This is shaping up as a truly memorable day in the recent history of my garden. It has been raining steadily at least since early morning. It began sometime while I was still asnooze in my bed. I got my binoculars and looked through the window out to my rain gauge which is set up in the vegetable garden and discovered that as of noon today we had gotten 1.8 inches of precipitation. Wonderful! As I look out the window, I can see my plants fairly dancing in the rain.
So, there'll be no working outside today as the rain continues to fall. It's a good day for curling up with a book. For me, that is Janet Evanovich's latest in her Stephanie Plum series, Explosive Eighteen. Evanovich is always a fun read.
But I plan to spend some time thinking about gardening. It's time - past time really - to get the garden ready for winter, and there are a lot of things that I need to accomplish over the next two to three weeks.
1. Remove the dead apple tree. This is the most urgent thing on my list. I have a pomegranate tree that has been stuck in a black plastic pot for too long now waiting for that tree to be removed so that I can plant it. With just a little bit of luck, I might be able to do that next week. The old apple tree will make some wonderful-smelling wood for the fireplace this winter.
2. Get the weeds out. Every bed in the garden needs to be weeded before being tucked in for winter. This is another task that I really hope to get completed within the next week.
3. Move a few plants to better locations. This is the never-ending story of my gardening life. Moving plants around. I always find that I have misplaced some of my plants in their initial locations and so I have to pull up roots and move them. This is generally the best time of year to do that. There's less stress for the plant when the weather is cooler and there is some moisture about, and they have a chance to get their roots well-established before they have to face the long ordeal of a Texas summer. I've already started this task, but I still have a few more to do.
4. Get the new planting bed set up. I'm planning a new bed to go around the little fish pond and I want to get it all set up and at least some of the plants installed before Christmas.
5. Apply extra mulch. Most of the beds are already pretty heavily mulched, but there are some that need extra and in other places the mulch just needs to be fluffed up a bit and pulled around the plants to make a nice blanket for them.
6. And speaking of blankets, I need to get some frost cloth before we start having colder weather. Most of my plants are of the tough variety but there are a few that have suffered greatly in the extreme cold stretches that we've had during the last two winters. For the most part, they did come back eventually, but it would be nice if I could offer them some protection so that they didn't have to start over from the ground every spring.
7. Get some winter color. I really need something bright and blooming in my front yard beds for the winter. Pansies? Snapdragons? Cyclamen? Decisions, decisions.
8. Pick the citrus. My Mandarin and 'Meyer' lemon tree are full of ripe fruit that needs to be picked. The kumquat, too, has some ripe fruit, although it is still full of green fruit also. I've been waiting to be very sure that everything is ripe before I plucked it. I tried one of the Mandarins the other day. Ripe and juicy. It's time.
9. Just before frost is expected, there are a few plants that live in pots outside that I need to drag into the garage. Again, most of them have actually spent winters outside before and survived, but it is hard on them and I can make their lives a little easier by providing some protection.
10. Lastly, I need to set up my light table in the garage. Some of the smaller pots can benefit from being under the grow lights and, a little later, I can start some seeds for the spring garden under those lights.
Well, there you have it - my to-do list for December. It's pleasant to think about doing all those chores and just how good the yard will look once they are all done, but for right now, it's still raining. Back to Evanovich/Plum and all those kooky New Jersey characters.