Charlie’s Garden Blog: Early December
We’re into the quiet time in the garden. It’s in between holidays and the weather is predictably, unpredictable. It was 8 degrees F one morning and 50F a few days ago. But with the help of some garden blankets and hay mulch we’re still eating fresh kale, leeks and root crops from the garden. I’m also having delicious memories of a great fall cauliflower crop this year. You can learn about growing your own cauliflower next year right here. Plus, it’s time to protect your hybrid tea and floribunda roses from the winter’s cold.
If you’re like me and always looking for projects, cleaning out the hedgerows of some invasive bushes, such as buckthorn, is a good early winter chore. And finally, there is always our feathered friends to care for. Suet has gotten a bit glamorous and I’ll show you some options on my weekly TV segment.
So, keep active, get outside when the weather allows, and start making gift lists for your favorite gardener for the holiday season. Until next time, I’ll be seeing you in the garden.
With new orange, green and purple colored varieties on the market, cauliflower has gotten a face lift. Cauliflower can be a difficult crop to grow for some gardeners. I’ve found the key in my climate is to start seeds indoors in early summer, transplant into the garden, with insect protection, in mid summer and harvest all fall. Cauliflower grows slowly in October and November, allowing you to harvest and eat at your leisure, avoiding a cauliflower glut. Learn more about cauliflower in this excerpt from my book, Northeast Fruit and Vegetable Gardening.
I admit I prefer carefree, tough, winter hardy roses to the fussy hybrid teas and floribundas. These shrub and landscape roses require little extra fertilizing, watering and, especially, winter care. But, I still have a soft spot in my heart for a few hybrids, such as ‘Julia Child’, so this time of year I protect them with bark mulch to make sure Julia is shining come next summer. It’s often not the cold weather, but drying winds that dry out the rose canes. Learn more about protecting roses in winter in my podcast.
We all known about invasive plants in our environment. All you have to do is watch how vines, such as oriental bittersweet and kudzu; shrubs, such as honeysuckle and buckthorn; and perennials, such as purple loosestrife, swallow up the landscape. Now is a good time to do a little house cleaning, trying to remove some of the woody invasive plants from your yard. First, identify them accurately, then dig them out or at least cut them down to the ground. Consider planting more native woodies in spring to take their place. Learn more about stopping invasives in my podcast.
So, I’m a vegetarian, and feeding birds rendered beef (suet) isn’t tops on my list. But suet is a good energy food for birds and new selections include mixes with peanuts, seeds and fruits to “balance” their diet. However, suet can melt and go rancid during warm weather so it’s important to hang it where the sun won’t warm it up in winter. There are also no-melt suets available that can tolerate warmer weather. If you’re still squimish about hanging fat outside, there’s always peanut butter balls coated with seeds. Birds love them and making them is a fun winter project to do with your kids.