Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

December, 2005
Regional Report

Clean Up the Garden

Sweep, rake, hoe, shovel, and clean your garden so that it is ready for winter. Leave no places for insects to hide. Clean your tools so they are ready when the urge to garden strikes!

Care for Gift Plants

Poinsettias, Christmas cacti, and cyclamen all need a little loving care to get them through the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Provide light and humidity, and keep them free from drafts. To increase humidity, place gravel in the saucer beneath the plant. Don't set gift plants on heat-producing appliances, such as televisions or stereos.

Shop for Bare-Root Bargains

Bare-root plants will start showing up in nurseries and garden centers this month. Bare root is the most economical and stress free (from the plant's point of view) way to plant, plus it has the benefit of allowing plants to adapt to native soils. Look for roses, fruit trees, berries, and asparagus, plus many other varieties of dormant or deciduous stock. If you can't plant right away, store the bare-root plants in damp moss so the roots don't dry out.

Watch Out for Cold Temps

This is the time of year when hard freezes sneak up on unsuspecting gardeners. Clear windless days turn into freezing cold nights. Protect citrus and other tender plants by covering them with old sheets or bedspreads when frost is predicted. Move tender container plants under the eaves or against a south-facing wall. If plants do become damaged by frost, wait until spring to prune. Although the wood may look dead, it protects the live wood inside the plant. Pruning also encourages new growth, which may be nipped by frosts later in the season.

Feed the Birds

Keep birdbaths and feeders clean and full. Migrating birds will appreciate an overnight rest stop on their long journey south. Put out slices of fruit and grapes for robins, blue jays, and cedar waxwings. Hummingbirds, especially, need fuel, so keep those feeders full!

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