December Vegetable Gardening Tips

By December 26, 2022Garden Tips

by Ira Wallace of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

 & author of Grow Great Vegetables in Virginia

When days are chilly and snow covers our gardens all I want to do is curl up in a warm corner with a stack of seed catalogs or a good garden book. To help with picking some good garden reads Stone Soup Books will have a space for attendees to browse and purchase books across from the registration area for the full time of the conference.

December and January are also a good time to review your last year’s garden and plan for the coming season. Pay special attention to which weeds grew in different areas. They are good indicators of the condition of your soil. Dock and morning glory indicate low calcium and phosphorus levels. Trumpet vine, dock, polk weed and other deep-rooted weeds indicate a compacted subsoil. If you’d like to learn more about garden weeds, Charles Walter’s book, “Weeds: Control Without Poison” contains a wealth of information about what weeks can tell you about your soil, and how to control them naturally.

Cold weather and Christmas are also the signals to get serious about garden planning and seed ordering. First finish inventorying and evaluating the likely vigor of all the seeds you are carrying over for next year. If you aren’t sure about old seed do a quick germination test.  Label a section of heavy duty paper towel with the variety name. Moisten the towel then count out 20 seeds. Roll up the towel, fold in half and loosely hold together with a rubber band. Cover the rolled towel loosely with an open plastic bag and place in a warm (70 degrees F) Visit SESEs How to Test Germination for a good introduction to home germination testing.

With a list of good seeds you already have the next steps are figuring out what you would like to plant then ordering enough seeds for the whole season. Make sure your plan includes when each variety  should be planted and harvested, arranging for succession sowings as well as when to do your summer planting for an abundant fall and winter harvest . For gardeners who prefer to use pencil and paper the Growing Guide and Resources  section at offers a Beginners Growing Guide, planting dates guide,  info on succession planting and more to help with mapping your plot and scheduling your plantings.  for gardeners even a little comfortable with online tools figuring all of this out is so much easier with the new Garden planner available online at Southern Exposure Vegetable Garden Planner

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.  .  With the holidays close at hand remember that Gift certificates make great last minute 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 2023.