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December 2018 Gardening Tips - Popies and Pansies



    As The Gardening Tutor I often hear people say that they feel they have a “black thumb” or that they “kill everything." I understand and I remember exactly how defeated I felt when everything I planted died.

    Before I knew anything about how to establish plants I lived atop a rocky hill in the country. This plot of land had nothing but weeds growing on it and I really wanted to see flowers. So one day, I picked up a few flats of ice plant and taking my life in my hands I climbed onto the steep hillside out in front of the house. Patiently I chiseled little holes in the dry, rocky soil and with great hope I planted the little plugs of ice plant (did I mention this was in the heat of the summer?). This endeavor took the better part of my day. When I was done, the hillside was a polka dot design of little plants that I thought would quickly fill in and be a waterfall of color when they bloomed their hot pink flowers. Within days all the little plants were crispy brown and dead! So sad.

    Another time, before I knew about how fertilizers work, I had five beautiful hanging baskets full of fuchsias and other plants. I had heard that plants in containers needed fertilizer so one day I mixed up some liquid fertilizer and poured it in each container. Later when I went outside I noticed the plants looked terrible. What happened? All the plants died because the soil in the containers was dry when I added the fertilizer.

    As you can see we all start at the same place. No one is born knowing how to make plants thrive. Perhaps your “black thumb” is just dormant. Once you learn what to do with and for your plants you too may have a “green thumb!" At the very least you will feel more confident about your gardening endeavors.

    When you are ready to try gardening again or for the first time contact The Gardening Tutor for your first appointment.

    December 2018
    Gardening Checklist*
    What to SHOP for . . .
    Checkbox Annuals - Breadseed Poppies (4 inch containers).
    Checkbox Perennials/Shrubs - Helleborus, Dicentra spectabilis (Bleeding Heart-shop for dormant roots now), Cyclamen, Dianthus (Carnations), Primrose.
    Checkbox Shrubs - Pyracantha, Correa pulchella, Cotoneaster, Camellia
    Checkbox Seeds - Sweet Peas, Larkspur, Flander's Poppies, Bachelor's Buttons, Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion).
    Tasks to do . . .
    Checkbox Prune - Prune Wisteria vines. Shorten the laterals to two or three fat buds. Remove all the old fruit (called mummies) from fruit trees and all fallen fruit and leaves from under trees. Dormant prune apples and pears but leave stone fruits, such as peaches and nectarines for spring pruning on a sunny day.
    Checkbox Pest Management - Dormant spray for peach leaf curl three times during winter (Thanksgiving, Christmas and Valentine's Day before bud break). Dormant spray can be used for other deciduous plants, such as roses and fuchsia. Dormant sprays kill overwintering insect eggs as well as fungal spores. Wait until the plants have lost their leaves. If the plants still have a few leaves on them when you are ready to spray, remove the leaves before spraying. Remember to spray the soil underneath the plant too. Bait for snails, slugs, earwigs, and sowbugs in winter flowering beds.
    Checkbox Watering - Remember to check your plants that grow close to the home or out buildings. If the overhang keeps the rain from reaching these plants you will need to give them some winter irrigation.
    Checkbox Soil - Avoid working soil that is too wet from the rains. Wait a day or two after a rain to do your weeding, bulb planting, or other tasks that disturb the soil. Or use cardboard or wood to stand on so your weight is dispersed instead of compacting wet soil.
    Checkbox Design - When inside your house look outside the windows and envision places in your garden where a focal point plant can be placed. Flowering plants that compliment the colors inside the house create the feeling of a larger room.
    Free printable . . .
      Looking for a way to stay organized in your garden?
    Download this Free Printable Gardening Checklist* and you’ll be amazed how inspired you’ll feel!
    Let us know how you’re doing. You can do it!
    Remember, this printable was created as a short list of tasks with minimal information. If you would like more in-depth information,
    you can always refer back to the checklist above each month for more details.

    The Gardening Tutor December 2018 Printable

    *Colors may vary depending upon your computer screen and printer.

*For More Detailed Gardening Tips
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The Gardening Tutor
Hands-on, Individualized Gardening Instruction
And Consulting
in Sonoma County
Santa Rosa, California

Hands-On Individualized Gardening Instruction and Consulting in Sonoma County