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December in the Garden

December is a great month to relax and enjoy the results of all your efforts through out the cooler months. Gardens look great now.  Full of spring growth and flower, not tarnished by the heat of summer.

Nights are light and warm enough to sit out and really enjoy what both you and nature have created. Show off your garden by getting friends and family around to enjoy it with you.  Pass on some advice from your successes, they will be well received.  This is how most of us learn and are inspired.  

If you have a few small spots which need a spruce up with some colour, pop in a few seedlings, or better still some colour pots already in bloom. Out here Petunias and Marigolds thrive along with a large range of other colourful annuals.

Mulching should now be complete.  If you have not already, mulch moist, not dry soil.  If you mulch dry soil you can reduce the effectiveness of summer showers penetrating down into the root zone where it is required.

Reduce planting to only what you can manage to attend to daily. This may include additional planting in the vegie garden and just a few additional plants. I don’t stop planting through summer as I spend time in my garden over summer when the days are longer and I have the time.  If you don’t have time, wait until autumn and simply enjoy what you have. 

Most of my garden is very hardy to dry periods only requiring 2-4 deep waters over summer and I start the summer season usually with all my water tanks brimming with water held over from the winter months.  This assists in keeping my garden happy and healthy.

Start analysing areas of your garden.  Which areas require more attention than you are willing to donate and others where a spruce up will be needed after summer when things cool down again. Already I can see that after several years of relative neglect, our raspberries will not perform as good as they have in previous years.  Next May/June they will be dug out and the soil improved before the healthiest sections are replanted and any remaining shared between family and friends.

November was a great month of harvest for us with loads and loads of tasty strawberries, beautiful full heads of cauliflower and broccoli and plenty of rhubarb stalks to utilise in our favourite dishes.  December will see Loganberries and cherries at their peak along with crops of a variety of lettuce and a continuing of our bumper strawberry crop so long as the water is kept up.

If you have held off, now is the best month to plant Basil.  A liquid feed every week will see its growth accelerate and produce plenty of ‘pick-able’ foliage just as your first tomatoes ripen, oh I can’t wait!!  In the vegie garden you can still plant cucumber, zucchini and beans with plenty of time for very successful harvests.  A few Spring onions and more capsicum and chilli plants will also fill the gaps where spent brassicas are now being removed.

Consider a gift voucher from your local nursery for a friend or family along with a plant to get them started. Everyone has a friend who needs encouraging or has just started out and will benefit from such a gift.  As their plants grow, and you go over for a visit, you can share in their successes having supplied them with the incentive to get started in their garden.

Also consider a more frivolous purchase such as a Poinsettia of Christmas Lily.  They add a real festive ambience to a room or table setting, the Christmas Lily having the bonus of an incredible perfume.  They can then be planted out into the garden where they will die down after flowering, re-grow and bloom again next year!

I wish you all a merry festive season filled with fun, family and friends.  Thanks to all who have offered positive feedback throughout the year and encouraged me to keep writing.  If you have any topics you would like covered in 2013 please write into to Lyell and he will forward your ideas and any questions you might have.

Enjoy!, Chris Hose