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Gardening with Wanda: Make a list of December gardening tasks
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Making a list of December gardening tasks will keep you on top of this busy month and help ensure a healthy garden for the next few months to come.

Take advantage of some of our last days of mild weather and take care of a few landscaping tasks.

Then sit back and happily sip eggnog by the warm fire while enjoying family and friends!

First, rake up the last of the fall leaves on your lawn. Wet piles of soggy leaves left on your lawn will leave dead patches next spring.

If you are planning on planting any shrubs or fruit and nut trees, now is a wonderful time to do it. Use a low nitrogen fertilizer such as 5-12-12 when planting and renew your mulch around them. Fresh mulch around existing shrubs and trees will also ensure winter protection.

Most shrubs that bloom during the summer and fall can be pruned starting in December. Shrubs that bloom on branches that are produced during the current growing season are pruned in winter, usually before spring growth begins. Examples are Abelia, Beautyberry, Hibiscus (perennial) and fall-blooming hydrangeas such as PeeGee and Annabelle.

For a complete list of what shrubs and trees can be pruned, call us at the extension office, and we will be happy to provide that information.

Use cuttings from evergreen shrubs and bring them inside. Juniper, holly and magnolia foliage can be used indoors for holiday accents. Use red holly and nandina berries for festive table centerpieces or on fireplace mantels. It is amazing what one can find in your yard to dress up the holiday season indoors!

Fertilize cold season pansies, violas, snapdragons and ornamental kale with fertilizer containing ‘nitrate nitrogen'. This helps stimulate growth and blooms in cold soil. Sprinkle pine straw over your newly planted bulbs to keep them from prematurely popping out any greenery throughout the winter.

If you want to plant veggies, winter will allow asparagus to survive. Plant asparagus in late December. Make your next year's garden plans and continue to harvest fall veggies such as lettuce and Swiss chard. When the harvest is done, clean and till garden soil and remove the debris to prevent overwintering diseases in the soil. Apply organic material into the garden soils to buildup nutrients.

Don't forget to give your houseplants a little TLC during the month. Move the indoor plants to a sunny area of your home and keep them in a cool spot if possible. This will keep your plants from dropping leaves prematurely.

Poinsettias are beautiful this time of year, so keep the soil moist and well drained. Since our homes can be dry and warm in the winter, group your plants together to increase humidity around them.

December is a special month. So don't forget about those special gardeners in your life. There are some great gifts that every gardener appreciates. A quality set of pruners or loppers is a must. Or buy a great set of gloves and a hat. Also there are great shovels, trowels and tillers for the serious gardener.

Maybe my husband and kids will read this? Hope so!

Thanks to Walter Reeves' Gardening Calendar. Happy Gardening!

Wanda Cannon is a Master Gardener trained through the Hall County program and also serves as Master Gardener coordinator and horticulture assistant for the Hall County Extension office. Phone: 770-535-8293.

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