Spending December in the Garden can be a great way to spend the festive season and bring the family together.
If you are spending the festive season at home, it’s time for some last-minute tweaking to get your garden ready for festivities. If you are planning on going away for the holidays there are a few ways to ensure your garden stays looking good and in tip-top condition during your absence.
Ode to the apricot tree! If you grew up in an old suburban area with a large backyard and are asked which garden tree you have the fondest memories of, there’s a good chance it will be the apricot tree… Find delicious recipes using freshly picked and home grown apricots.
Bedding Plant of the Month
When one hears the word “Marigold” it’s virtually impossible not to think of the gorgeous golden colour that many marigolds offer us. Offering their warm sunny colours for most of the year, outlasting many other annuals, it’s a little difficult to imagine that they are actually associated with grief, jealousy and cruelty in their native land, Mexico. Still used today in a Day of the Dead ceremonies, it is the Virgin Mary that inspired the name, meaning Mary’s Gold.
What to do in the garden this December:
- Lift lawn-mower blades to allow the grass to grow longer, thus protecting the roots from the heat of the sun and from drying winds.
- Do water tomatoes and cucumbers, squash and pumpkins early in the morning – to avoid blight and mildew from developing on these.
- Now is a good time to take advantage of the warmer days and clean out your garden pond.
If you are going away over December, we have a few tasks that you should consider tackling before you go:
- Renew mulch in the beds – especially if you are going away for the holidays.
- Arrange for a friend or family member to mow your lawn. Long grass attracts burglars and if unchecked, it may prove hard to get it back into shape when you return.
- Add re-wetting granules or peat to the soil of container plants. This will increase their water holding capacity so a good solid watering will last a long time.
- Pick vegetables regularly. If you are going away, ask a friend or neighbour to do this for you.
What to Plant:
- Now is the time to plant melons, sweet potatoes, cucumber, egg plants, peppers and the last tomatoes for the season.
- Make further plantings of baby marrow, patty pans, corn, lettuce and baby gem squash.
- Parsley is one of the most popular edibles. It has a vibrant taste, highly nutritious and a good source of folic acid. The most popular types are the curly leaved and the Italian flat leaf. Take a few sprigs and chop up for that extra garnish.
- Rocket is a fast growing and hardy plant, which is easy to grow, and loves compost rich soil. They produce peppery flavoured leaves that will add that extra flavour to any green salad. The flowers as well as seed is also edible and will make your salad complete.
- Now is a good time to plant marigolds, sunflowers, cosmos, zinnias and nasturtiums. Have some fun and make a tee pee for you nasturtiums to grow on.
- Petunia, dianthus, Cuphea species, Polygala myrtifolia, roses, Magnolia grandiflora, can also be planted now.
- Plectranthus mona lavender, fuchsias, acorus and violets are perfect for shady gardens.
What to Sow:
Sow seeds of beetroot, sweet corn, Swiss chard and carrot in the veggie garden. Sow seed of winter broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower in seed trays.
What to Spray:
- Garden bugs are going wild in gardens, especially in the veggie patch. Be vigilant at controlling pests before they get out of hand. There are many new Organic pesticides on the market, to help control these problems.
- Keep an eye out for break outs of red spider mite during hot, dry weather.
- Control caterpillars with biological caterpillar insecticide. This won’t harm the food chain. Spray fruit trees and vegetables with fruit fly baits to control the spread of fruit fly. Look out for the new organic fruit fly baits.
- Spray Rosecare or use Complete on your roses.
Pests to watch for:
• Scale on citrus trees
• Orange Dog caterpillar on citrus trees, spray with Garden Ripcord
• Tip-wilters on the soft tips of roses, dahlias and abelias
• Fruit fly on pumpkins, squashes and fruit trees.
• Codling moth on apples and pears (wrap sticky tape around the base of the tree)
• Amaryllis caterpillar on crinums and other bulbous plants
• Mildew on roses, dahlias and cleomes
• Whitefly on beans and fuchsias
• Rust on hollyhocks
• Pear slug on peaches, cherries prunus and ornamentals
• Outbreak of red spider mite during hot, dry weather
What to Feed:
- To transform lawns into a lush green swathe for Christmas, feed with a high nitrogen fertilizer and water well. If you are going away, do not feed the lawn.
- Give citrus trees their mid-season feed of 6:1:5 granular fertilizer or an organic equivalent spread evenly over the drip line 20-30cm away from stem.
- Feed roses with 8:1:5