Time is not on the gardener’s side. Days are shorter, weather cooler, and inspiration on the wane. Think of November as NOWvember to complete those final garden chores.
By Chris Cohan
Time is not on the gardener’s side. Days are shorter, weather cooler, and inspiration on the wane. Think of November as NOWvember to complete those final garden chores. Rather than prattling on or lamenting what’s past, it’s time to lace up your boots and get going.
Leaves – It’s important to rake up fallen leaves, as they cause suffocation and rot. Do as much composting as possible. Turn compost three times a year to produce rich black results filled with wiggly worms.
Recycle some leaves back into the turf by cross cutting your lawn until the pieces are small enough to decompose. Leaves add much-needed carbon to the soil.
Mulch – Most gardeners blow leaves and, in the process, most mulch along with them. It is important to replace mulch after the final cleanup. Mulch prevents alternate freezing and thawing, and conserves moisture in the ground, preventing winter injury to your plants.
Fertilize – Roots continue to grow all winter while top growth has stopped. It’s important to feed your plants in order to develop a good deep root system. A plant is only as strong as the roots that support it.
Watering – Don’t put your hose away. Continue watering throughout November. This has been a very dry fall making it doubly important to maintain moisture in soil. If a brutal winter hits, many plants will die or become severely winter burned if water is not available to their roots.
Bulbs – The frost is on the pumpkin and it’s time to plant bulbs. Catalogues and garden centers have a wide selection of daffodils, bluebells, snowdrops, anemones, allium, summer-blooming lilies, and fritillaries.
After a long dreary winter you will be ecstatic when the first bulbs bloom. With a little bit of thought and imagination great spring displays can be created. It is easy to run out of planting time. Don’t delay — buy, plant, and enjoy!
Evergreens – Some evergreens turn a bronzy foliage color in winter. The inner needles of others turn yellow and drop. This is a normal. If excessive yellowing takes place, it is an indication the plant was stressed at some time during the year. Hot summers and dry periods can be very stressful on plants and that brings us back to mulch and water.
Perennials – Cut plants down leaving short stems so you will be able to find them in the spring. Clean up all debris. Add compost, if you have it or fertilizer, and cover beds with a two-inch layer of mulch. Do not cut plants that provide winter interest like grasses, Autumn Joy sedum.
Roses – Make sure you clean rose beds of all fallen leaves; they are breeding grounds for insects and diseases. Take a deep breath and cut roses by a third, if not more. This will keep the plant nicely shaped and stimulate flowering next spring. Ramblers and climbers respond well to removing older canes to allow younger ones to grow quickly and flower well. Prune all remaining canes back by one-quarter. Finish with fertilizer, mulch and water.
Lawns – Grow better turf by creating better soil. Stop removing every single grass clipping. Within those clippings is everything your lawn lusts after. Do not let your gardener or significant other blow the lawn to a denuded state. Top-dress lawn with peat moss. If you wish to go one step further, consider using one of the organic products that stimulates soil microbes, releases trapped nutrients, and loosens heavy soils — Jonathan Green and Scott’s Natural Lawn Food are two good ones..
Weeds and clover grow better in an acidic soil. Liming is the natural way to get rid of clover and to give grass a competitive advantage over weeds.
Vegetables – What a mess the vegetable patch has become. Oh, but the tasty memories of fresh tomatoes, peppers, and other vegetables this humble patch of earth produces. What a miracle. To keep the miracles coming, clean the beds of all plants, especially tomatoes.
Do not compost tomatoes; get them to the curb for organic pickup PDQ. Apply cow manure. If you have compost, cultivate and water. Topdressing increases microbial activity and will also help reduce fungus problems in the following year.
Wow, all done and just in time to baste the turkey.