December 2021 Lawn and Garden Tips
December’s cold, dry weather requires a focus on watering and caring for plants while enjoying holidays by the fire pit. Last month was the seventh coldest November (58F average) on record, but the predictions are for milder average temperatures in December. We are experiencing an early month warmup before the shortest day of the year, on the December 21 Winter Solstice, and a return to colder weather. December high and low temperatures (67F high; 43F low) are the 2nd lowest averages of the year behind January. While December 2019 saw only one freezing day in Jacksonville, there were six in 2020. Keep up to date with your area’s weather forecasts and be prepared to protect your tender plants, pets, and livestock.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD WE WATER OUR LAWN IN DECEMBER?
November 6th and 7th accounted for the majority of Jacksonville’s monthly rain total of 1.64 inches, which is nearly an inch below average for November, which is typically the driest month of the year. While drying out is suitable for reducing the threat of lawn fungus, too little water and watering at the wrong time can also cause problems. The National Weather Service predicts a continuation of below-average precipitation throughout the Southern United States in December.
Earth Works Lawn Care Operations Manager Chad Lakin urges that a healthy lawn needs two watering events per week in December. They can both be rain events or supplemented with a combination of irrigation and hand watering. New lawns, plants, and landscapes should be watered daily for the first month to get them established. Irrigation is restricted to once per week in Jacksonville, coinciding with a return to Standard Time that began on November 6.
Stipulations for Jacksonville’s watering ordinance include:
1) No watering from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
2) Odd number addresses, or addresses ending with letters N-Z, or no address may water only on Saturday.
3) Even number addresses or those ending with A-M may water only on Sunday.
4) Non-residential addresses may water only on Tuesday and
5) Apply up to ¾-inch or less of water one time per week.
WHAT DOES LAWN TURF NEED IN DECEMBER?
Proper care of your lawn during dormancy will directly impact its health in Spring and Summer. Lakin recommends Fall fertilization for root health with an NPK of 0-0-26, which helps protect against grey leaf spot fungus during the growing season. Now is an excellent time to consider soil AERATION & TOP DRESSING your lawn ahead of Spring, a service Earth Works Lawn Maintenance provides. Call or email Earth Works for a quote.
WHICH VEGETABLES CAN I PLANT IN DECEMBER?
December vegetable planting recommendations are the same for November and December, with a few additional veggies added to the soil in January. University of Florida IFAS recommendations for December include Arugula, Beets, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Collards, Kale, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Mustard, Onions, Radish, Spinach, Strawberry, & Turnips. The cabbage at our vegetable tables looks really lovely and healthy now.
WHAT DO I NEED TO START MY CONTAINER GARDEN?
We recommend Wild Earth Soil Mix for your raised beds or container gardening, a rich, light-weight compost mix available by the bag and yard. Espoma Organic Biotone Starter is an excellent planting fertilizer. As always, we have everything from earthworm castings to bat guano for your specific planting soil amendment needs.
BESIDES VEGETABLES, WHAT CAN I PLANT IN DECEMBER?
Palms, fruit, and other trees can be planted in the cold, dry weather of December here in Northeast Florida. Winter is also the time of year to plant colorful annuals, including petunias, supertunias, violas, snapdragons, decorative kale, and Dusty Miller. Earth Works has a large selection of annuals for your garden beds. Poinsettias are plentiful during December, and Anthurium is another long-lasting, heart-shaped flower in a more limited supply with red or white blooms.
WHAT SHOULD I BE CONCERNED WITH MY PLANTS INDOORS IN DECEMBER?
Getting your plants acclimated to indoor living after being brought inside requires extra attention to their light and watering needs. Our heating systems create far different conditions from those our outdoor plants are accustomed to. Regular inspection required watering, rotating, and adjusting plant positions for lighting and away from drafts, fertilization, and remedying pests problems are all part and parcel for active plant parents in Winter.
CAN I START MY BONSAI HOBBY IN DECEMBER?
Bonsai is the Japanese art of growing dwarf trees in pots that can start anytime. These potted plants can be started indoors or out with as little as soil, container, and plant. Earth Works Garden Center Manager Matthew Barlow has decades of experience growing, training, and caring for bonsai plants and is available to answer your specific questions about bonsai. Earth Works likewise has bonsai plants ready to add to your collection or share as gifts during the Christmas holidays.
DO MY KOI FISH NEED SPECIAL CARE IN DECEMBER?
The main concerns involving koi in December revolve around water temperature. Rhonda King, Earth Works Garden Center Associate Manager, discusses in the attached video cold water concerns for koi ponds, including:
-The benefits of a pond thermometer.
-Using the proper cold water food for koi digestive health.
-Now is the time to schedule your pond cleanout before Spring.
IS WINTER A GOOD TIME TO SCHEDULE A LANDSCAPE DESIGN CONSULTATION?
You should have a complete vision and plan for your landscaping before putting a shovel in the dirt. Still, Winter is a perfect time to schedule your landscape design consultation. Working with a professional designer can provide you a written plan to implement all at once or in phases. It can take weeks, even months, to schedule and implement your plan. Don’t wait too late to get your project scheduled to meet your desired completion date.
Don’t let the cold, dry weather of December deter you from caring for your plants and planning ahead for Spring and Summer. Contact us with your questions and for comprehensive solutions to your specific lawn, garden, and landscaping needs, at Earth Works of Jacksonville and 904-996-0712. And remember that Earth Works has gift cards available in any denomination that can be used for any of our products and services. During the month of December 25% of gift card sales are donated to our local charity the Sanctuary on 8th Street.
Earth Works proudly serves clients in Northeast Florida, including Jacksonville, Ponte Vedra Beach, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach, Nocatee, St. Johns, Fleming Island, Orange Park, Middleburg, Green Cove Springs, Amelia Island, Fernandina, and St. Augustine.