- When snow and ice covers your walkways, don't succumb to the temptation of using salt or chemical deicers to clear the path. Salt causes groundwater pollution, corrosion, and plant stunting and disease. Use sand or fine gravel instead.
- Look for and make holiday gifts from the garden. Nicely packaged home dried herbs, preserves, and such, make memorable presents.
- Handle some of those chores that weren't a priority during the summer. Trim dead branches from the bottom of trees, grown long and ungainly branches, and the ones that are always in the way.
- Year-Round Kitchen Garden:
- Winter vegetable gardens need occasional care. Keep beds weed-free and harvest crops as they mature. Remember to water if there's a dry spell and/or when winds are forecast.
- Start onion seed indoors.
- Jerusalem artichokes are now at their tastiest.
- Dig new beds, if the soil is dry enough, especially those to be used in February or March. Add plenty of organic matter so that only a light raking will be needed come planting time.
- Woody and Ornamental:
- Bare-rooted trees can be planted throughout this month. This is also a good time to move small shrubs and trees, including wild seedlings.
- On your wisteria, cut back by at least half any long shoots that have formed in the last few months.
- Take care of the English ivy by cutting through all the vines at ground level. Do not let ivy climb trees, set seed or escape into the wild. The states of Washington and Oregon consider English Ivy to be an invasive species, extremely damaging to native ecosystems. Learn about invasive exotic plants, and eliminate them from your landscape. For Oregon: Noxious Weed Control Identifier; Washington: Washington State Noxious Weed Lists and Monitor List
- Soil and Maintenance:
- Turn your compost pile at least once, if possible. Keep piles from becoming oversaturated and nutrients from leaching into groundwater. Use tarps or other coverings to protect them from heavy rainfall.
- Don't walk on soggy or frozen grass. Wet, cold soil is easily damaged by compaction, as is wet, cold grass.
- Critters Good and Otherwise
- Slug Hunting season ends December 31st
- Protect plants from hungry rabbits and deer - if you can. It's not easy keeping a determined deer away from your prized azalea. Commercial repellents and homemade 'scent sacks' (mothballs, urine, smelly soaps...) might do the trick, but barriers are a more likely solution, either chicken wire cages for small plants or fencing for larger areas.
- Remember, birds need both food and water in the deep of winter. Suet adds fat to bird diets so consider hanging it out in addition to the seeds in the feeders. Keep the water basin or birdbath filled and free of ice. Native hollies and dogwoods provide food and shelter for wildlife, so consider adding bird-friendly plants to your landscape.
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