Thursday, December 1, 2011

December Gardening in Tucson

It's December and I'm kinda sad because this finishes up the monthly gardening "to do list" posts from last January.  We have experienced an interesting year in weather patterns and while the garden has survived, it has also changed here.  This month I have several surprises on writes from different areas I traveled to over October and November.  As I wrap up this year on Las Aventuras, I'll be shifting back to the El Presidio garden again during spring as I work on several major projects that I began from last year.  It should be interesting to see how it all turns out.   There's a lot of data here for Tucson Gardeners and I hope they'll find it useful.   Without further adeu, here is the December "to do" list in Tucson....and our last monthly post on Tucson gardening tips for the month.
Interestingly enough, there isn't much to do during the month of December.  It's what you SHOULDN'T do during this month.  For example, no pruning.  Cold frost biting temps will be a regular occurrence and plants must keep their dead foliage until March to protect their root systems.  The quickest way to kill a plant, like Bougainvillea, is pruning it back to the ground.  With several nights of below 32 degree weather,  your established or newly established Bougainvillea will find a quick death.  Leave the branches intact until March when it is acceptable to trim and prune plants.  You shouldn't put new plants into the garden.  Instead wait until March to do this.  There are exceptions of course which would be bare root roses or bare root fruit trees.  So here's what you should do.....
1.  Protect your plants from frost
2.  Keep your grounds clean
3. Plant bare-root roses/fruit trees(Remember to soak 24 hours in a bucket of water before planting)
4. Plant your cool-season veggies like beets, carrots, radishes, turnips, spinach, collard and mustard greens, chard leaf lettuce, kale and bok choy.  Transplant or sow seeds for cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower.
5.  Tranplant six-packs or 4-inch annual flowers for faster color in the garden.  Nasturtium, dianthus, pansy, viola, Johnny-jump-up, signet marigold, borage, calendula, and shungiku chrysanthemum are just some examples.
6.  Most herbs, like cilantro, dill, and parsley thrive in pots during this cool weather!!  For basil, pull plants and collect seed.
7.  The citrus issue.  Because of our nasty freeze this past February, most of us won't have large crops of citrus.  You may ask me what did well for me....well, I have crops of kumquat and tangelos.  I don't have ANY oranges or grapefruit.  If you do have crops this year, taste-test navel and Arizona sweet oranges, mandarins and tangelos to determine if they are ready to harvest.  I'd wait on the grapefruit until next month to pick.

Well that's it!!  The end of the monthly to do series!  I hope those readers who search for Tucson gardening tips have found these posts helpful.  I've spent years collecting this info from other gardeners, my own practice and experience, and gardening guides. If you love cilantro, you should plant it now.....I've had great success with this delicious herb.
PS.  It's a good thing that gardening is low key this month because the holidays are in high gear for most of us.  More tomorrow friends...

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