November garden tips and tasks focus on the acts of nourishing and protecting your garden beds and overwintering crops. Read on for a list of ten things you can do before the ground freezes to ensure garden success next year.
November Gardening Tips and To-Do’s:
I can’t stress enough how important it is to remove debris from your garden before winter sets in. Debris and weeds harbor insect grub and other threats to your garden. By finishing up your weeding, removing woody debris, and raking over your garden beds you create an environment that is open to getting the most from winter moisture and temperature changes while limiting threats to your seasonal crops.
Adding compost, manure or mushroom soil, and organic fertilizers to clear beds now helps nutrients become bioavailable next season. As temperatures fluctuate over the next 4 months and microbes in the soil feed, fertilizers are broken down into their base components that are more easily absorbed by your seedlings come spring.
Mulch beds that host bulbs and tubers. Mulching protects the bulbs from extreme cold, maintains moisture, helps build soil as it composts down over time, and makes the garden look nicely organized. I find that last item very gratifying. The well organized November garden is a satisfying antidote to the chaos of the August garden.
Thin Perrenial Roots
If the soil is moist and still relatively warm, November is a good time to dig up root bound perennials. Break up the root balls and replant. This gives the plant the entire winter to re-establish itself and ensure a successful growing season next year.
Extract and Store Bulbs and Tubers
November is the time to dig up those dahlia, begonia and cannas tubers and rhizomes. Gently dig up these root systems, brush off the soil and store in a box of wood chips or sawdust. I’m learning flowers these days, so I’m going to let the good folks at The Fabulous Garden fill us both n on the process of saving bulbs and tubers as a part of the November garden tasks.
Grow Cover Crops
Cover crops are seed mixtures that you place in your garden designed to restore nitrogen and organic matter to your raised beds. My favorite cover crop is Crimson Clover. It hardy, self-seeds, and is beautiful! I like to purchase my cover crop seeds from Johnny’s. Johnny’s Seed is an employee-owned company in Maine that caters to the needs of the small farmer and kitchen gardener. Here’s their list of cover crop seed with a description of their best use.
Protect Fragile Plants form the Cold
I grow a number of perennial plants that are from Mediterranean climates such as figs, bay, and rosemary. There are a number of ways to protect these plants from harsh winter temperatures including stacking straw around them over a layer of newspaper at their roots. I use my old agribon as a winter wrap for these plants. My fig is huge, so its harder to protect. I make sure its root base is well protected from hard freezes (mostly by paying attention to where it was planted in the first place – southern exposure near the house) by layering with comfrey leaves and newspaper, then a layer of mulch.
Tend to Your Compost Bin
We have several compost bins around the property. One near the house for kitchen waste and three near the gardens for yard waste. This time of year, we empty the kitchen composter and spread its compost out on a particularly needy bed, like the one the grew tomatoes. We also take off the top layer of waste from the garden compost bins and dig out the new compost from the bottom of the bins. Then, we stack the uncomposted waste back in the bin and put the fresh compost through our soil sieve. Finally, this fresh compost is applied to our more undernourished garden beds. Now is also a good time to inspect the bins and do any necessary repairs before next season.
Muck the Animal Pens
Do you have backyard chickens and/or goats like we do? Now is a good time to muck those pens and stalls and place the material in your compost bin or directly on the raised beds. We tend to place it directly on the beds and allow the 4 months of winter weather to compost it down. Check with your extension agent for the safest way to use your muck as compost.
Build a Fire, Grab a Beverage and Enjoy!
What’s the sense of working so hard to have these beautiful garden spaces if you can’t enjoy them?!? November is certainly the time to share the seasonal beauty with friends and family around a fire pit, watching the early twilight settle over the garden. I’m from Maryland, and November is always a good time for an oyster roast. Even though I’m far from my beloved Chesapeake Bay these days, I continue to keep the tradition alive each November. Why not start your own winter BQQ tradition to highlight your November garden?
That should keep you busy! Next month we’ll be cleaning tools and equipment!
How did you do with your October garden tasks? Check them out here.
There’s still time to plant garlic and other overwintering crops. Sign up for your free tutorial download here.
How was your Halloween? Learn about the ancient roots of this fall Holiday here.