December to-do list for gardeners
Here's the December to-do list for gardeners:
Protect plants from frost by placing stakes around tender plants and covering with clear plastic or fabric such as a sheet or old blanket. Don't let the plastic touch the foliage. If plants are potted, move them to a sheltered area such as a porch, under the eves on the south side of the house or even under a tree. Be sure to uncover them during the day. Moving them indoors to a cool room would be good if possible. Don't prune frost damage on a plant until new growth starts in spring. The dead material helps protect the plant from further damage
Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that reduces the vigor and health of its host tree. Cut off any affected limb 18 inches or more below the mistletoe attachment. If this isn't possible, remove the mistletoand wrap the infected area with black plastic to prevent re-sprouting.
Clean garden beds in preparation for winter. Many insects and diseases over-winter in fallen debris. Prune diseased leaves from roses, camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas. Leave leaf litter under oaks, pine and junipers; the leaf duff helps protect the roots.
Prune apple trees that have weak or unproductive branches. Apple trees produce fruit on spurs located on wood that is 2 to 8 years old. Pruning allows sunlight into the tree to encourage good spur development.
Harvest kiwis when they are still hard, then soften at room temperature. Watch the vines for signs of ripeness; a few fruit will turn soft and the skin color will change from greenish to full brown. Fruit can be left on the vine after the leaves fall off. Kiwis can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four months or at room temperature for about two weeks.
Peppertree pysllid are greenish or tan pear-shaped pests that appear on California pepper trees. Tiny, translucent, white eggs turn into orangish nymphs that feed on new plant growth. Leaves will appear wrinkled or twisted. The pest rarely does serious damage to the tree, so control methods aren't usually necessary.
What to plant now
Transplants: artichoke, asparagus, garlic, onions, rhubarb, Swiss chard.
Seeds: bell beans, Swiss chard.
Have a question for Rebecca Jepsen and the other Santa Clara County Master Gardeners? Call the hot line, 408-282-3105, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, or visit the website at www.mastergardeners.org.