The old saying states that down here in the south the weather is always Christmas or summer. While I understand what the phrase means, I think it does a bit of a dis-service to December in the Gulf South. While we are very likely to get some cold weather this month, we are just as likely to receive a whole lot of gorgeous weather that makes it a joy to be outside doing some of the very important garden work that is required this month.
Vegetable and Herb Gardens
By far, the single most important task in the December vegetable garden is planting onions. Southern gardeners need to grow short day varieties and the sets need to go in now. My favorite onion to grow is called the Yellow Granex. It gets big and is oh so sweet. This is the same onion that our friends in Vidalia, Mississippi grow and I get my sets from the same place that they do. Dixondale onions in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley has been growing onion sets for over 100 years. Their website has a huge selection of varieties that do great in our climate and they provide incredible information to help you grow them.
Dixondale Farms has a large selection of quality onion sets that do great throughout the Gulf South.
Perennial and Annual Bloomers
If you want spring blooms of narcissus, daffodils, jonquils or Leucojum you need to plant them now. While you can often find bags of inexpensive bulbs at big box stores and warehouse clubs, they are usually from Europe and not designed to naturalize in our southern climes. If you want beautiful bulbs that readily reproduce and bloom for years, you will be better served by ordering your bulbs from several great on-line specialty sellers like Southern Bulb Company or Brent and Becky’s Bulbs.
Grand Primo narcissus is an old timey narcissus that has been grown successfully in the south for well over 100 years.
Fruit and Nuts
Spray fruit trees with dormant oil. Dormant oils smother scale insects and other sucking insects that plague peaches, plums, pears and apricots (and crepe myrtles too) in the spring. Most of these are refined petroleum products but you can find dormant oils that come from plants oils. Organic dormant oils should carry the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) seal.
This Christmas, give yourself a gift by getting your soil tested. Most gardeners I know (me included) always plan on doing a soil test. However, they never seem to make it down to the extension office to get the bag. Most extension offices have soil testing kits in stock or they will mail you one. A good test will cost about $25 and a great test will be about $100. The information contained in the test results will definitely make you a more successful gardener!
A soil test is one of the very best gifts you can give yourself this holiday season.