December Garden to do List

Planting

  • Cold-hardy transplants can be planted when the weather is mild.
  • Late December, start your early spring vegetables and ornamentals indoors.
  • Seeds in your greenhouse, if you have one, for transplants later in the spring.
  • Transplant fruit and nut trees when the weather is mild.  This is also a good time to start asparagus, berries, peas, grapes, onions, and potatoes.
  • You still have time to get your garlic planted if you haven’t already.

Fertilize

  • Continue to foliar feed your plants with compost tea or one of the commercially available organic liquid fertilizers weather permitting.  Don’t forget the potted plants still in your house.
  • Turfgrasses should be fed once this month with a mild organic fertilizer.  Humates are a good choice.

Pruning

  • Prune shade trees to remove dead or diseased limbs.  If necessary, prune out of place limbs or low hanging growth that may be a hazard.  Prune carefully and judiciously.
  • Remove ground covers from around the root flare of trees.  If your trees don’t have a visible root flare, this is a good time to expose those root flares.
  • Don’t deadhead your flowering annuals and perennials.  Leave the seeds for the birds.
  • Don’t prune fruit trees and grapes.  The best time to prune fruit trees and grapes is just before bud break in the spring.
  • If removing plants, don’t pull the root ball.  Shear the plant stock at the ground and leave the roots.  They will decompose and richen the soil.
  • Carefully prune evergreens to adjust their shape.

Watering

  • Turf – Water as needed.  Remember that deep, slow infrequent watering is better than short duration watering on a regular basis.  Turf should only be watered when needed, not on a regular schedule. Cut back on watering during the winter months when most turfgrasses are dormant.
  • Water potted plants and landscape plants as needed.

Pests and Diseases

  • Spot spray weeds with a 10% horticultural vinegar solution to control weeds. Adding orange oil can help.
  • Check houseplants for spider mites, scale, and aphids.  Spray as needed with organic pest controls.  Add whole ground cornmeal or dry granulated garlic to the soil.
  • Winter is a good time to remove mistletoe from trees.  It is easier to see and remove when the trees are bare.
  • If possible, leave some flowering weeds for the pollinators who remain active during the winter months.  Henbit, clover, and other wildflowers are essential to these insects during the winter.

Odd Jobs

  • If you have cold-hardy plants in the ground, help them along by putting floating row covers over them before extreme weather events.
  • Now is a good time to have soil tests run that will tell you about the organic matter and nutrients in your soil as well as level of biological activity.  CAUTION:  Most extension service soil reports do not provide this kind of information.  You will need to find a lab that performs these specialized tests.
  • Don’t rake up and remove the leaves from your trees.  Mulch them into your turf.  If you have too much, grind them finely and add sparingly to your compost pile, your landscape beds, or your garden beds.
  • Turn your compost pile
  • Continue to spot spray weeds with a 10% vinegar and water solution
  • Mulch any bare soil in your landscape
  • Feed and water the birds
  • Start preparing your garden beds for spring.  Apply rock minerals and a fresh layer of wood chip mulch to your garden beds.

DON’T!

  • Till your soil
  • Scalp your yard
  • Spray any synthetic man-made pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizer.

Links and Resources

For more information about organic gardening, lifestyles, and living, visit our website at West Texas Organic Gardening.

If you found the information here helpful, you might also find these articles on our website of interest.

Organic Growing Myths

Toss Your Tiller

Mulch

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