Verdant View – December 2022


Think of December without light…what do you not see? You don’t see the stars in the midnight sky. You don’t see the moon shining its moon tan rays down on us. You don’t see photosynthesis taking place all around us. You don’t see holiday decorations blinking on and off. Pretty sad, right? Now think of all the amazing sights we can witness due to the fact that we do have light.

Of all our senses, sight provides us with the most information about our surroundings, and this is one reason why light has such a big impact on our everyday functioning and mood. Light plays a key role in our circadian rhythm and can affect how well we sleep. Our circadian rhythm is our internal clock. It helps us feel sleepy at night when it gets dark and it also makes us alert during the day. Light exposure provides your brain with information that guides our circadian rhythm. Light can also reduce our fatigue and affect the improvement of our work productivity. And it can positively affect our mood and well-being.

December 21st, 2022 at 21:48 hours is the Winter Solstice. The winter solstice is the day with the shortest period of daylight and longest night of the year. It was used to mark the symbolic death and rebirth of the Sun. Days start growing longer now. The winter solstice was immensely important because people were economically dependent on monitoring the progress of the seasons. 

What to plant in December

December in our area is cool in the mornings and at night, but warm in the afternoons. You will start to see poinsettias everywhere you look.  The Aztecs called poinsettias “cuetlaxochitl.” During the 14th-16th century, the white sticky sap was used to control fevers and the bracts (modified leaves) were used to make a reddish dye. In the viveros you’ll also find Christmas cactus, cineraria, fuchsias, petunias, pansies and snapdragons. You can still plant cool weather veggies now. The birds-of-paradise may stop blooming, but they’ll come back as soon as it begins to warm up. Many plants will be going into a dormant period and this is a good time to prune them, before they start putting out new growth as the weather warms. Don’t over water your plants at this time and fertilize less or not at all. Irrigation should be reduced, not stopped, as plant photosynthesis slows down and cold weather dries plants out. The garden pests are slowing down as well, but keep an eye on them as our ground never freezes and they are with us all year.

Plant more spring-blooming bulbs early this month, and save some to plant from mid-February through mid-March for extended bloom through late spring.

Sow chard, kale, leeks, Bibb, butter crunch and romaine lettuces, mustards, green and bulb onions, flat-leaf parsley, peas, radishes, and savoy-leafed spinaches.  Sprinkle just enough seeds to settle them in.

Norfolk Island pines can become mini holiday trees or solstice bushes by including some tiny lights and sparkly ornaments. Think about repurposing items around the house and garden as decorations.

Don’t worry that your house plants don’t seem too lively now.  They are going dormant, just like many plants outdoors.  Plants need this rest.

“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

— Leonard Cohen

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Francisco Nava
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