What to Do in the Garden in December
It’s possible that zone 7 may not have had a hard freeze in the garden in December. You could be gardening and picking out your Christmas tree.
What to do in the garden in December
Depending on the year, winter can still be gardening season. Hopefully, we will have had a frost and the nasty squash bugs will all be dead for now, but you never know. The winter months still bring garden chores.
Gardening in winter
Some plants may still be growing even without cold frames or hoop houses. Likely your kale may be fine and brussel sprouts. Of course, garlic is growing and any winter grains like wheat. Should you be fussing over your plants in December? At Little Sprouts we don’t. We just let the earth do its thing. There should be plenty of rain in winter and we have mulched our crops so they should take care of themselves.
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With the exception of basil, most of the herbs should still be hanging in there, so you can go and harvest a bit of this or that. If you’ve had a hard freeze (under 26) you probably won’t find any herbs until next season when they grow back on their own if they are perennial.
December garden chores
I make sure my bird feeders are full in the winter. I don’t fill them in summer because the squirrels and raccoons will tear them down trying to get to the seeds. But once the raccoons go into hibernation and the squirrels are less prevalent, I fill them for the winter birds. If we have a snow or ice storm, I will sprinkle seeds around on chairs and table tops because I know that animals can’t forage as much when everything is covered.
Have a thick layer of leaves or straw on all the garden beds to keep them from eroding in the rains and winds of winter. If you haven’t mulched yet, now is a great time to finish that. You can also mulch around the base of trees to protect their roots over the winter months.
Compost is still in operation in winter so mix and stir that and of course keep adding kitchen scraps and garden debris.
Gardening in December
Christmas comes in December and there will be plenty of compostables involved in that. You can use your food scraps (no meat), wrapping paper, newspaper, junk mail, and even your leftover live garland in the compost heap. If you cut your tree up, it can go in there too.
Winter gardening jobs
By December, we are usually still cutting plants off and putting the leftover debris in the compost heap. We have over 50 raised beds, so garden clean up usually goes from September until February or so. So, we don’t get in a big hurry. We don’t pull plants, we just cut them off at ground level so the roots can decompose right in the soil and add more nutrients to our garden beds.
You can also be top dressing your garden beds with finished compost and let the worms and microorganisms work that in over the winter months. I like to dump compost on the top, smooth it out with a rake and then top it with straw mulch.
I stop by and check in on plants such as garlic, but don’t really do too much to them. If you want to garden all winter, you can check out how to garden in cold frames here. I am putting up produce such as pepper strings that are still drying and bundles of herbs I cut right before frost and have hanging to dry.
Also, check on your winter storage items such as winter squashes, onions, potatoes, garlic, carrots, and apples to make sure none have gone bad, so you can remove them from the storage area if they did. This way you’ll prevent losing other storage items next to them.
We even usually still have tomatoes in December. Before the last frost, we pick all the green tomatoes and wrap them in newspaper. Then one by one they will ripen and we still have some fresh tomatoes even until Christmas. Give it a try sometime. It’s pretty cool!
What to do in the garden now
If the weather is tolerable, enjoy the winter signs in the garden. The December garden is full of cardinals and other song birds. Frost on the remaining plants or snow is a beautiful sight. Studying garden catalogs and matching things you want to grow up with your garden map. Pouring over varieties and choosing seeds to order next month. Making sure home saved seeds are in airtight containers and not attracting moisture. There is still plenty of garden magic happening in December.
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