Gardening by the month

december

Make sure Strawberry beds are mulched for winter protection Mulching strawberry plants will insulate them from extreme low temperatures, minimize soil heaving and decrease excessive drying (desiccation) of the plant crowns. It is best to wait until plants are dormant before you pile on the mulch. Applying mulch too early can cause the crown of the plant to rot. Several materials can be used for winter mulch, including clean (weed-free) straw, chopped cornstalks, hay, bark chips. Tree leaves and grass clippings are not recommended, since they tend to mat down and smother the plants. About 2-3 inches of mulch, after settling, should provide adequate protection.


    Help the Birds in Winter Months

    Wash bird feeders and baths with warm soapy water to prevent the spread of wild bird diseases.
    Read more about caring for the birds.


    How to Select a Fresh Christmas Tree

    Inspect the tree you choose to determine if it appears green and healthy with a fragrant smell and moist, flexible needles. Make sure there is no evidence of drying or browning. Avoid trees with broken branches or damaged bark. Bounce the tree lightly on its cut end if you can, and shake it. This will usually result in an inevitable little sprinkling of pine needles, but if this results in a shower of needles then look around a little more. Check for anything that may have chosen your tree as a home (spiders, small animals, etc.) before you bring it in your house. Cutting an extra quarter inch off the bottom before mounting your tree will greatly help water absorption. When you bring the tree home, leave it in the garage for a few days to acclimate the tree to the warmer inside temperature.

    Buy a locally grown tree to support growers in your community. You'll minimize the impact of transport miles and guarantee it has been freshly cut and the needles will stay on longer. Consider purchasing a live potted tree that can be planted outdoors after the holidays. An artificial Christmas tree may be reusable but it will probably have been made from a petroleum-based product and may well have been flown in from China.

    The materials commonly used in the manufacture of artificial trees are PVC, polyurethane foam and steel. Although you may reuse it for several years, if your tree is not recyclable, it will eventually linger for centuries in a landfill site. Here are a few places to look at if you want a fresh tree.

    Western North Carolina Tree Farms
    Piedmont Tree Farms
    Coastal Tree Farms