As fall comes to a close and the holiday season peaks there is still much to be done in the Kentucky garden or landscape from winterizing your tools and garden spots to decking your halls with Christmas cheer or creating an indoor garden.
If you planned ahead, harvest can be extended throughout the fall and sometimes well into the winter months. Vegetables that can withstand colder temperatures and therefore worked into fall and early spring gardens include: beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, collards, english peas, kale, kohlrabi, leaf lettuce, mustard, radish, spinach, swiss chard, and turnips. Discontinue watering to minimize freezing damage and cover your bed to maximize their lifespan. As plants die out, pull them and add them to your compost pile for your spring garden.
Those determined to extend the season even further can try bringing the garden inside. If you have the space and the light, it is possible to grow items such as cherry tomatoes, leaf lettuce and even bush beans indoors. However yields and vegetables sizes will be smaller and an easier compromise would be to stick with an indoor herb garden. Take care to have them in larger containers and monitor your watering. Overwatering is the main killer of indoor plants. Rosemary, thyme, sage and oregano in particular must have periods of dry soil between watering. Many decorative container plants can also come in and survive the winter indoors.
Your bountiful harvest last season can continue to delight your friends and family when used as holiday gifts. Jams, jellies and preserves as well as nuts, salsas and relishes make excellent Christmas gifts and can be further embellished with springs of greenery and handmade tags or labels. You can further personalize them with a favorite recipe from your collection.
Outside, your spring bulbs should be in the ground before it freezes. December is a great time to aerate, seed and fertilize your lawn as well. Protect sensitive plants by mulching or even using a screen. Just as larger scale farmers do, you can consider winter covers such as rye or legumes for your garden spot. These can help to add nitrogen and crowd out weeds as well as help to prevent erosion of your raised beds.
Hoses should be drained and stored to prevent them from freezing and cracking. Before storing tools for the winter remove soil and debris using a wire grill brush. Springs and pivot points on tools can be lubricated and metal parts such as cutting edges can be sprayed with WD-40 to prevent rust. You may also want to touch up paint on wheelbarrows and carts to prevent rusting. Wooden handles can be protected against drying and cracking by wiping them with boiled linseed oil.
Trees can still be added to your landscape in the late fall and a few conifers (juniper, spruce, pine, false cypress, hemlock) or other evergreen selections should be considered for year round greenery. These species also add some holiday cheer when you use trimmings from holly, pines, magnolias and others to create swags, garlands and holiday arrangements. Bright green, blue or gold needles and red or blue berries can also be accented with interesting branches, Queen Anne’s Lace, ornamental grasses or other dry fare that is embellished with paint or glitter.