Are there gardening tasks to check off the list in December?

Absolutely! Granted, not as many as in the heavy growing months, but when it comes to the garden, there are always things that need doing. As we close out another year of gardening, here’s the December checklist:

  1. Check your stored bulbs — Even in southern Oregon where rainfall levels are typically less than surrounding areas, when there’s moisture in the air, bulbs stored in cool, dark places (which is where they’re supposed to be stored) can show signs of fungus and rot. If you find any contaminated bulbs, throw them out and continue monitoring the remaining ones.
  2. Stir your compost pile —If you have a compost pile in your yard, be sure to stir it during the winter months. If heavy rains are in the forecast, it’s a good idea to cover the pile to avoid excessive moisture until the threat is over.
  3. Keep up on your yard maintenance — Staying on top of basic yard maintenance even in the winter — raking leaves, pulling winter weeds, removing withered perennials and mulching flower beds with Rogue Fine Compost — will keep your yard in good shape and make things easier to prepare for spring.
  4. Watch where you walk — Walking on your lawn when it’s covered with frost or snow can damage the grass. So whenever possible, keep off the grass until the frost has melted and the snow is gone.
  5. Don’t mulch up against tree trunks — Mulching around trees and shrubs is a great idea. But there’s a caveat. Be sure to leave a ring of bare soil around the trunk area. Mulching up against the trunk can damage the tree or shrub. Avoid over-mulching or mound mulching too, as that can provide a warm winter home for unwanted rodents.
  6. Protect newer plants from winter winds — With less groundcover and bare deciduous trees in the winter, new landscape plants you’ve added over the past few months can really get pummeled by the wind. Consider adding stakes with padded wires or windbreaks as needed.
  7. Remember to water — It may sound counterintuitive, but even in the winter, plants need water. Odds are rain and snow take care of that for most plants. But if you have trees or shrubs in protective areas that don’t get much moisture, remember to water them regularly throughout the winter.
  8. Help your evergreen shrubs escape winter damage — Snow and ice accumulated on your evergreens can cause them to droop, or worse, break. If you have tall, upright evergreens, tie strings around the limbs to minimize the effects of snow and ice.
  9. Check in on your indoor plants too — During times of heavy garden activity, it’s easy to forget about any indoor plants you may have. In the winter, these plants need less water and fertilizer, but they still need some. Take a look at your houseplants and tend to any needs they may have.
  10. Make sure your poinsettias stay warm — Poinsettias are a mainstay of the December holiday season. Yet despite the time of year, they like it warm. So try and place them in areas inside your house that get plenty of sunlight. And don’t let the leaves touch the cold windows. To maintain a healthy and vibrant leaf color, fertilize with houseplant fertilizer.

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