Well, according to popular culture there’s nothing to do in the garden in December as it will be buried under snow. But, here in New Zealand, while we can enjoy festivities on the beach, we’ll have to keep dreaming of a white Christmas because, in the garden, there’s work to be done!
General Gardening – hot holiday tips
If you’re heading away over Christmas please think of your garden! While we’re all out enjoying the weather, your plants and lawn may be parched. To avoid your Garden of Eden becoming a desert, remember to give it a good soaking, particularly fruiting trees, before you hit that dusty trail.
Set up a timed sprinkler system, where possible, or mulch – using grass clippings or Tui Pelletised Straw around plants to help them beat the heat.
Debco SaturAid is a magic little product, ideal for conserving water during dryer months. Also, water in the evening or early morning to further assist plants in retaining moisture.
A friend with weeds is a friend that you don’t need! Remember, particularly during the summer season when water is in short supply, there’s no need to feed the weed! Save valuable water for your plants by getting stuck into those weeds this month.
Vegetables & Fruit
Don’t let your hard work go to waste; herbs, and vegetables such as early carrots and peas need to be harvested before the hot weather truly sets in.
Anything that can be picked should be picked. Unless you want gorgeous courgettes to become massive, fat marrows, for example, it pays to be... picky!
Corn and tomatoes may need to be staked this month to control runaway growth.
Sow and sow: carrots, chilli peppers, beetroot, beans, swedes, beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, mustard, parsnips.
If you have friends or neighbours dropping by to pick up your paper, ask them to pick any ripe fruit while they’re there.
Feed those fruit trees well to ensure they will feed you well as the season progresses, and begin to thin grape and kiwifruit vines.
To nip fungal disease in the bud on pip and stone fruit, apply copper or fungal sprays.
And... enjoy your bounty as such fruits as pears, nectarines, strawberries, lemons and so many more become ripe for the picking!
As with all plants, water is more crucial than ever during dry summer months to successful gardening; don’t let your lovely blooms become droopy, unwanted wallflowers!
If you’re still planting perennials, remember to take special care to keep these beauties well watered.
Go easy with the secateurs when pruning this month; plants too can suffer sunburn!
Sow and sow: catnip, geraniums, marigolds, poppies, sunflowers and snapdragons.
Don’t just say it, spray it! Give your plants a healthy dose of what’s good for them before you go; otherwise, while the gardener’s away, the pests will play!
Caterpillars top our most wanted list this month as these nefarious little crawlers continue with their machinations to take over the world… starting with your garden! Use insecticide powder to combat these little blighters.
Leaf spot and fungal diseases are also common in December. Our friends in the garden, Tui, recommend their Eco-Fungicide to protect seedlings.
Whitefly continues to be a menace, as do those pesky slugs and snails. See November’s tips & tasks for some handy solutions for these tiny assassins.
Indoor / Container Gardening
Whether you’re going to the fair or staying at home this month, it’s ‘thyme’ for some ‘sage’ advice! Plant out those fresh summer herbs such as parsley, sage, rosemary, chives, basil and thyme in containers.
Move container plants closer together, particularly if you’re heading off on holiday. No, this is not so they don’t get lonely without you there to talk to them about their day! Located closer together, container plants will provide each other shelter from the sun, keeping them cooler and better able to retain moisture.
Mow, mow, mow your lawn... yes, ‘tis the season to fall in love with your lawn mower again as grass enjoys its days in the sun. Keep the mower raised though as, if cut too short, lawns will dry and die, and weeds will love you for it!
Continue applying nitrogen. Tui Lawn Fertiliser is high in nitrogen and contains phosphorus for solid root growth.
And don’t forget to slip, slop, slap and wrap when out in the garden this summer; while, at Garden-NZ we care about your plants, plants can be replaced... good gardeners can’t!