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.