Christmas is just around the corner and the holidays are in sight. Enjoy your downtime but don’t forgot about your crops. With the weather growing warmer, enjoy the fruits of your labour and remember to ask a neighbour to water your garden if you are going away.

Key Points

  • Strawberries will start to ripen, protect them from birds and ensure they get plenty of water.
  • Keep planting salad crops for summer harvesting.
  • Protect vegetable crops from white butterfly and insects.
  • Continue to plant colour in pots and the garden for Christmas and summer displays.
  • Sow seeds of summer flowering annuals.
  • Plant swan plants to attract butterflies into the garden.
  • Indoor plants are a great Christmas gift. Poinsettias are a traditional favourite.
  • Holiday time, check watering systems are working or install new ones.

The Edible Garden

  • December is the month when things get going in the vegetable garden, and we start to see some of the rewards for all the hard digging and prep work we put in earlier. This is no time to be resting on our laurels though as there is still plenty we can be doing.
  • The main tasks for this month are watering, feeding, successional plantings, and maybe a touch of spraying if necessary.
  • When watering focus the water on the ground and roots of your plants, rather than spraying water all over the foliage. This will help prevent the spread of fungus diseases and will ensure plants get the water they need. A soaker hose is ideal for watering the vege garden. Remember a good soaking every 2-3 days is more beneficial than a daily light sprinkling.
  • Side dress fast growing green veges with some Sulphate of Ammonia – this will stimulate some good leaf growth on lettuces, spinach, silver beet. For veges which are produced from flowers such as tomatoes, peppers, courgettes, a weekly feed of liquid tomato food or Thrive Flower and Fruit will give you some veges to be proud of.
  • Keep making successional plantings this month of lettuces, beans, courgettes, cucumbers, radishes, beetroot, tomatoes, sweet corn.
  • This is a good month to plant out rock melons, water melons, pumpkins – all of these love the warmer weather.
  • Keep pinching back lateral side shoots on tomatoes so that all their energy goes into producing ‘fruit’ and not stems and leaves. Pick courgettes daily as they start to come on otherwise they will get too big very quickly, and the plant will stop producing more flowers.
  • In more humid climates you may notice a touch of mildew or other fungal disease creeping into the vege patch. React early, and a quick spray with Greenguard should get these under control quickly. If problems persist, try spraying with Bravo. Healthy, well fed and watered plants are much more resistant to bugs and diseases so make this your priority.
  • Any bugs can be controlled with Mavrik, or if caterpillars persist knock them on the head with a dose of Success Naturalyte.

The Flower Garden

  • There is still time to plant out some annuals or potted colour to have the garden looking a picture in time for Xmas – try alyssum, lobelia, petunia, zinnia, salvia, verbena, marigolds.
  • Now is a good time to plant up pots and hanging baskets – the smaller flowered calibrachoa, and Colourwave petunias are ideal for this.
  • For shady spots in the garden try some of the new impatiens available now, or chose from one of the many Fuchsia varieties for a stunning Xmas display.
    Keep deadheading roses and water deeply to ensure the second flush of blooms.
  • Trim back any flowering shrubs that have now finished – this will encourage new growth over summer for next year’s flowers.
  • Any spring flowering bulbs that have died off can now be lifted and stored in a cool, dry place until planting out again in Jan or Feb.
  • Mulch flower beds with compost or pea straw to conserve moisture and reduce the number of weed that may appear.
  • Don’t forget your indoor houseplants either – this warmer weather will be stimulating them into growth – you can help them along with a weekly dose of a liquid or soluble plant food such as Phostrogen. For those of you who are time poor a teaspoon of slow release fertiliser such as Osmocote or Acticote will keep them happy for 3-6 months – what could be easier?

The Lawn

  • Raise the cutting height on your lawn mower. Avoid mowing your lawn too short as longer grass shades the roots and helps prevent drying out. 
  • Summer is also a good time to leave the grass clippings on the lawn; they act as mulch conserving water.