December Gardening Tips from a Master Gardener

By December 18, 2019Garden Tips

December is a good time to review your last year’s garden and plan for the coming season. Pay special attention to successes you would like to repeat and challenges you would like to overcome.

If you need more cold frames, Gardenway’s “Building and Using Cold Frames” has a number of simple, easy-to-build plans just right to fill a cold December day with thoughts of spring. If you have not yet planted your multiplying onions, it is not too late to plant them, elephant and softneck garlic thru the first week in December.

Go through your stored winter vegetables every week or two and cull out all the bad ones. Cut the green sprouts off your onions to use as onion greens.

Carrots growing under row cover can be exceptionally sweet in winter and there is nothing quite as delicious and tender as frost nipped collards or kale. But between Nov 21 and Jan 21 when plants grow slowly or not at all so now is the time to garden on paper. There are a number of online and digital tools to help with garden planning. Ashland Bio-intensive mini farmer Cindy Conner has a great DVD and accompanying CD to help you max a plan that allows you to enjoy your garden to the max. “Develop a Sustainable Vegetable Garden Plan” and Cindy’s other great DVD “ Cover Crops and Compost in your Garden” are available from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and Mother Earth News has a great online garden planner as well.

The Central Virginia Master Gardeners are looking for people who enjoy gardening and want to learn more, who want to share their skills and help the community. The CVMG is a part of Virginia Cooperative Extension and currently holds annual classes for interested parties and individuals. The classes are conducted in the early spring for 8 weeks on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Each participant receives classroom instruction from experts and takes field trips to local nurseries, wineries and horticultural gardens. They also receive a manual of valuable gardening information. Each trainee must give back 50 hours of volunteer time in the community the first year by working on projects. To maintain annual certification, you must perform 20 hours of service and take an additional 8 hours of continuing education.

With the holidays close at hand remember that Gift certificates make great Christmas gifts for the garden enthusiasts as they will likely soon be placing their seed orders. Don’t forget to place your seed orders early to avoid disappointment and to add something new and fun to your garden in 2020.

by Ira Wallace of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange author of The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast