November Gardening Calendar
November sees the waning days of Autumn. Most of the leaves are down, most of the perennials and roses have finished blooming. The chilly days and nights are here, and often rainy days abound. Flurries to full-fledged snowstorms often arrive in November. Nature is slowly putting things to rest for a long winter nap. Football games and hayrides, bonfires and late November holiday gatherings rule.
The wise homeowner takes advantage of the few balmy days that November offers to set up the outdoor Christmas display for the coming season, thus avoiding the unpleasant task of putting up lights and holiday displays during the blustery and damp days of December. The enterprising gardener takes advantage of those same balmy days to finish this season’s tasks of winterizing the garden and taking care of other gardening chores:
1. Finish planting bulbs for next spring’s flowers.
2. Continue to water broadleaf evergreens and young or newly planted trees, shrubs, and roses.
3. If you haven’t had a soil test, get one done now. Add amendments, as recommended. pH takes three or more months to adjust, so now is a good time to add sulfur or lime, as recommended, to adjust your pH.
4. Remove all leaves from rose bushes and any leaf litter from the ground around your roses. Later in the month after a hard freeze, mound up soil, leaves, and mulch around your roses to help them survive the winter, particularly for the less hardy ones or roses that were planted in the past two years. Spray the exposed parts of canes with an anti-dessicant to prevent them from excessively drying out this winter. Do this when daytime temps are in the 40’s or above.
5. After they reach dormancy, give deciduous trees and shrubs a good balanced feeding of organic based fertilizer for start-up growth in the spring. They will take the feeding in as they awaken in the spring.
6. Add burlap and stake plant guards around your broadleaf evergreens after you have applied extra mulch around the plants and have sprayed them with an anti-dessicant, again when daytime temps are in the 40’s or above. Secure the stakes into the ground about 6 to 12 inches to anchor the screening. Leave three or four inches of gap between the ground and the bottom of the burlap for air circulation and to allow a space for you to set the hose around the plant for late season watering.
7. Cut the dead foliage of perennials back to within 4 to 5 inches of the ground. Do leave some seed heads of plants on for winter interest. Rake up or remove any damp leaves to prevent them from matting around plants. These can cause your plants to smother or rot.
8. Continue to shred leaves and use as mulch, soil conditioner, or compost pile material.
9. If you have a hydrangea macrophylla, now is a good time to add extra winter protection to it. One good way is to mound mulch or shredded leaves over the plant and apply burlap covering over the top. If the bush is small enough, cover with mulch or leaves, and invert a bushel basket over the top. Secure these firmly to the ground so they will not blow away. A brick or heavy stone or two on top will work if you are using a bushel basket. These bushes set buds this year for next year’s blooms, and you do not want to lose next year’s flower display to rough winter and early spring weather.
10. Continue to add root crops to a coldframe storage area, or in a cool area such as a basement or unheated garage. For crops that you will be leaving in the ground, add a thick layer of mulch and a tarp that is secured to the ground. You can extend the harvest of cold-tolerant crops into winter by doing this.
11. Set your mower down for the last mowing of the season. Cut the grass shorter than before.
12. Drain fuel or add a fixative for that purpose to mowers, tillers, and other gas-powered tools that will sit idle during these cold months. This is also an excellent time to get mowers and power tools in the shop for tune-up and other maintenance chores.
13. Continue to keep bird feeders full. Word will get around, and you will be amazed at how many visitors will come to call during the winter months if you provide a steady supply of suet and seed!
14. Continue to keep houseplants watered as they need it, and withhold fertilizer as their growth rates slows.
15. Assess your trees and shrubs for crossed branches and weak stems. Only prune those storm damaged branches and weak stems at this time that you missed while they were in leaf. Make a mental note of what trees will need to be pruned in late winter to early spring.
16. If you want to get one jump on spring, empty the soil from your container plants. Add the soil to your garden beds or to the compost pile. Clean the pots and sterilize them, put them away in storage. They will be ready to plant next year.
17. Disconnect hoses from faucets to prevent damage to your plumbing. Only reconnect them if your are going to do watering during above freezing weather. Drain hoses after use to prevent damage to them from freeze-thaw cycles.
18. Later this month, visit an indoor conservatory or greenhouse to enjoy the plants. Or, purchase a few plants to add to your indoor collection!