December Gardening Checklist For Austin and Central Texas

December Gardening To-Dos

Possumhaw Holly at the Earth-Kind Demonstration Garden - December gardening to-dos

Possumhaw Holly at the Earth-Kind Demonstration Garden

Gardening often, and should, be less of a priority during the holidays. The colder weather has slowed growth and hopefully is providing enough moisture to reduce the need to irrigate. Use this time to enjoy the results of your labors and spend time in the garden with friends and family. And if you pull the stray weed while giving a guided tour, that’s just a bonus. See below for other things that should be on your December gardening to-dos.

Things to Do in the Garden for December


Continue to feed vegetables with fish emulsion or other water-soluble fertilizer every 2 weeks. Soil microbe activity slows down in the cold so supplemental fertilizer may be needed. There is no need to fertilizer any other plant.


Water vegetable beds so that plantings do not dry out. Check the soil first, irrigate only if the soil is dry a few inches below the surface or in newly established seedbeds.


Seed or transplant hardy winter greens into the vegetable garden but be prepared to protect from frost.


Use mild days to turn compost and build up mulch. Add a thin layer of compost over newly planted groundcovers and vines.


Remove leaves or other debris off lawn surface if they are covering the leaf blades. Green grasses continue to capture sunlight and build reserves during mild winter periods.


Look for dead, dried fruit or blossoms called “mummies” on fruit trees, vines, and bushes. Remove and throw in the trash, do not compost. Remove all fallen fruit. Check for leaf spot on roses. If there are signs of fungal disease, remove the leaves off the stem and rake the fallen leaves together for disposal. Do not add to compost.


Keep up with weeds while they are young, before they have a chance to put down roots. A sharp hoe or cultivator makes quick work in vegetable beds. Small weeds sprouting up in crushed granite are easily dislodged with a few passes of a wide landscape rake. The key in both soil and granite is to go after weeds when they are small and do it regularly so they never have a chance to take root. Take advantage of mild winter days to tidy up the tool shed and the greenhouse. Remove rust from tools and apply a light coat of machine oil for protection. Remove annuals that were killed or burned by frost.


Pay attention to the forecast. If temperatures are predicted to fall below 28° cover plants with row cover, securing edges with soil, bricks, rocks or pins. Plant small flats of broccoli, cauliflower, kale, mustard, collards and cabbage for transplanting in mid-January. Start shopping for seed potatoes and order for the February planting season. See the full Vegetable Garden Planting Guide (Español, 繁体中文) and Vegetable Varieties for Central Texas.

Get Growing!

The American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered.” This handy reference will help you discover the plant virtues in your own garden and serve as a guide for what things to do each month: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and December.

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