December Gardener’s To Do List
Christmas Trees: We had a short list of North Georgia Christmas Tree Growers in last month’s issue and we hope you found it useful. Now, here’s some advice for you when you go. Don’t forget to take something like a plastic drop cloth or tarp with you. According to the ever-knowledgeable Walter Reeves, this will prevent the tree from drying out on your ride home! You can also check to see if there might be other family-fun things you can do at your local grower while you are choosing a tree. Many tree growers offer other things for the kids (or you!) to do while you are there. For a list of Christmas tree growers in Georgia, visit the Georgia Christmas Tree Association at www.gacta.com/index or visit pickyourownchristmastree.org/GAxmastrees.php and scroll down to for the link to North Georgia.
Christmas Gifts from Your Garden (or Workshop): Here are some wonderful gifts from the gardener: Loofa gourd-sponges are a great gift –assuming you grew some, of course. If you would like to try them next year, here is advice on how to from the University of Minnesota (just remember the some of their weather recommendations won’t apply down here): www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/M1231.html. The seeds for loofa gourds (sometimes spelled “luffa” gourds) are available on Amazon.com, if you think growing them might be a cool idea. How about this one: you can also give seeds from plants you have grown and harvested as a gift to fellow gardeners. For a great article on this visit this page from You Grow Girl: www.yougrowgirl.com/2002/10/04/harvesting-seeds. Along the same lines, you can also grow new plants you propagate as well for a very nice gift. With only a little sewing skill you can make sachets. You can even make evergreen ones for the holidays. Here is a column on that very thing from about.com: gardening.about.com/od/craftsanddecor/ht/Ever_Sachet.htm and an informative one here: garden.iloveindia.com/garden-crafts/evergreen-sachets.html. You can even give those, jellies, jams, fruit butters or other things you “put up” (if you aren’t from the South, that means “canned”) earlier in the year. If you brought your herbs in from the cold, you could use them to make herb vinegars or herb infused oils. If you dried some of your herbs, consider making dried herb wreaths. (One of my favorite wreaths ever was a small one made from dried bay leaves; it hung over my kitchen sink every Christmas for years.) I think my favorite garden-gift idea is to create beautiful garden candles. No, you don’t have to make the candle part –although if you can, do so! If you want a great description of how to make garden candles the almost easier way, visit: gardening.about.com/od/craftsanddecor/ss/GardenCandle.htm. One last project you can make for a flower gardener; a flower press. Whether it is a gift for a friend or one for yourself, a flower press is fun and easy to make. Here are very thorough instructions on how to create one www.leeswoodprojects.com/flower_press.html.
Birds: This is the time of the year when the birds need our help the most, particularly with fresh, unfrozen water; in fact, birds become more dependent on the fresh water in our birdbaths during the winter. If you are wondering the different methods for providing them water, here is an amazing site for just that: www.bird-house-bath.com/heated-bird-baths.html. Last year, though, we created a different solution. We used one of those heated plastic pet bowls that we bought over at Tractor Supply. Yes, they are way too deep for the birds, but just put a clean rock or two for the birds to stand on.
Houseplants: Since gardeners in North Georgia don’t have much to do outside right now, give your houseplants the benefit of your extra time. Check them for pests, since the heat is going to be on for a while. I’m not complaining about that last hurrah of pretty weather a couple of weeks ago, just that the heat might encourage pests to multiply. Of course, taking good care of your houseplants is always the first step toward keeping the pest-free. Houseplants that are stressed are a target for pests. Here is a site from the University of Colorado that is great for identifying and managing houseplant pests: www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05595.html
Catalogs: The catalogs are coming!!! Ah, yes, soon we can all curl up by a warm fire with the most interesting reading a gardener can find: gardening catalogs!!! We all have our favorites, of course, but there are websites that do nothing but actually compile gardening catalog lists. Here are a couple: www.gardeningplaces.com/mailorder.htm and Cindy’s is here: www.gardenlist.com/. If you are looking for free catalogs, the folks at About.com have you covered here: freebies.about.com/od/homegardenfreebies/tp/seed-catalogs.htm. Of course, let’s not forget our friends at Dave’s Garden. These guys compile the famous Garden Watchdog that will tell us which are the best gardening resources on the web (or by mail). It’s right here and needs to be on any gardener’s favorites” list: davesgarden.com/products/gwd. You can read their ever-changing lists of online gardening resources reviewed by the readers themselves.