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MID-ATLANTIC WEATHER WATCH FOR DECEMBER

Fair and cool (1,2,3) turning windy and colder, lake-effect snow (4,5). Nor’easter, snow heavy in the northern part of the region (6,7,8,9)returning to fair and cold weather with periods of more lake-effect snow (10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17). Fair and cold (18,19) with more snow, some rain in the south (20,21); fair and cold again (22,23,24,25,26) with heavy snow (27,28) ending the month with fair but very cold temperatures 29,30,31). 

GARDENING ACTIVITIES

FOR DECEMBER 



A THOUGHT 
FOR TODAY'S LIVING 

     "The thought that goes into the giving 
       of a gift to a friend or loved one is so 
       much more important than the value 
       of the gift"                      
                        John Gruber (1768--1857)


DECEMBER GARDENING ACTIVITIES

M

ake sure that your beds (especially ground beds) are properly protected from any erosion with leaves, mulch or other organic materials.

 Utilize this time to do any major last-minute cleanup projects around the garden area. Haul away any debris that is to large or woody for the compost, build paths, turn the compost pile to keep it warm, and generally make the garden space tidy before it is under heavy use again in the spring. 

Now enjoy a rest! The days are becoming too short and getting colder to push to do any more things outdoors.   Turn your gardening attentions to those houseplants (and other plants you have moved inside for the winter).  Remember that warmer indoor temperatures can quickly dry out most plants and they will need a bit more than usual. 

It is never too soon to start planning for next year.  Go to www.smartgardener.com/ for a free online vegetable garden layout tool that will help you to successfully grow healthy and tasty food. 

If you need holiday greenery, grab your shears and head for the back yard.  If you are lucky, you will have a variety of boxwoods, yew, fir, or a variety of pine trees to choose from. If you are really lucky, you may even have a female holly tree that has the red berries!

Amaryllis bulb kits as Christmas gifts provide striking color inside and breathe life into winter. Only moisten the bulb when first planted, keep warm (70-75 degrees), water more as the stalk elongates, and provide enough room and stability for 1 to 1 ½ foot tall leaves as it grows and blooms.

Consider a garden shop gift card, garden tools, or offering to clean or refurbish and sharpen garden equipment for the gardener in your life. Books on their favorite type of plants, or a gift card to a popular gardening catalog also are welcome gifts.

Display poinsettias away from heat sources or cold drafts. Keep soil consistently moist, but not soggy. Poinsettias that dry out droop dramatically and drop their flowers

Live Christmas trees are still a tradition in some homes. Check it’s freshness by tapping the branches. Very few needles should fall. Stroke the branches to make sure the needles are resilient and not brittle, have an aromatic fragrance, and good green color for the species. Before bringing the tree indoors, cut 1-inch off the bottom before placing in the water receptacle, and fill it with ½ cup regular 7-up plus 1 quart water or tree preserver.

When Christmas is over, recycle your tree yourself: Cut off branches, and use as insulation over perennials. In spring, chip or shred branches to create mulch. Cut the trunk for firewood. Season it this year to burn next winter.

When ice forms on tree and shrub branches, don't try to break it off -- you'll risk breaking branches. It's best to let the ice melt naturally.

Use snow-melt as little as possible to eliminate snow and ice on walkways and driveways. Many products contain chloride (salt). Sodium chloride- and calcium chloride-based products damage plants more than potassium-based choices. Pet-friendly ice melt won't harm plants.

Forget about melting ice on walkways and steps but instead, focus on creating traction. Use wood ashes, sand, or non-clumping kitty litter. Take steps to ensure material won't be tracked into your home on shoes and paws. Sand can destroy wood floors, and ashes make a mighty mess.