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Garden Tip: December 2011

December Tip of The Month, from Linda Dodds, Master Gardener

With holiday preparations taking up so much valuable time, it’s easy to put off tending to December garden chores.  But there is still necessary work to be done in your gardens.  The gusty November winds did much more than just blow down the remaining leaves.  It also may have damaged tender branches from trees and shrubs.  As you walk through your garden looking for greenery to decorate your home, take a look at those bare branches.  If you see broken branches, cut them back to a joint.  The broken branches are much more than unsightly as they can become an opening for disease and insects to enter the plant.  A few minutes of your time may save a lot of heartache and work next year.
Consider a living tree this season
And instead of purchasing a dried out, sitting on a tree lot since before Thanksgiving tree for your home, why not purchase a living tree this year.  After the holidays you can either keep it in a container on the patio for another year or so or plant it in your yard to be enjoyed by our local birds and wildlife.  That is conservation in it’s most celebrated purity.

If you have chosen to put off the dreaded lawn maintenance project of fertilizing your lawn, you still have time early in the month to apply some.  Ask your nurseryman for the correct fall and winter fertilizer to apply to your grass.  And while I am on the subject of lawns, this would be a good month for the handyman in your home to winterize the lawn mower too.  They do need maintenance just like any other motorized gadget.

Even those spring flowering bulbs that you purchased earlier and forgot to plant can still be planted this month as long as the ground isn’t frozen too hard to dig a proper hole for them.  Just think of them as spring blooming decorations you are putting out while you are putting up your outside decorative lights.

I’m not crazy about taking a lot of time to pull weeds either this month, but if you keep passing by a previously hidden dandelion or emerging chickweed plants, take a moment to pull them up and add them to the compost pile.  After all, we all need a little exercise to work off those Thanksgiving calories.

Have a festive and joyous Christmas season!