December: To Do in the Garden

By Gary Crispell, EMGV

Well now it’s December
With scarce heat and light.
Short winter days.
Long winter nights.

Gardeners are wondering
What can be done.
The soil’s too cold
For dirt digging fun.

But wait!  Here’s a tale
With information in it.
Be still just now
And read it for a minute.

‘Twas the night before solstice
And all through the house
All of the gardeners
Were chasing a mouse.

The mouse that had eaten
The daffodil bulbs.
The mouse that had dined
On the prize-winning shrubs.

“We’ll catch it!”, one said,
“With sunflower seed.”
“We’ll cage it up.”
“It’ll never be freed!”

Now let’s cut to the chase.
(Oh, wait!  We’re already there.)
The mouse got away,
Its advantage unfair.

“Whatever shall we do?”,
The second gardener lamented.
“That damn little rodent”
I swear was demented.”

”I just checked the calendar,”
“There’s nothing to do.”
While the third gardener said,
“That’s not exactly true.”

The fescue can be mowed,
The leaves blown away
Which is always more fun
On a cold blustery day.

We still can plant
Some landscape shrubs
And if we hurry
Some late tulip bulbs.

We can prune the nandina
And red-berried holly.
They will make the house
Look festive and jolly.

Herbaceous perennials
We can now prune
For a flowery reward
Next May and next June.

Keep the sprayer
Hung up inside.
It’s too cold to spray
Those weeds that we spied.

Except for the lace bugs
All others are hiding.
‘Til warm weather comes
Their time biding.

The strawberries!  The strawberries!
They must be protected.
Lest they get frozen
And look all dejected.

A little pine straw
Or perhaps that of wheat
Will cover the plants
So we’ll have berries sweet.

Lime on the lawn
Will be just fine,
But skip the fertilizer
Until the warmth of springtime.

“And that about does it.”,
The Master Gardener said.
“let’s read a good book,”
Drink some tea and go to bed.”

“Tomorrow we’ll checkout”
“Catalogues of seed”
“And fill the containers”
“Where the birds feed.”

To all of our friends
Out there in cyberspace
May your holidays
Be filled with grace.

And may your next year’s garden
Be like my grandmother’s,
A bounty for you
With a large share for others.

*Resources and Further Reading

Organic Lawn Care Guide

North Carolina Extension Gardener Handbook – Small Fruits

How to Prune Specific Plants

NC Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox (find your perfect plant or figure out what that unknown weed is!)