December Garden Tips

This month it is official, winter is finally here! The hustle and bustle of both the growing and harvest seasons has faded and been replaced by the holidays.

winter-frost-on-plantsAs a result, our focus shifts away from the garden this month. The gardening season isn’t done however; many of us find ourselves bringing the outdoors inside with all of our holiday decorations. Festive decor includes everything from trees, branches, garlands and boughs. Build on this tradition by planting an indoor herb garden to add freshness to your home cooked meals or plant a citrus tree that can be moved outside in the spring. For now, these will add another dimension to your indoor holiday greenery. If, by chance, you have the time to be out in the garden during the holidays, here are a few chores that can be done this time of year.

Flower Gardens

If the temperatures are warm, give pansies and other winter flowers that might be blooming a light feeding. Use a weak solution of liquid fertilizer or compost tea.

Insulate flowers and vegetables from freezing temperatures by placing plastic jugs filled with water between rows to collect heat during the day and radiate it back at night. Be sure to bury them a few inches into the soil.covered-planter-box

You may be able to begin shopping in garden centers for bare roses. Plant them soon after purchase, making sure to mulch them with a few inches of LFP Compost, Blended Mint Compost or any Fir Bark.

Use landscape fabric, burlap or old blanket to protect camellias, rhododendrons and broadleaf evergreens if temperatures drop to below 20 F.

Depending on the weather, there’s a possibility you can still plant bulbs, corms and rhizomes, if you can work the soil; be sure to add some phosphate-rich fertilizer in the hole as you plant.

Protect new plants from wind with stakes, wires and/or windbreaks.

Hardy landscape trees and shrubs can still be planted. Visit our Glenwood Corner Store for a wide selection.

Vegetable Gardens

Tend to producing crops by cleaning out any dead or dying plants or leaves. Mulch 2” to 3” deep with LFP Garden Compost.

cold-frame

Add a second layer of row cover to help protect your leafy greens. Spinach, lettuce and collards should have the covers removed during the day and re-placed at night – this way, they will continue to grow and produce throughout the winter months.

You can continue to plant onions, chives, mustard, spinach, peas, beets and radishes, and plant additional lettuce in a cold frame. Kale can still be planted. It will grow slowly, but it will grow. As weather allows, continue to harvest in your garden.

Cut back asparagus fronds.

Fruit Gardens

Cover strawberries with a floating row cover; this way they will produce earlier and be able to tolerate a harsh winter.

Select and plant bare root fruit trees as they become available. Be sure to apply a few inches of mulch after planting for protection.

Indoor Plants & Herbs

mushroom-growing-kit

You can grow your own mushrooms indoors. Try investing in a mushroom kit when you have time away from the garden. These are simple to use and yield a delicious harvest.

Protect poinsettias from the cold by placing them in direct sunlight, far enough not let their leaves touch cold windows or their color will begin to turn.

Outdoor plants in pots will need sheltering from frosty weather. Protect the roots in the pots by ‘healing them in’ with LFP Fir Bark around the pot.

 

 

You can plant bean & wheat sprouts indoors to add some excitement to your sandwiches. This is also a very fun way to give children an introduction to gardening. It will be a fascinating way to teach them where food comes from by growing their own ‘salad’ greens with the sprouts.

Experiment with growing indoor amaryllis flowers which will offer your home aroma and color.

Check houseplants for adequate moisture. Heating systems in winter can dry out your indoor plants much more than expected. Also, many tropical plants will begin to show new growth soon, so consider fertilizer for them if they haven’t received any recently.indoor-herb-garden

 

Try starting an indoor herb garden as your outdoor garden requires less attention. Basil, Chives, Oregano, Parsley, Thyme and Sage are popular choices. Make sure you have a good light source, either near a window or using a grow lamp.

 

 

Lawn Maintenance

With the cold temperatures, do not step on your lawn until after the frost has melted. Walking on it when it’s frozen can cause severe damage to the foliage.

Set your lawn mower to a lower-cut for winter months. This allows whatever sun shine there is to penetrate the root system and discourage molds, rusts and red thread.

Various Jobs Around Your Oregon Garden

Dormant trees and shrubs can be transplanted.

Turn your compost pile. Protect your compost pile from heavy rains if necessary.

Water plants before temperatures drop drastically. If frost comes without warning, watering afterwards will also help them survive. Do not forget to check plants under the eaves or under large evergreen trees. These locations could be very dry, despite lots of rain. A dry plant will suffer more during very cold weather. If you use a hose to water, be sure to drain both it AND the nozzle after use.garden-tools

Now is a perfect time to clean your tools. Sand off any rust and sharpen the blades. Oil or paint them as needed. Applying linseed oil after washing your gardening tools will keep them from rusting in winter months. Cleaning your tools will not only keep them in good working order but will also decrease the chances of spreading diseases.

Drainage issues in the landscape can appear during periods of heavy rain. Tilling and trenching offer good short-term solutions. Consider rain gardens, French drains or bio-swales for a longer term solution.

Remember to gather leaves for mulching, composting or digging into the soil should you desire, or bring them to Lane Forest Products for recycling.

Monitor your landscape plants for damage or disease.

Check for signs of rodents around the base of large shrubs and trees. Remove weeds to prevent critters from getting too comfortable.

Avoid mounding mulch around the trunks of trees and shrubs. The mulch will hold moisture and create rot in the tree bark/trunk.

Check your stored flower bulbs, vegetables, and fruits for rot or fungus. Dispose of anything questionable.

Tie limbs of columnar evergreens to prevent snow and/or ice damage.

Weed garden beds and apply 2” – 3” of mulch.

Start to build beds for spring by adding lots of compost. LFP Garden Compost about 3” deep will do. Then just before planting time in the spring, add LFP Barnyard Compost or VeggieBoost Compost. Till into the soil about 6” to 12” deep (depending on what you will be planting).

Keep your garden beds clean to reduce pest and disease issues.winter-bird-feeder

Prepare your garden design and plan for the upcoming spring.
Top off bird feeders with food for the winter months and be sure they have fresh water available. In the winter it can be very hard for birds to find water that is frost-free and they need to drink daily.

You can reduce home insect invasions from firewood by bringing in only enough wood to burn for the day. Knock logs together or against the ground to shake insects off.