Gardening Tasks for December
Gardening Tasks for December
December is a very busy month in the home garden with plants growing rapidly, and the Christmas holidays not too far away. First of the summer vegetables can be harvested towards the end of the month – and don’t forget strawberries!
Often in summer, there is the dilemma of deciding what to grow and how much of each variety. In other words, how best to ration available growing space in the vegetable garden. Where space allows, plant beans (climbing and dwarf), beetroot, cabbage, carrots, corn, celery, cucumber, melons, radish, spinach, silver beet, and zucchini/courgette.
Add fresh compost to the soil before planting a new crop and water young plants every other day – increase if needed. Tie up both beans and tomatoes regularly, as they grow rapidly.
Vegetables to harvest include asparagus, beetroot, broad beans, green beans, cabbage, carrots, lettuce, onion, peas, potatoes, silver beet, and spinach.
Keep planting summer annuals – there are many to choose from in vibrant colours and forms, such as asters, ageratum, celosias, marigolds, petunias, salvias, strawflowers, and zinnias.
Earwigs like to nibble on dahlias this time of year. They are not usually an issue in the garden and actually play an important role in its ecosystem. Earwigs are nocturnal and hide in damp, dark areas. To manage them, make bamboo stake traps - they hide in the hollow stems. Poke thick bamboo stakes into the ground at night next to your plant (careful not to damage the roots/tuber). In the morning, pull them up and tap out the earwigs (dispose of them however you wish). Alternatively, commercial traps from garden centres, or Neem oil sprays and soil granules, are effective.
Fungal diseases black spot and rust have already started appearing on roses. They spread quickly so act immediately by removing any diseased leaves and commence spraying - talk to your local garden centre for the best product.
After the first full flush of flowers has finished, a light summer prune can be carried out by removing any diseased, weak growth or overlapping branches. Apply a final side dressing Daltons Premium Rose Fertiliser in early December. Keep removing dead flowers to encourage new blooms.
Early maturing cherries then plums and peaches begin to ripen towards the end of the month. Let the fruit fully ripen to achieve maximum taste! Protect your fruit from birds with netting if they are a nuisance. Keep fertilising young fruit trees, pip, stone, and citrus trees until mid-December and apply mulch to help retain soil moisture.
Strawberries & Raspberries
Time to harvest your strawberries! To protect fruit from birds, as with fruit trees, cover with bird netting. Refresh pea straw and/or clean crushed bark around plants to keep ripening strawberries off the soil and reduce the risk of rot and disease.
Juicy raspberries are also ready to be harvested. Continue to tie up canes as plant growth is exceptionally vigorous this time of year!
Holiday Garden Prep
Before you head away, ensure you have a garden care plan in place. Water is vital - consider installing irrigation and a timer or ask neighbours to water your garden deeply a few times a week. Mulching with Daltons Mulch and Grow will help keep the soil cool in your absence. Harvest anything that is almost ripe and ensure plants that need support are well-staked and secured. Weed your garden so they are not competing with your plants for water and nutrients.
Herbs love the summer heat, however, some do ‘go to seed’ quickly and will need to be replaced. Check plants regularly for slugs, snails, and caterpillars as they are all very partial to eating herbs. Grow mint in a large container otherwise, this one herb will dominate an entire herb garden!
As the hot, dry weather approaches, raise the level of mower blades to avoid cutting the lawn too close. Irrigate when required in the cooler hours of the day i.e., early morning or early evening. Ensure that there is sufficient water to soak into the roots of your grass.
Inspect plants regularly for any signs of insects eg: white fly and mealy bugs, or fungal diseases. Mist houseplant leaves daily, as the air can dry out quickly in some homes.