Wear gloves when making this as the teeth on the foliage can be very sharp! 
This year's Christmas planters.
Keeping things light and bright with cypress, flowering cabbage, a burlap bow, mossy sticks
.... and a bit of twisty stems, just because.
~ ~ ~
Merry Christmas!


What Veggies To Plant In The Middle Of Summer?

Wondering what to plant in that empty garlic bed or in those empty pockets where the broccoli bolted? Concerned that there may not be ...