Splendid Christmas scene in the mountain forest. 

Splendid Christmas scene in the mountain forest.  Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/Andrew_Mayovskyy

'Twas the month of December

And inside our house 

There was cocoa and embers

Enjoyed with family and spouse.

It was tempting to sit and enjoy and relax

But I needed to rake and seal all the cracks.

Cleaning and clearing and mulching called, too

A member of the Lake Ronkonkoma Ice Boat Yacht Club...

A member of the Lake Ronkonkoma Ice Boat Yacht Club heads out to the center of Lake Ronkonkoma.  Credit: Jeffrey Basinger

As did wishing a happy new year to you!

1. Watch my video for tips on selecting a healthy Christmas tree that will survive the holidays at newsday.com/gardening101

2. Happy Hanukkah! 

3. Take photos of plants you’re planning to move in the spring, so you’ll remember their locations after they go dormant.

4. No need to pull up parsley. Mulch it now, harvest for most of winter and expect a resurrection in spring.

5. Wash, dry and spray garden tools with a disinfectant before storing for the season.

6. Incorporate compost and lime in vegetable beds to enrich soil over winter.

7. Clean and store clay pots indoors or they may crack in freezing temperatures.

8. Apply anti-desiccant to broadleaf  evergreens to help prevent dehydration over winter.

9. Till and turn soil in vegetable beds to disrupt the life cycle of hibernating insects.

10. Keep a hose handy to water newly planted trees during dry spells but keep them drained so they don’t burst.

11. Check poinsettia plants for white flies (or their eggs) before buying to avoid a holiday infestation.

12. Store seeds in paper envelopes or glass jars in a cool, dark spot. If refrigerating, keep away from fruit.

13. Indoor heating can dehydrate plants. Keep them off radiators and away from vents, and run a humidifier.

14. Dust or rinse houseplant leaves so they can “breathe” better.

15. Looking for the perfect gift for your gardening friend? Visit newsday.com/giftguides

16. Keep your Christmas tree stand reservoir filled with water. Keep it away from radiators, and turn off lights before going to bed.

17. Continue adding to the compost pile; it cooks year-round.

18. Keep mistletoe away from children and pets; its berries and leaves are poisonous.

19. Inspect arborvitaes and junipers for bagworms. Handpick and destroy.

20. After snowfall, use a broom to (gently) knock snow from evergreens to prevent buckled branches.

21. Today is the winter solstice. As long as the ground is frozen, you can apply winter mulch, but hurry: It’s the shortest day of the year.

22. If there’s no snow on the ground, water shrubs that are growing under evergreen trees or roof eaves where rain might not reach them.

23. Place houseplants by a south- or west-facing window to maximize sun exposure, and rotate pots with each watering.

24. Refill bird feeders, and don’t forget to provide fresh water.

25. Merry Christmas!

26. Happy Kwanzaa!

27. Keep off the lawn when it has a frost or snow cover to prevent damage.

28. Reduce water and fertilizer on houseplants until spring.

29. Check stored bulbs and tubers, and mist if they’re dry. Discard if shriveled or rotted.

30. Take advantage of post-holiday sales and stock up on gardening tools and supplies.

31. Opt for magnesium chloride when buying ice-melt products. It’s the most effective and is easiest on the environment and pets.


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