’Twas a month of celebration, and all through the garden
Perennials were sleeping, and the soil had hardened.
The residents of Suffolk and also of Nassau
Wanted to rest but took out the hacksaw.
Broken branches needed pruning to keep everyone safe
Snow needed shoveling, hands surely would chafe.
But catalogs awaited in mailboxes for browsing
And there was fun to be had, even holiday carousing.
My wish to you all, dear readers and friends,
Is for peace, love and warmth as the current year ends —
And to these chores, each one of you tends:
1. Get tips for picking the perfect Christmas tree at newsday.com/gardening101.
2. Incorporate lime and compost into the vegetable patch; it’ll work magic over winter, and digging will disrupt hibernating insects.
3. Winterize the mower before storing. Your future self will thank you.
4. Mulch first-year parsley now, harvest for a few more weeks and it will return in spring.
5. Loosely tie arborvitae branches to avoid breakage from snow and ice.
6. First-year results may vary, but if the ground isn’t frozen, continue planting bulbs.
7. Inspect trees for weak, broken or dead branches and remove them before they cause damage.
8. Before watering houseplants, let water sit at room temperature 24 hours to eliminate harmful chlorine.
9. Inspect arborvitaes and junipers for bagworms; remove and destroy if found.
10. Even if you rinsed plants before bringing them indoors, check them for insects to avoid an infestation from eggs that went unnoticed.
11. Protect such deer favorites as azaleas, yews and rhododendron with a chicken-wire barricade.
12. Today we honor Joel Roberts Poinsett, credited with introducing the Mexican flor de Nochebuena to the United States, where it became known as the poinsettia.
13. Inspect poinsettias for pests at the nursery to avoid introducing them to your home.
14. Apply winter mulch over bulbs and perennials after the ground freezes. Use pine needles or shredded oak leaves around acid-loving plants like rhododendrons.
15. Send rodents elsewhere by ensuring fallen fruit and plant debris are cleared away from the lawn and garden.
16. Treat broadleaf evergreen foliage with an anti-desiccant to prevent winter dehydration.
17. If you dug up and stored tropical bulbs and corms, check periodically. Mist when dry and discard if rotted or shriveled.
18. Keep bird feeders clean and stocked — and don’t forget to provide fresh water.
19. Dust and rinse houseplant leaves; they’ll “breathe” happier.
20. Keep real mistletoe away from children and pets; it’s poisonous.
21. Clip holly branches and set in a vase for an effortless holiday centerpiece.
22. Happy Hanukkah!
23. It’s winter, but the compost pile is still cooking. Give it a turn and keep adding to it.
24. Keep Christmas trees away from radiators, their water reservoirs full, and turn off lights when you’re away or asleep.
25. Merry Christmas!
26. Place eggplants and red and green peppers on a mkeka for a nature-inspired Kwanzaa decoration.
27. Remember to keep watering evergreens — especially those under eaves — during dry spells in the absence of snow cover.
28. Move houseplants away from drafty windows, especially when overnight temperatures dip below freezing.
29. After snowfall, knock snow from evergreen branches as soon as possible to avoid buckling, bending and breaking.
30. Reduce water and eliminate fertilizer for houseplants until spring.
31. You have one job for today: Have fun and stay safe.