This news item expired on Monday, December 31, 2012 so the information below could be outdated or incorrect.
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It's cold outside, and the last thing you are thinking about is your lawn or garden. There are, however, some chores that need to be done in December.
Before bringing a cut Christmas tree into the house, it is a good idea to hose it off thoroughly if possible. This can remove dust and pollen that may cause allergy problems for some family members, as well as hitchhiking insects.
Trees and shrubs can still be planted any time the soil is not frozen or too muddy.
Keep good pruning practices in mind when cutting holiday greenery. Make clean cuts at branch angles or leaf nodes, and keep an eye on the shape of the plant.
To enjoy the poinsettia as long as possible, give it very little direct sunlight, keep it away from heat vents and cold drafts, and water regularly.
Grape vines can be pruned any time during the dormant season. Do some pruning now if you want to use vines for wreath making.
The strawberry bed can be mulched with straw when nights are regularly falling below freezing.
Parsnips, turnips, beets and carrots can be left in the ground a while longer if you do not need them yet. However, it is a good idea to cover them with several inches of straw or other mulch to prevent the ground from freezing.
Monitor greenhouses, cloches and cold frames daily. Temperatures heat up quickly on a sunny day.
Finish removing dead ferns from the asparagus bed if not already done.
Use some down time to clean, sharpen, oil and repair garden tools and equipment.
Find a spot to set aside those garden catalogs that will start arriving in the mail. They will give you something to do the next couple of months.
It seems such a waste to take leaves to the curb or burn them.
Shredded leaves can be used as informal mulch in the flower bed or natural area. Put some over the vegetable garden to protect the soil during the winter and turn them into the soil in spring. If you don’t have a leaf shredder, mow over them with the lawn mower and use the bagger to collect them.
Dry leaves can be turned into wonderful compost if mixed with green material such as grass clippings and kitchen scraps. The compost will work faster if the leaves are shredded, but whole leaves will work as well.
For more information, watch BCTV 2's "December Garden Chores with Linda Blue" video or call Buncombe County Cooperative Extension at 255-5522.