Phil’s Garden Tips & Tricks for November

The nights have become longer. The rains have returned. The clouds are lower. The humidity is up. It is time to get the garden ready for its hibernation period!

  • Cover any bare ground with bark mulch (such as medium dark hemlock). Weed the space first, of course—this will insulate your plants from the potential cold to come. It also prevents erosion. As the mulch breaks down it helps the plants by feeding the soil creatures, which in turn give the plants important nutrients. Some plants, such as fuchsias and cannas, always need a blanket of mulch around their base to stave off the cold. The mulch in the summer protects the ground from drying out as quickly and from overheating.
  • Provide winter protection to built-in sprinkler systems by 1. turning off the automatic controller and then 2. turning off the water to the system at the street or at the backflow prevention device and then remember to drain it, if your system has a drain.
  • Prune your roses back about 1/3 height to prevent winter wind damage.
  • If moss is appearing in your lawn it may mean too much shade, poor drainage, low fertility or soil compaction. Use a lawn moss killer if you want to keep the grass looking thick and lush. Of course, you may decide to ultimately shrink your lawn. The rainy season is a great time to ponder and process what that might look like while you are not busy mowing it!
  • Prepare the lawnmower and other garden equipment for winter storage. Clean and oil tools and equipment before storing them away. Store hoses carefully to avoid damage from freezing. Do not leave them attached to the hose bib. In really cold weather, if they have not been both drained properly they might burst!
  • Now is the best time to lime the lawn: 50-80 lb. per thousand square feet.
  • Fertilize the lawn with a fall/winter fertilizer if you did not do it last month.
  • Great time to purchase Paperwhite Narcissus for the holidays by indoor forcing. They will bloom five weeks from the time that you start them.
  • Great time to plant new landscape trees and shrubs or just transplant.
  • Good time to prune the plants which bloomed in late summer.
  • There is still time to plant your spring-flowering bulbs, but don’t delay.
  • Watch for wet soil and drainage problems in your yard during heavy rains; drains/French drains and ditches are possible solutions.
  • You may lightly fertilize rhododendrons and azaleas now, for better green-up in the spring. Never lime these plants as they like acidic soil. Make sure the soil is moist when you fertilize and do not overdo!
  • Always rake leaves off the lawn as soon as you can. Leaves left on lawns can quickly damage a lawn! If the leaves are raked into the beds they will act like a good mulch and will NOT hurt the plants at all.

Advanced Gardening tips:

  • Reduce fertilizer applications to houseplants. Change to Oxygen Plus.
  • Consider supplying food and shelter for attracting wild birds to the garden.
  • Bait garden and flower beds for slugs during rainy periods.
  • Store your potato crop at about 40 degrees in a dark area with moderate humidity.
  • You still have time to plant garlic for a harvest next summer.
  • Fruit tree sanitation: to prevent possible spread of leaf diseases, rake and destroy leaves from around base of trees.
  • Tie raspberry canes to wires; prune to one foot above the top wire (around four feet tall). This is a good time to cut and root Rhododendrons and Camellias; root Begonias from leaf cuttings.
  • Place a layer of composted manure or compost over dormant vegetable garden area.
  • Cover rhubarb and asparagus beds with composted manure and or compost.
  • Rake and compost leaves. A three to four-inch layer of leaves spread over the garden plot prevents soil compaction during the rainy season.
  • Consider tying up limbs of Arborvitaes to prevent breakage by snow or ice.
  • You might want to plant a window garden of lettuce and/or chives.

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