By Carol O’Meara, Colorado State University Extension

To celebrate the season, sing along with me (with apologies to the original version of the carol).  In the final days of Christmas, the garden calls to me:

12 Seeds a-sprouting

In late winter, change up your garden by starting your own seeds.  You’ll expand your varieties beyond the choices everyone is offered and have a garden custom fitted to your taste or pleasure.

11 Pipes a-bursting

If you haven’t gotten your backflow preventers wrapped yet, take time to do so now.  Burst pipes are common in January freezes, so swaddle the backflow device with R13 building insulation or towels, three to four inches thick, wrapping the pipe all the way to the ground. Cover it all with plastic, then secure it with duct tape.

10 Deer a-leaping

Deep in winter when food is scarce, deer, elk, or moose can wreak havoc on thin barked trees and nibble shrubs to shreds.

9 New varieties

Peruse garden catalogs for ideas on new varieties to try, such as kalettes or rainbow carrots. New introductions from around the globe means greater choices to add a thrill to your garden.

8 Mounds for mulching

Make sure your roses and perennials are snugged in with a four-inch layer of mulch. This prevents the ground from cycling between freeze and thaw, plus it helps retain moisture in the summer. Mulch around sapling trees and shrubs, too, being careful to keep the mulch about two inches away from the truck so rodents, insects, and disease organisms can’t tuck themselves up against the bark.

7 Squirrels a-digging

Cover places where bulbs are planted with chicken wire to prevent the pesky critters from digging up your hyacinths, tulips, and crocus.

6 Geese a-laying

They also waddle, stomp, and chase people away from public areas and golf courses, all the while leaving loads of excrement as calling cards. Businesses and cities looking for humane ways of moving those geese along can check out the Goosinator, a radio-controlled contraption that zips over land or water to chase off the birds ( Geese return every year to the pond where they were born, so if you can convince them to leave, your goose problem stays away.

5 Fruitful months

With a short growing season – 150 days – choose your fruit trees wisely.  Look for varieties with long chilling requirements so they flower after most of our frost has passed, but mature and ripen early enough that the fruit is ready before fall.

4 Dry weeks

Give trees and shrubs a big drink every month if we don’t get rain or snow. This helps prevent winter desiccation of branches, needles, or evergreen leaves, and promotes good woody plant health. Be sure to disconnect the hose from the faucet once you’ve finished watering.

3 French drains

Lay plans to redirect rainwater across your landscape to keep the foundation of your home dry while watering your plants. Although Coloradoans aren’t allowed to use rain barrels or capture our precipitation due to water laws, we can give the plants a little boost by directing the rain across the landscape before it enters the storm water system.

2 Mourning doves

Plus finches, chickadees, juncos, and a myriad other birds relying on your kindness for feeding them in winter.

And a gift card to our favorite store!

Colorado State University Extension, together with Boulder County Parks and Open Space, provides unbiased, research-based information about consumer and family issues, horticulture, natural resources, agriculture and 4-H youth development. For more information contact Extension at the Boulder County Fairgrounds, 9595 Nelson Rd., Box B, Longmont, 303.678.6238.