December Gardening with Big Jims


The festive season is upon us, strawberries are ripe and ready for the picking

and pohutukawas are in full flower.


What a great time to be enjoying your garden with family and friends.


The Edible Garden

  • December is the month when things really get going in the vegetable garden and we start to see some of the rewards for all the hard digging and prep work we put in earlier. This is no time to be resting on our laurels though as there is still plenty we can be doing.
  • The main tasks for this month are watering, feeding, successional plantings, and maybe a touch of spraying if necessary.
  • When watering focus the water on the ground and roots of your plants, rather than spraying water all over the foliage. This will help prevent the spread of fungus diseases and will ensure plants get the water they need. A soaker hose is ideal for watering the vege garden. Remember a good soaking every 2-3 days is more beneficial than a daily light sprinkling.
  • Side dress fast growing green veges feed with Tui Vegetable Food. For veges which are produced from flowers such as tomatoes, peppers, courgettes, a weekly feed of Miracle Gro will give you some veges to be proud of.
  • Keep making successional plantings this month of lettuces, beans, courgettes, cucumbers, radishes, beetroot, tomatoes and sweet corn.
  • This is a good month to plant out rock melons, water melons, pumpkins which all love the warmer weather.
  • Keep pinching back lateral side shoots on tomatoes so that all their energy goes into producing 'fruit' and not stems and leaves. Pick courgettes daily as they start to come on otherwise they will get too big very quickly and the plant will stop producing more flowers.
  • In more humid climates you may notice a touch of mildew or other fungal disease creeping in to the vege patch. React early and a quick spray with Greenguard should get these under control quickly. If problems persist, try spraying with Bravo. Healthy, well fed and watered plants are much more resistant to bugs and diseases so make this your first priority.
  • Any bugs can be controlled with Mavrik, or if caterpillars persist knock them on the head with a dose of Success Naturalyte.
  • Strawberries. Pick fresh from your garden now.


The Flower Garden

  • There is still time to plant out some annuals or potted colour to have the garden looking a picture in time for Xmas - try alyssum, lobelia, petunia, zinnia, salvia, verbena and marigolds.
  • Now is a good time to plant up pots and hanging baskets - the smaller flowered perennial petunias are ideal for this.
  • For shady spots in the garden try some of the new impatiens available now, or chose from one of the many Fuchsia varieties for a stunning Xmas display.
  • Keep deadheading roses and water deeply to ensure a second flush of blooms.
  • Trim back any flowering shrubs that have now finished - this will encourage new growth over summer for next year's flowers.
  • Any spring flowering bulbs that have died off can now be lifted and stored in a cool dry place until planting out again in Jan or Feb.
  • Mulch flower beds with compost or pea straw to conserve moisture and reduce the number of weed that may appear.
  • Don't forget your indoor houseplants either - this warmer weather will be stimulating them into growth - you can help them along with a weekly dose of a liquid plant food like Miracle Gro. For those of you who are time poor a teaspoon of slow release fertiliser such as Osmocote or Acticote will keep them happy for 3-6 months - what could be easier?


  • Avoid cutting lawns too closely at this time of year to prevent moisture loss. Cutting them longer will also help the lawn to keep weeds at bay.