Category Archives: Winter

Poisonous Holiday Plants

Poisonous Holiday Plants by June Morgan, Master Gardener.  If you have been following the columns by Master Gardeners, you are well aware of the main  toxic plants such as poison oak and ivy found in the summer. But decorative  winter plants also have their dangers, especially those prevalent during the holidays which can pose special threats to our pets and children. Poinsettias have a reputation for being poisonous, but it would be unlikely for a pet or child to ingest enough of the leaves to be really dangerous… Read More →

Conditioning Your Garden in Winter

Conditioning Your Garden in Winter by Stephanie Suesan Smith, PhD, Master Gardener. Although most people do not grow vegetables over the winter, you can still work to make your garden the best it can be next spring.  First, remove all of the old, dead plant material.  If the plants were healthy and died of heat or frost, compost them.  If they had diseases or severe pest problems, it is best to throw the plants into a bag, seal the bag, and throw them in the trash.  If you… Read More →

Christmas Cactus

Christmas Cactus by Stephanie Suesan Smith, Ph.D., Master Gardener. Christmas cactus has segmented stems that are flat and have spines along the edge of the sections.  Most of the year, it is just a slightly odd green plant.  However, when it blooms the blooms are beautiful and unusual, and more than make up for the wall flower appearance of the stems. The Christmas cactus is native to the South American rain forests.  This means that it expects a rather high degree of humidity.  It would be impractical to… Read More →

Late Fall Vegetables

LATE FALL VEGETABLES – Byron Chitwood After our hot summers, we are all looking forward for a change to a cool fall.  With this cooler weather coming on, now is the time to plan for late fall vegetables in our garden plots.  The first ones that come to mind are turnips and beets.  Both of these vegetables are prized for both their greens and roots.  Both can be planted from mid- August through the end of September.  After cleanup of the spaces allocated for the two vegetables, till… Read More →

Bird Feeding in Winter

Bird Feeding in Winter by Dave White. We spend many hours watching and enjoying the numerous species of birds that visit our yard every day. They provide unlimited entertainment, color, activity and music. Some of the native birds frequenting our yard are finches, cardinals, titmice, bluebirds, chickadees, nuthatches, flycatchers, wrens, woodpeckers and crows. There are also many other species who stay for short periods when migrating through our area as they travel to and from their summer and winter destinations. Everyone can experience the same enjoyment by doing… Read More →

Winter Garden Clean-Up

Winter Garden Clean-Up by Byron Chitwood It is time to clean up the garden patch now that we have had some real cold weather. Start with the asparagus bed. The freezes killed the top growth of the asparagus so it is time to remove the dead ferns and get ready for the next harvest season which begins in late February or early march. First of all, the freeze was beneficial since it killed all the chiggers or red bugs. Therefore, you don’t need to worry about getting bitten… Read More →


Poinsettias by Charles Bohmfalk Poinsettias are native to Mexico and were brought to the US in 1828 by the first United States Ambassador to Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett.  The Aztecs called poinsettias “Cuetlaxochitl.”  During the 14th – 16th century the sap was used to control fevers and the red bracts (modified leaves) were used to make a reddish dye.  In the early 1900’s the Ecke family of southern California grew poinsettias outdoors for use as landscape plants and as a cut flower.  Eventually the family grew poinsettias in… Read More →

Using Plants as Holiday Centerpieces

Using Plants as Holiday Centerpieces by June Morgan This is the time to think about centerpieces for the holiday tables.  Catalogs offer glitzy and expensive arrangements, but the savvy gardener can use a lot of what is at home for a do-it-yourself project. For autumn, pumpkins and gourds are indispensible, coming in many colors and striations. Cut pumpkins to use as candle holders or to hold a pot of blooms or greenery. For different heights and lengths of the overall design, use trailing evergreens (please avoid poison ivy… Read More →

Garden Winter Composting

Garden Winter Composting by Byron Chitwood. This is the time of the year when most of the garden vegetable plants have been hit by the first killing frost or freeze.  It is now time to start planning for your spring and late winter garden.  If you are one of those who have the black soil, it is best to keep it amended by adding compostable material. First, pull all the dead vegetable plants that were killed in the frost.  If possible, shred them and one of the easiest… Read More →

Cleanup After the Fall Garden

Cleanup After the Fall Garden by Byron Chitwood After the first killing frost and freeze, most of the fall gardening is over with. The exception might be some of cool hardy crops such as collards, cabbages, broccoli and chard. The rest will have frozen and is ready to be pulled to get ready for the coming spring crops. Pull all the frozen vegetable plants and put them in the compost pile or container. For quicker and more thorough composting, run a lawnmower over the ones with stems such… Read More →