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Gardeners' December Checklist Includes Citrus Show On Dec. 9
by Dr. William M. Johnson, Galveston County Extension Agent - Horticulture
There is always something to grow and something to harvest in our Gulf Coast gardens-even during the month of December. Whether you are an enthusiastic citrus grower or just interested in viewing an array of locally grown citrus fruit, plan to attend the 2004 Upper Gulf Coast Citrus Show to be held at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 9, in the Walter Hall Park Pavilion in League City.
There is always something to grow and something to harvest in our Gulf Coast gardens-even during the month of December. And, many home citrus growers have been harvesting a respectable crop of citrus including grapefruits, kumquats, and lemons as well a wide variety of other citrus fruits.
Whether you are an enthusiastic citrus grower or just interested in viewing an array of locally grown citrus fruit, plan to attend this year's Upper Gulf Coast Citrus Show to be held on Thursday, December 9, at 7:00 p.m. in the Walter Hall Park Pavilion located at 807 Highway 3 in League City. An educational program will be provided on growing citrus in the Upper Gulf Coast.
Area residents are also invited to enter any type of locally grown citrus fruit in the show for judging and display. Each entry must be grown by the exhibitor and should consist of three fruits that are as uniform as possible. Each entry must be bagged and clearly tagged with your name, address and telephone number. Also, indicate the type of fruit. Even if type of fruit is not known, it may be entered and will be identified.
Entries will be accepted at the Galveston County Extension Office at 5115 Highway 3 in Dickinson from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 7, and 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 8. Rosettes and ribbons will be awarded to the best quality entries. For additional information, contact the Galveston County Extension Office (281-534-3413, ext. 6).
And while you're at it, be sure to peruse the following monthly checklist of gardening chores for December:
HOLIDAY GIFTS FOR THE GARDENER:If you are stumped for ideas on holiday gifts, don't overlook the many gardening items that could please any member of the family. Power garden tools, hand tools for kids, special plants, nursery gift certificates, bird feeders, garden statuary, and books are just a few items nearly anyone would appreciate.
COLD INJURY ON PLANTS:Prepare landscape plants for possible severe cold snaps by taking a few preventive steps to help avoid injury. If you trust your weather prognosticator and he or she predicts a hard freeze and if your soil is on the dry side at the time, then be sure to water your plants well prior to the freeze. Odd as it may appear, many plants are killed due to a lack of sufficient soil moisture. Providing a 4-to-6 inch layer of mulch (such as leaves, compost, or shredded pine bark) will also help to reduce cold injury. While plastic does not provide sufficient protection to plants during a hard freeze, it can be used to protect cold-sensitive plants against light frosts. However, be very sure to remove the plastic immediately after the danger from a light frost has passed-temperatures inside a clear plastic covering can become very high on a sunny day.
CARE OF CHRISTMAS TREES:Keep the water reservoir in your Christmas tree stand filled with water at all times. A Christmas tree requires lots of water, especially when the home heating system is in operation. The tree will take up a larger quantity of water at first (as much as a gallon or more a day), but water uptake will slack off later. Tests show that a 6-foot Christmas tree will take up between 1 and 2 pints of water per day, on average, during a 3-week season.
CONTROL OF COOL SEASON WEEDS:Yes, weeds do continue to grow during the winter season. Do not let these unwanted bullies take over your flower beds. A two-to-three inch layer of mulch will prevent most cool season weed seeds from sprouting. It is more effective to keep weeds under control with regular efforts than to try to correct a situation that has gotten out of control due to inattention.
TRANSPLANT TREES AND SHRUBS:December through February is an excellent time to transplant trees and shrubs. Transplanting during the winter season allows the root system of transplants to become better established prior to spring growth and summer heat. This significantly reduces plant stress during the following summer.
POINSETTIAS:Christmas poinsettias are widely available now. Each year, people express concern about the poisonous nature of these beautiful plants. Plant scientists at Ohio State University have proven through extensive testing that they are not poisonous. However, poinsettias may cause moderate to severe gastrointestinal disturbances when ingested in sufficient quantity. Always be sure to keep poinsettias well out of reach of inquisitive toddlers. There is always the possibility that some individuals may be especially sensitive to certain plants, including poinsettias.
PLANT BULBS:Although Christmas is foremost on our minds right now, don't forget those tulip bulbs in the refrigerator as well as other types of bulbs requiring a chill treatment before planting (won't it be great to be able to reclaim that the refrigerator space). They should be planted in late December or by the first week in January after they have received 45-to-60 days of chilling. Tulip bulbs must be planted immediately upon removal from cold storage. Experimental evidence indicates that exposing bulbs to 10-to-14 days of room temperature (72 degrees F.) after removal from cold storage erases the benefits of cold storage.
PRUNING:Don't be in a hurry to prune woody plants. Very late December through early February is usually the best time to perform most winter pruning.
Dr. Johnson is a horticulturist with the Galveston County
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