Gardening in December

What Zone 8a/8b looks like in December:

Currently, my garden looks a mess, compared to it’s lush August self. I am in garden Zone 8a/8b. We can grow a few things this time of year, but gardening in December doesn’t necessarily mean a lot of time in the yard. Most of the physical work was done back in October. Cover crops (as shown above) were seeded, including a prayer that the local birds and bunnies wouldn’t munch it up before they could take root. It seems to have held up. Well, except in the areas where the chickens free range. I give those girls a little leeway as they work so hard for us, and I’ll let them have a few nibbles. These will grow for a few months, then we’ll turn them under before they flower and seed. They will add important nutrients to our soil for the next season.

What will grow in our December garden?

The bed of greens

In Zone 8, December gardening means lots of greens and cruciferous veggies. Because of this, I enjoy growing these: kale, mustard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, and kohlrabi. We also have cabbage, turnips, chard, and rutabagas. These are generally very productive until freezing temps kick in. Kale and chard will come back again in the late Winter, or early Spring. They may even produce through the winter depending on the weather. We have had a mild November and December thus far. Normally, this would be fantastic for extending the garden production time. Ours has not worked out that way…

What happened to our garden??

The Fall/Winter Garden

Rats! I just don’t even know what to do with them.

My biggest struggle with a suburban garden: battling with the suburban critters for garden control. My garden is littered with an assortment of “cloches” used to cover my new/re-growing starts. I had to uncover them as they grew, and “munch!”…they were critter dinner after we had gone to bed. I replanted 3 times in some cases, and blew through all of the starts that I was so proud to have grown from seed.

Traps were set up in areas where snacking was occurring, and were baited with remnant veggies or peanut butter. We never caught a single one in the garden. Our dog has a strong prey drive, because of this and our chickens, we do not use poison bait out of caution for them. If our weather continues to be mild, we may be able to salvage the rutabagas and turnips. Their greens do not appear to be as popular with the local critters.

This WAS my best Brussels Sprout

I have high hopes!

Gardening in December means I get to dream and have wishes for the upcoming year, no matter what is currently going on in my Fall/Winter garden. Last week, I sat down with my garden journal -a simple graph paper composition book, some seed catalogs, and my seed “suitcase”. I took inventory of the seeds I had left over from the past seasons plantings. Afterwards, I went to my seed wish-list of different veggies that would do well in our garden zone that I had put in my journal months ago, and factored in what I wanted to grow or change. From there, an online visit to True Leaf Market, and I placed my seed order.

Wouldn’t you know? All of the seed catalogs I had requested late in the Spring, showed up while waiting for my seeds to arrive. Even though I no longer need them, they are still fun to look at. Once I am done, I will share them with fellow gardening neighbors.

The Goods:

Below, you will see my seed suitcase, our “favorite” rat trap, and my garden journal.

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