This post details November gardening tips with 8 ways to protect and nourish the fruits and vegetables in your kitchen garden.
November Gardening Tips | 8 Ways to Protect and Nourish the Kitchen Garden
November gardening tips for our agricultural zone are all about tidying up the farm, protecting perennial and overwintering crops, and nourishing dormant garden beds. The first frosts arrived in October, but the ground here will not really freeze until December, in a typical year. That being said, I’m not quite sure what a typical year is anymore. For many, frosts and freezes may come later and later each year. We’re all in new territory with the changing weather patterns of late.
November Gardening Tip #1: Clean
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.
This attention should include pathways as well as garden beds. Be sure to burn debris piles if the weather allows. Take advantage of the work-friendly temperature of these mid-autumn days to get on top of all the clutter, overgrowth, and remaining weeds in your garden beds. Then move through the remaining 7 steps for a perfect November garden experience.
November Gardening Tip #2: Fertilize
Adding compost, manure or mushroom soil, and organic fertilizers to clean 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.
Check out these recommended fertilizers from my Amazon shopping place!
November Gardening Tip #3: Mulch
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.
There are several materials you can use to mulch the November kitchen garden, including:
Leaf mulch: simply run your mower over fallen leaves and place them in a thick layer over garden beds. This is my favorite method for mulching my garlic beds.
Straw: this mulching material is a mixed bag in my experience. The straw is a perfect material to hold in moisture and suppress weeds, but in recent years straw has become full of wheat seed. If you decide to mulch with straw, it might be good to leave it out in the rain to germinate any seed before placing it on your garden beds.
Newspaper: layer newspaper over garden beds in very thick portions. Make sure you only use the dull, black and white portions of the newspaper. Never use the glossy inserts. Wet down the newspaper to help hold it in place. I often cover the newspaper with a layer of hardwood mulch. It will compost down nicely by spring.
Grass Clippings: if you live in an area where you are still mowing in November, grass clippings are a great mulch. This high nitrogen mulch is best placed near and around your perennials. Only one caveat, make sure the clippings are not full of seed!
Cardboard: another excellent mulch for the winter garden. Plain brown cardboard, with no glass pictures, will compost away by spring and offer an excellent weed barrier for your garden beds.
November Gardening Tip #4: 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 in on the process of saving bulbs and tubers as a part of the November garden tasks.
November Gardening Tip #5: 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.
November Gardening Tip #6: 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 that 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.
November Gardening Tip #7: 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.
November Gardening Tip #8: 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.
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