From Buncombe County Extension
Steve Duckett, Cathy Hohenstein, Holly Jordan,
Meghan Baker, Cliff Ruth,
Margaret Ruff, Alison Arnold, Noah Henson,
Juliette Eirikis, Jessica Bryson,
DECEMBER GARDEN CHORES
* Take a break. As long as the last of the leaves have been raked and the grass has been mowed that last time there is nothing more to do.
* Keep holiday plants looking better longer by placing them away from drafts and heat sources such as air vents, woodstoves and appliances.
* If you are cutting holiday greenery from the landscape, keep good pruning practices in mind. Use sharp pruners to make cuts at branch angles or leaf nodes and keep an eye on the shape of the plant.
* Inspect houseplants, especially any that spent the summer outdoors. They often carry in small insects such as scale, mealybugs, whiteflies and spider mites.
* After night time temperatures are regularly below freezing, cover the strawberry bed with straw or row-cover fabric. Pull weeds first.
* Grape vines may be pruned. Use vines for wreath making.
* Remove asparagus ferns now that they have died.
* Carrots, parsnips, beets and turnips can be dug all winter if the ground does not freeze. You may want to cover the bed with a few inches of straw to prevent freezing.
* Catalog shopping begins in earnest this month. Seed and plant catalogs can be an excellent source of information on vegetable and flower varieties to consider for next year’s garden.
The Perfect Gift for the Gardener on Your List
Living in western N.C. means that there is always something to do in the garden, from preparing soil and pruning to fertilizing and transplanting. But when and how? You’ll find the answers in A Gardening Guide for Our Mountains.
Created by Buncombe County Extension Master Gardener (BCEMG) volunteers, the guide provides a complete month-by-month description of what to do (and not to do), along with tips on invasive species, mulching, composting and creating bird- and pollinator-friendly habitats.
This quick reference makes the perfect holiday gift for the gardeners in your life, whether they are old hands, new to gardening or new to gardening in the mountains. A Gardening Guide for Our Mountains will get them off to the right start and keep their gardens growing all year long. Plus, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that funds raised through this publication go to support the many educational and outreach programs provided by BCEMG volunteers.
Price: $10. Cash or check only. Please make checks payable to Buncombe County Extension Master Gardener. Shipping is available for an additional $2.
How to order:
Garden guides can be purchased and picked up at the Cooperative Extension Office, 49 Mount Carmel Road, Asheville, N.C. Or call 828-255-5522
to order by phone and request shipping.
Please note: Garden guides that require shipping will not ship until payment of $12 is received. Please send all payments to Cooperative Extension, 49 Mount Carmel Road, Asheville, N.C. 28806, ATTN: Buncombe County Master Gardener.
PURCHASING A LIVE TREE?
Live Christmas trees (with a rootball) often do not survive or grow well following holiday time in the house. Most problems can be traced to these factors:
1) Tree species selected is not adapted to the climate where the tree is planted.
2) Larger trees do not establish as easily as smaller trees.
3) Often while in the home, the tree dries out between watering.
selecting and caring for a cut or live tree.
Place Christmas trees with root balls in a tub with handles for easy handling.
For less mess when watering, place several handfuls of ice on top of the ball and allow them to slowly melt.
FRESH CUT CHRISTMAS TREES
* Make a fresh cut by removing 1/2 inch at the base before placing it in the stand.
* Use a stand that will hold a gallon of water.
* Check water daily to keep the stand full. Preservatives are not needed, just plenty of fresh water.
* Keep the tree in a cool room or away from heat sources: heating vents, fireplaces, wood stoves, radiators, and direct sun. (This also goes for holiday plants like poinsettia, cyclamen, and amaryllis.)
* Turn off lights before leaving home or going to bed.
* Remove the tree from your home promptly after Christmas.
HOLIDAY GREENERY FROM THE GARDEN
When gathering greenery for holiday decorations from the garden and landscape remember that you are pruning the plants and
good pruning practices apply!
