December - What's in Kate's Garden?

In My Garden (Zone 5-6)

Kate Copsey
Kate has relocated many times giving her experience in gardening from sandy upstate New York to Georgia clay and many areas between. She currently gardens in Central New Jersey. Kate also hosts the popular radio show “America’s Home Grown Veggies” heard every Saturday on America’s Wb Radio.

When the frosts and cold weather finally hit – I have to confess it was a relief! The vegetable garden was looking tired and the annuals in the perennial bed were struggling. Even though the cool down was late, and expected, I was late putting down a cover crop on the tomato and bean beds. It did not germinate in time to do any good this year, but I was still able to mulch the beds though with leaves. When clearing out the debris from the melons that grew in the raspberry patch, I found an enormous and over ripe melon that had grown over the summer behind my back. As the groundhog had already started to eat it, I cut it in half and left it by the shed for all the local wildlife to enjoy. 

Last weekend I was watching my neighbor rake his leaves neatly onto a blue tarp and tip them onto the curb for collection. This took a while to do but he now has a nice clear lawn. I took the lawnmower to our leaves and ran it in circles to chop all the leaves up and then put them onto the vegetable beds as a mulch. Any that remain on the lawn will decompose over the winter.

Fall is the season of berries and the callicarpa is one of my favorites this time of year. They are neat shrubs for most of the year with little white flowers in early summer. The vibrant berries stay through the winter – unless the birds eat them. They also work well as decoration in seasonal, outside wreaths.

Fall is also a time to finish planting bulbs for spring. The soil temperature is much cooler than it was in October and perfect for planting daffodils and crocus. While I am planting, I am also removing the cannas and dahlias for winter storage in peat moss in the basement. They will come out next spring to get a head start for planting.

The decoration of the house will begin soon and I intend to do a little outside too. Last year I bought two small conifers from a local nursery and decorated them for the porch. Come spring they were planted in the garden and are doing well. I am thinking of decorating them again with some of the little wild bird seed wreaths from Burpee.

Indoors the Christmas cacti have been in bloom for a while. I am not sure whether that was because I left them outside too long but they set buds and started blooming at the beginning of October! I have a suspicion that they will be over by Christmas though. In the little sun room I have the salad pot still doing well with a cut-and-come-again type lettuce mix. The room is unheated but very sunny and they have continued to produce very well. Like most vegetables though they are likely to try to put out a seed head soon which means I really should get another container started so that we can still have salad in January.




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Gardening Tip of the Day

  • A really special gift for that cherished gardener in your life could be a Christmas card or "coupon" created on your computer which reads, "Good for One Day’s Garden Labor from Yours Truly."

    If you know the gardener has planned a major garden renovation or project such as assembling a garden shed, building a raised bed, or erecting a trellis, you can make the coupon more specific. Your gift of time and effort will be appreciated and remembered long after the holidays!