First-time gardeners probably think that after harvesting their produce and clean-up they are done until spring.
Gardeners know there are always jobs to do.
Yes, December is an easier time, but there are many things on a check list – even the forgotten ones. The broken branches from the last storm need cutting off and any dead limbs need removing before winter ice storms.
Now all the leaves have fallen it is a good time to put a blanket of leaves on the perennials. It will give you an early start for them in the spring. Roses can be protected with a mound of leaves inside a collar and cut back to about six inches if you have not done this yet. Leaves under trees need raking away from the trunk to help against disease.
Roadside ornamental trees and vines on arbours would benefit from a burlap wrap, especially a young wisteria or climbing rose.
Have you drained and put away your hoses? And turned off and drained all the connections to prevent splitting from freezing damage? Remember the clay pots need to be placed in a garage or emptied as they will break on freezing. If they have to stay outside, you need to empty them. Wash them and lay on their side or upside down.
Next, remember the birds and fill various feeders with food, set out suet for energy that they need to survive. Check that you can provide some source of water for them to drink and bathe in (yes they bathe even in winter!). A saucer or tray replaced with fresh water daily will help them and give you hours of pleasure just watching the variety of birds that visit you. They are colour in our dull black and white world.
Suet offered in purchased blocks is the easiest way to feed but it can be offered as homemade shapes. Try to melt some suet and when it starts to set mix in some seed. Then take any small container, maybe a yogurt pot, make a hole in it and thread a piece of string through it to use later as a hanger and fill with the mixture. When it is set peel off the pot and hang in a tree or on a hook in your garden. Your imagination is the limit.
Those trays you set aside when you planted out your annuals need to be washed and rinsed in a bleach solution ready for reseeding next year. All the tools you have used will need to be cleaned and protected with a spray of WD40 to preserve them for the future.
Now comes the indoor time for gardeners where you can go through your journal for the year to remind you of your successes and those things that did not work. Start your 2022 journal with new ideas while it is still in recent memory. Maybe you used seed that did not perform as you would like so jot that down, including the preferred catalogue to help ordering next year’s seed.
Start Amaryllis and paper whites and any indoor spring bulbs to bring you colour and plants to watch grow.
As you see, a gardener can always have a chore to do outside or indoors even when it appears that all is over for the year. Sit back and wait for the pretty catalogues to arrive. Choose old favourites and add something new to experiment with.
The Tillsonburg Horticultural Society will be meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 7 at 6:30 p.m. in the Senior Centre (Tillsonburg Community Centre). There will be a ‘Meet & Mingle’ before a presentation by Paul Knowles, a travel, garden and humour writer who will talk about his new book The Magic Garden. Anyone will be made welcome so come out and join us. Check out our website www.tillsonburghorticultural.ca and look on Facebook for any updates.