It is in November that the first frigid temperatures sneak in and the falling leaves never seem to stop. The fall color has peaked, and now winter is knocking on the door. Our November garden chores are focused on setting our gardens up for the cold temperatures and tough weather ahead. As the days continue to grow shorter, it’s not so easy to find time out in the sun to get much accomplished. Luckily, our November garden chores are simple and easy.
Get ready for the frost
Bring in any frost sensitive plants still outside.
This is the last chance to save any tender plants in containers before the freeze kills them off. Bring any frost sensitive plants indoors during the winter. Citrus and other tropical fruits grown in containers should come in when temperatures start to dip into the 40°s. Once inside, be sure to mist your plants frequently as the air gets dry with the heat running.
Don’t forget those hanging ferns.
Love those ferns that have been hanging on your porch this year? Bring them inside to help them survive the winter. Boston ferns can be hung in a sunny south facing window. If your fern is root bound, it’s the perfect time to divide. Check out how we split up ours here.
Mulch strawberry plants with straw.
While strawberries thrive in cooler temperatures, when they start to dip below 12 degrees, strawberry plants can suffer pretty serious damage. Spread a 2-3” layer of straw around your strawberry plants once the temperatures start to cool off. This helps insulate the plants in the cold as well as hold moisture in the soil. Plus, it decomposes over time feeding the soil. Strawberry plants love it.
Clean out beds.
Remove any dead or dying plants still left in the vegetable garden. Add disease and pest free plant material to the compost. Anything diseased always goes in the trash. Take the stakes, trellises, and cages out of the garden. Clean off all leaves and leftover plant parts, and bring them into a protected area for winter storage.
Tie vines and cane fruits to their supports.
Winter winds can whip around unprotected plants causing damage and breaking. Tie the plants to their structure or supports using garden twine or recycled hosiery. Clean up the plants while you are tying them up by cleaning out dead leaves and pruning out dying branches.
Protect tender fruits and vegetables from frost.
Prepare any tender plants to be protected with frost cloth. Dig your frost cloth out of storage or get blankets set aside ready to use at a moments notice. When the forecast looks probable for frost, break out the cloth to fully cover and insulate plants from frost and heavy freezes. We try to save all the sensitive plants that we can.
Rake until your arms fall off.
Our yard is full of large old oaks who think it’s a great idea to slowly drop their 10 tons of leaves from now until springtime. Do your best to rake leaves out of the lawn frequently to keep the leaves from smothering out the grass. As the leaves pour in, they are always earmarked for our compost. We start out with huge leaf piles letting them breakdown slowly on their own. Then, when we need organic material to start a new active compost pile, we use up our stockpile of leaves. If you want to drastically speed up leaf decomposition, run them over with a mower once to finely shred them.
Plant for the spring
Plant spring flowering bulbs.
Planting bulbs in the fall gives the plants a jump start on spring growth. The cool weather provides the bulbs the dormancy they require for a beautiful show of blooms in the spring. Some of my favorite fall planted flowers are allium, anemone, daffodils, Dutch iris, and tulips. They are a wonderful start to the spring season.
Transplant woody plants during the winter and fall.
November is the prime time to plant deciduous shrubs and trees. As the plants go dormant, they transplant much easier and more successfully. The transplants focus on establishing their root systems before they leaf out in the spring which sets them up much better for the growing season. Dormant perennials can also be safely transplanted during the fall. Be sure to keep transplants watered as they get established.