Gardening This Weekend: December 7, 2017
Mid-December brings its own unique gardening tasks. Here are the most critical. I’ll list them in short form so you can get right onto them.
• Tulips and Dutch hyacinths that have had their 45 days of “pre-chilling” in the refrigerator at 45 degrees. Soils have cooled sufficiently. Plant the bulbs 2-3 times as deep as they are tall and fairly close together for best show. Daffodils and grape hyacinths should also be planted soon. They do not require the pre-chilling.
• Winter color from pansies, violas, pinks, snapdragons, ornamental cabbage and kale, sweet alyssum, stocks, ornamental Swiss chard, cyclamen (require protection below 28 F) and other cool-season bloomers. Plant tender types in pots so you can move them into protection if you’re in a colder area. Let your certified nursery professional guide you.
• Erratic growth and damaged branches from shrubs and trees.
• Old growth and dried stalks from perennials to tidy up for winter.
• Mow lawn one final time to remove last of fallen leaves. Mowing will also eliminate many of the rank broadleafed winter weeds.
• Pansies and other winter annuals with water-soluble, high-nitrogen plant food to promote vigorous growth during winter warm spells.
• Compost with ammonium sulfate granules, one cup per cubic yard of compost every 4 to 8 weeks. Turn and mix pile as you include the fertilizer. Keep pile warm and moist by covering with black polyethylene plastic film.
ON THE LOOKOUT
• Cover winter annuals and other tender vegetation with lightweight frost cloth from a local independent retail garden center when extreme cold is expected. Do not use plastic film. It heats up too quickly in morning sun.
• Houseplants for signs of population explosions of scale, mealy bugs and white flies. These pests have no natural predators when we move plants indoors.