By Jane Gates
Signal Staff Writer
Hopefully, everyone had a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving. Now we’re on to the last round of holidays for 2020. It is impossible to know what the winter weather will be this year, but prepare for extreme cold, heat, rain, frost, wind, drought and wildfires as best you can! We can get any or all of it!
While the rest of the nation battles freezing temperatures and snow, we get to work outdoors in the garden. Cool weather makes this a good month for construction projects and short days make it easy for new or transplanted plants to settle in. Winter vegetables should be growing comfortably in the vegetable garden and the promise of rain should coax up wildflowers.
You can also plant started vegetables from multi-packs. Snap up the last of the best winter vegetables still available for sale. Or, plant seed for later crops of peas, cabbages, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, fava beans, lettuces, radishes, Swiss chard, etc.
Plant root crops like carrots, radishes, and beets from seed, too. And try some less traditional edible root plants like celeriac, parsnip and salsify for variety. Root crops are best planted from seed since they don’t like transplanting. Most vegetables do well with aged manure — all manure should be aged at least four months to destroy potentially dangerous bacteria. But if you are expecting to grow long, straight carrots, avoid adding manure of any kind to your soil as it can encourage the roots to fork.
This is a good time to keep up with weeding. The tiny plants that germinate right after rain pull easily. You may even want to replace those weeds with some California wildflower plants. Scattering wildflower seed is a handy way to fill up open areas or an empty garden with color for springtime. Just scatter seeds the day before rain is likely and let nature plant them for you.
Prune dormant trees and shrubs. Sap is flowing more slowly and trees will suffer less stress from cuts or wounds. As the final leaves fall this month, you can shred them and add them to your compost heap.
Pop early spring-blooming bulbs into flower beds or a cutting garden. There is a wide choice of bulbs available now to add colorful flowers to an evergreen garden, add perfume to ordinary plant areas, supply cut flowers or just add excitement to any planter or garden.
Think about adding new sections to the garden, removing lawn, building a raised vegetable garden or working on some garden designing. This is the best time to get projects and plans in gear before the spring rush. Start by listing what you want to do and the materials that will be involved, sketch out a design of the area and how it will go together, then price out and buy your materials so you have everything organized before you start the project.
Keep on planting those hardy annual flower seeds, plants, shrubs and trees. Other hardy plants will likely transplant easily with the moister soil, gentler temperatures and shorter days of December. Make sure the newly planted don’t dry out in spells when there is no rain, and toss a cover of light burlap over them on frosty nights for protection.
Pore through garden furniture, plant and seed catalogs online or printed. They provide a delightful way to spend a cold, windy or rainy day and will give you some interesting ideas for your garden. And check out some of the local garden centers for fun garden holiday gifts. You might find a gift or two that you and your garden deserve after putting in a year of care and hard work. Some gifts might make work easier, like some useful tools.
Other gifts will make gardening healthier to do, like hats, gloves, sunscreen, knee pads and more. And still others might just plain be fun, like décor, games, books, and clothes. When in doubt, gift your gardening friends (or yourself) with a gift certificate for shopping in the future!
December is an ideal time to take on outdoor projects while the weather is comfortable for work. You can add new sections to the garden, plant lawns, build a raised vegetable garden or add some decorative garden edging so your landscape will shine come the spring season. And make sure you provide a spot for rest and relaxation in your garden. If you already have one, I repeat, use it during the hectic holidays!
For more information about gardening in the Santa Clarita Valley, visit Jane Gates on YouTube at https://youtube.com/user/Janieg8s.