December Garden Chores

Take care when pruning freeze-damaged plants

Although we expect this winter to be dryer and warmer than usual, this doesn’t preclude an occasional freeze. As a result, don’t prune freeze-damaged plants until spring. The damaged parts do provide some insulation against possible future freezes. Additionally, pruning may cause plants to send out leaves during warm days this winter. If another freeze arrives, this new greenery will die, and the damage may kill the plant as well.

Plant spring-flowering bulbs this month. Don’t worry about planting them this month. In southeast Texas, the ground does not freeze, even though we may have freezing temperatures above ground.

Weeds in December

Mow winter weeds before they go to seed. Most of these weeds are annuals and propagate by spreading their seeds instead of root systems.

Cold weather vegetables

If you have a winter vegetable garden, make sure they get enough water and fertilizer. Pull winter weeds from the garden as quickly as they emerge. Cover tender crops in the event of freeze.

Frost-susceptible crops (those which will be killed or injured by temperatures below 32 degrees F) include bush beans, summer squash, cucumbers, sweet corn, lima beans, okra, peppers and charry tomatoes. Also, cantaloupes, eggplant, Irish potatoes, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, watermelon, and winter squash.

Frost-tolerant crops (those which can withstand temperatures below 32 degrees F) include beets, lettuce, mustard, radish, spinach, turnips, turnip greens, broccoli, carrots, Chinese cabbage, green onions, kohlrabi, parsley, Brussels sprouts, bulb onions, cabbage, cauliflower, and garlic.

Remember your backyard friends during December

Don’t forget your backyard friends. Put out bird feeders, and add a birdbath. Birds particularly need water during the winter months. Plant a small pollinator garden so that bees, butterflies, and other desirable insects can feed.

Ordering Seed Catalogs are a MUST December chore.

Although most seed companies have online catalogs, many gardeners like the old-fashioned paging through seed catalogs made of paper. Now’s the time to order them.

Christmas gifts for the gardener

There are many great landscaping books that you can give to a loved one, a friend, or yourself. Some titles include:                                                                                                           

  • Texas Home Landscaping by Greg Grant and Roger Holmes
  • Perennial Garden Color by William Welch
  • Native Texas Plants by Sally and Andy Wasowski
  • Month-By-Month Gardening by Robert “Skip” Richter
  • Gardening in The Humid South by Edmund N. O’Rourke and Leon C Standifer
  • The Louisiana Urban Gardener by Kathryn K. Fontenot
  • Maverick Gardeners by Felder Rushing
  • One Writer’s Garden by Susan Haltom and Jane Roy Brown

Other gifts might include a drip irrigation system. They are inexpensive and easy to install—Garden tools and Seeds are other potential gifts.