Let’s welcome in the month of December. It’s a time of poinsettias, holly and Christmas Trees. It’s the time for glowing, shiny Christmas ornaments and lights, candy canes, egg nogg and mistletoe. But let’s not forget our gardens and the monthly responsibilities.

We have had very little rain so do not forget to water. Our cold mornings can also dry out plants and soil. The cold winds have blown the remaining autumn leaves from our deciduous trees.

Evaluate your irrigation system and make all necessary adjustments.

Protect all tender plants that are vulnerable to frost. Place potted plants near and under the eaves. Cover larger shrubs with a bed sheet or light blanket.

Clean, sharpen and oil all garden tools. But remember that it is too early to prune fruit trees and roses.

Keep up garden weeding, in addition to looking out for our slimy slugs and snails. Bait accordingly.

This is the ideal time to plant herbaceous flowering plants such as hellebores, pansies, violets, violas, stocks and Iceland poppies.

I recommend using John and Bob’s Blend organic fertilizers. Broadcast accordingly.

It is okay to add fireplace wood ash to your gardens, but only if using hardwoods like oak or almond. Spread evenly and do not make thick piles. Wood ash adds a natural form of potash to your garden.

So, as we enter this magical gleaming month let’s review our past year gardening success and dream and plan out our next growing season.

Mark Koehler

Mark Koehler of Los Banos is an arborist and master gardener, who has degrees in Landscape Architecture and Landscape Horticulture from UC Berkeley and Northeastern University.