- Use sharp pruners and make the cuts at branch angles or leaf nodes so it doesn’t leave a stub.
- Keep an eye on the shape of the plant and don’t get carried away.
- Think about which branches to cut and which ones to leave.
- Remove branches evenly around the plant to maintain a natural form.
With many conifers you don’t want to cut beyond the innermost needles, since many don’t regrow from this point. Also to help extend the life of the greenery, soak it overnight or apply an anti-transpirant such as Wilt-Pruf
to keep the foliage from drying out.
The Poinsettia, the most notable traditional holiday plant, can be found in red, pink, gold, white
and a variety of color combinations.
Poinsettias do best in a bright indirect light and away from both hot or cold air drafts. If the plant comes in a decorative wrapping, make a hole in the bottom or completely remove it when watering. Water often enough to keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy. Don’t let the plant sit in the water for too long since this will cause the roots to rot. If this happens the foliage wilt and turn yellow… which of course can happen when there is EITHER too little or too much water.
Christmas cactus is a thornless cactus member and can be easy to care for, become part of the houseplant collection and re-bloom in subsequent years without a lot of effort. The Christmas cactus is available in pink, white, red, and violet.It likes bright, indirect light and since it’s a cactus it prefers light to moderate watering. Too wet? It will rot. Too dry? The flower buds will drop off.
Amaryllis is a tropical plant with large, 8-10 inch blooms in shades of red,
pink, orange, coral, white and even red and white together. Amaryllis dobetter if they are pot-bound, so it’s good to use a pot with a drainage hole and just barely larger than the bulb. Leave about 2/3 of the bulbabove the soil level and water thoroughly. When it begins to grow, move the amaryllis to a sunny location and water whenever the soil feels dry to the touch.
Check out the latest Blog HERE
from the Buncombe County Extension Master Gardeners on making holiday bird feeders for your holiday tree AND what to do with your tree after the season is over.
FORCING SPRING COLOR INDOORS
Early Season Daffodils, Hyacinths and Tulips can be grown indoors and “forced” into color by providing the necessary requirements they would normally receive if planted in the garden. “Forcing” bulbs into flower involves taking an early blooming variety, potting it up and placing it in a cool garage, mulch pile or refrigerator for 12 to 14 weeks. After the pot is brought into a light, warm room and watered thoroughly. This period of cold followed by warm will trigger and force the bulbs into flowering.
Paperwhites, Amaryllis and certain “pre-chilled” bulbs can be grown indoors and make great gifts on any occasion and can certainly brighten everyone’s day.
STILL TIME TO SUBMIT SOIL SAMPLE
WITH NO FEE
Due to conditions caused by Hurricane Florence the
start of the soil sample peak season fee period
has been delayed until December 15, 2018.
Now is the time to send samples!
Turn around time is currently 3-4 weeks.
A soil testing fee of $4.00 per sample will be assessed during the
peak-season period of December 15, 2018 – March 31, 2019, 2019.
When making a holiday purchase for
the gardener in your life,
please consider one of the amazing sponsors
of the WNC Gardening Symposium.
Please let them know how much we appreciate their support.
PEPARE FOR SPRING PLANTING NOW
Do you want to create a new planting area for the garden but don’t have time or energy to dig it all up? Mark off the desired area and lay down thick layers of materials such as moistened newspaper, compost, old straw or hay, leaves, or decomposed mulch.
Water thoroughly and let the winter elements and soil life do the rest.
The turf layer will die off and the soil beneath will be easier to work come spring.
The photos above show all three steps in creating a new garden bed at the
NEED HELP WITH GARDEN QUESTIONS?
Identifying plants, insects, diseases?
Thank you for another great season!
Although the Extension Master Gardeners have gone home to put their own gardens to bed, we are still here to answer your questions.
Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Also visit our office at 49 Mt. Carmel Rd, Asheville NC 28806
Please bring samples large enough for plant identification.
OFFICE HOLIDAY CLOSINGS
Christmas December 24 – 26
New Years January 1
LEARN MORE ABOUT NC STATE EXTENSION