Gardening Tasks for December
Get your garden ready for Christmas!
Time to have the home garden looking its best for Christmas visitors, and to harvest fresh vegetables for the Christmas meal! Hot, dry months lie ahead so now is the time to start preparing your garden.
As daytime temperatures increase, think about repositioning your houseplants - some may need to be moved away from windows on the north side of your home. If you haven’t fertilised your houseplants yet, feed them with Daltons Premium Houseplant Tabs. Increase the amount and regularity of watering over warmer months, remembering that different houseplants have differing water requirements. A small hand mister is an excellent way of keeping houseplant leaves healthy over the summer months.
New season’s potatoes can be dug up for the Christmas meal! Other vegetables to harvest include beans, beetroot, cabbage, courgettes, lettuce, radish, and silverbeet. Regularly plant quick maturing vegetables e.g., dwarf beans, lettuce, and radish. Apply side dressings of Daltons Garden Time Vegetable Fertiliser to slow-maturing summer vegetables such as sweet corn and tomatoes.
Those planted in spring should now be in full flower including alyssum, ageratum, cornflower, cosmos, marigolds, petunias, portulacas, salvias, strawflowers, and zinnias. Brighten up decks or patios with mass plantings of flowers in tubs and containers – experiment and try different combinations of plants. Keep deadheading (the removal of dead flowers) to encourage continuous flowering.
Raspberries and Strawberries
Usually, there will be a substantial crop of raspberries in December as they grow very quickly. Remove excess canes that can appear at this time of the year. The best part about growing your own raspberries is that there will be a second crop early in the new year!
Ripe strawberries should be in abundance throughout December. Birds adore strawberries so cover plants with bird netting. Renew the pea straw or crushed bark around the plants to provide a clean bed for the ripening strawberries. You can never have too many strawberries so consider expanding the strawberry patch next year!
As we near the end of the month, the first plums, such as Wilson’s Early begin to ripen. All fruit trees will be in active growth, though some will require a light summer pruning where branches become excessively crowded. Water and mulch young specimens that were planted this winter.
Herbs thrive in the heat of summer and production from the herb garden should be bountiful! Remove any flowers that appear early on your herb plants. Trim plants regularly as this promotes fresh and new growth. The most flavoursome of all herbs, ‘pinch out’ the growing tips of basil plants to encourage a bushy habit.
Apply Daltons Premium Rose Fertiliser early in the month, recommencing again in mid-March. Continue deadheading as this promotes repeat flowering. Inspect rose bushes for early signs of fungal diseases and aphid attacks. Mulch with Daltons Garden Time Compost or other organic materials to retain moisture in the soil.
The last application of Daltons Premium Lawn Fertiliser can be made early in the month. Where water supply allows, irrigate the lawn or parts of the lawn that appear to be drying out. Water early in the day or late afternoon to maximise water use.
An ideal way to cultivate flowers, herbs, and salad vegetables, especially in smaller properties or apartments. Always use fresh container mix when starting a new ‘crop’ as it is free draining and includes essential nutrients. If you are heading away this Christmas, ask a neighbour to water your pots, or alternatively cut them back quite hard before departing which reduces the need for watering. You can also put containers under trees where there is dappled light, so they don’t dry out as quickly.
Care for the home garden during your summer holiday
After all the hard work of planting and caring for your vegetable garden, you don’t want to abandon it right when it is flourishing. Again, ask friends, or family members to water your vegetable garden while you are away. Alternatively, invest in a water timer which will operate automatically. Summers are becoming longer almost yearly and therefore, there are at least three more warm months in which to cultivate a vast number of vegetables and enjoy summer flowering annuals!