Tag Archives: December in the Southwest garden

If it weren’t for the last minute

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I once had a sign posted over my desk that proclaimed “If it weren’t for the last minute, a lot of things wouldn’t get done.” It was given to me by a co-worker. I never decided if it was meant as a joke or a suggestion that I change my ways.

Now, these many years later, I will allow that it was likely a suggestion, but one I’ve failed to follow. All this is to say, if you are like me, and haven’t quite finished your holiday shopping, I have some Last Minute suggestions for gifts for your favorite gardener.

This is the time of year when we gardeners love to read and dream about the gardens to come in a few short months. Here are a few books, most of which are available at Backyard Garden and Gifts (see my blogroll), which are designed to keep us, if not content, at least distracted until planting season comes around.

1. Native Plants for Southwestern Landscapes by Judy Mielke
2. Plants for Dry Climates (Sunset Books)
3. The Western Garden Book (Sunset Books)
4. Gardening in the Southwest (Sunset)
5. The Edible Garden
6. Sunset Western Garden Book of Edibles

If you’d rather not wrap a book, which to me is one of the simpler projects I encounter at this time of year, think about new gardening tools, a great pair of garden gloves, clogs that can be washed off at the outside spicket or a terrific hat. We may get muddy, but we still are conscious of our style.

There are also some great sales on outdoor pottery at this time of year. I don’t know a gardener who doesn’t love great pottery to set out in the garden. Speaking of setting out in the garden, there are wonderful gazing globes, and garden gnomes, and quaint signs that proclaim the names of the plants near them. I particularly love the brightly-painted, cut out signs for herbs. They just make me smile.

So there you have it. Some last minute ideas. Enjoy your shopping and the peace of the season.

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Put your feet up

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December, for most gardeners, is a time to put our feet up and dream of spring. At least, that’s what we did in Michigan. It seems though, that putting our feet up is allowable here in the southwest, as well. There are a few tasks that the garden demands first, though, but then we are free to begin browsing the seed catalogs and mentally redesigning our gardening spots.

First, to the tasks. Your tools would love to have you clean off all that caked-on dirt they’ve collected over the summer. Warm, soapy water works great. Oil any parts that are likely to rust, and store them in a spot where you will be able to find them in the spring. (As I get older the ability to find things I put away months before is becoming a greater and greater challenge.)

As I mentioned in the last post about roses, December is a good time to check all your trees and shrubs for dead or weak branches. Don’t give the winter winds an opening to attack your precious plants. While this kind of pruning is prudent (sorry, couldn’t help that one) major pruning should be left for the spring, unless the plant in question blooms on old growth. Then the pruning should already have been done. Give all your plants one last, thorough inspection, looking for any signs of weakness or infection. If you come across anything that puzzles you, check with your local nursery for their recommendations.

Finally, you may want to apply a layer of winter mulch to your perennials after the first few freezes.

Now, to the dreaming part. Here’s what I’m thinking for next year. I’m beginning to toy with what vegetables I can grow in containers, since I live in a community where digging holes for new planting is most easily accomplished with a jack hammer. I am not making this up.

I think I’m going to try hanging bags for tomatoes and maybe peppers from the two shepherd’s hooks that hold my bird feeders in the winter. Oops. Did I mention winter is a good time to help out our feathered friends with some extra seed?

Getting back to dreams of the spring, I wonder if I could plant some veggies like squash and cucumbers in whiskey barrels and trellis them to keep them from overwhelming the rest of the backyard landscaping. And, I’m definitely saving my pennies for the purchase of an Earthbox for salad greens. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Google Earthbox, or better yet, stop by Backyard Garden and Gifts (in my blog roll) to check them out.

Finally, I’m looking forward to the catalogs beginning to arrive once Christmas is a thing of the past. Now that I am gardening in a totally different environment from the one I knew so well, I peruse the pages with a new eye, one that is peeled for plants that can survive the blistering heat of our summers.

Next time, holiday gift suggestions for your favorite gardening friends.