Maritime Northwest Victory Gardener’s Almanack for the month of December

winter organic garden toolsMike Dunton’s Maritime Northwest Edition Victory Gardener’s Almanack for the month of December

December tends to be a continuation of our region’s seasonally wet weather but
can occasionally get snowy. The primary difference between this month and last is that the days are getting colder and shorter as the Winter Solstice arrives. This is the time of year for reflection and celebration. Hopefully you can enjoy the fruits of your summer gardening efforts by incorporating them into your holiday season feasts.

In the Vegetable Garden
• Cover-cropped garden spaces need little attention this month.
• If you planted a winter garden, take time to remove damaged and yellowing
leaves, inspect plants for insect and disease issues, and apply mulch around the
plants for protection and to prevent weeds.
• Use newspaper covered with compost, mulch, straw or leaves to feed the soil
and suppress weeds in areas with bare soil.
• If the paths between your rows are muddy, try a layer of cardboard covered with
straw or sawdust.
• Periodically check on any stored produce, such as squash. Use anything that is
ripening and discard anything that is beginning to spoil.

In the House
• This is a good time to look after the needs of your houseplants.
• Water your houseplants in the morning. Foliage should be dry by nightfall
• During the cool, dark days of winter, it is a good idea to stop feeding (fertilizing)
your houseplants. The exception being your holiday poinsettias.
• Many houseplants such as poinsettias originated in warmer climates. Keep them
in the sunniest, warm areas , but leaves should not touch cold window glass.
• If a Christmas tree is part of your family’s December tradition, be sure to cut off
one-quarter to one-half inch off of the base immediately before putting the tree
into a water filled tree stand. Check water level daily.
• If you heat your home with oil, gas, pellets, wood, etc. – check and maintain
equipment periodically. Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

snow on organic garden gateIn the Yard and Orchard
• Inspect, clean and refill bird feeders. Winter food sources are meager.
• Don’t walk on lawns until frost has melted.
• Turn off or insulate outside faucets, and drain sprinkler systems.
• Clean gutters and correct other drainage problems in the yard.
• Keep leaves and debris off of your lawns and beds and add to your compost
piles or use as mulch.
• Heavily mulch rhubarb, artichokes and roses to protect from freezing.
• Mulched shrubs and young trees can attract rodents. Wrap the trunks with
quarter-inch or smaller wire mesh cloth and use traps if desired.
• If you have shrubs in protected areas, for example under the eaves, remember
to keep them watered.
• Periodically check your stored flower bulbs and tubers. Dispose of those showing
signs of rot or disease.
• December is a good time of year to plant or move trees and shrubs.

Mike Dunton is the founder of the Victory Seed Company and one of the early signers of the Safe Seed Pledge. The Victory Seed Company works to preserve rare, threatened, heirloom seeds and to make them available to home gardeners. 

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