In November, there’s still gardening to be done. Depending on where you live, you may have already experienced a hard freeze and perhaps even a few inches of snow. Although temperatures steadily decrease as we progress through the month, there may still be some stellar days for being outdoors. If this year is similar to most, the first two weeks of the month should provide some excellent gardening opportunities, provided you dress for the weather.
One of the most important items on my to-do list is to make an accounting of the past year and to make plans for the future. My assessment of the season includes notations about the weather and how crops fared given the conditions. Additionally, I want to jot down how many plants I grew. Were eight tomato plants enough or too many? Am I happy with bushels of jalapeno peppers or should I cut back next year? What else do I want to plant next year? There has been much discussion about pollination and growing flowers and other plants specifically to attract pollinators. Don’t let this discussion fade into memory. Make a notation now of which plants you would like to see in your garden next year.
If the soil has not yet frozen and is workable, you can still plant lily bulbs. Tulips and daffodils prefer earlier planting times but if you have forgotten to set them out, plant them now. Alternatively, pot the bulbs indoors to force blooms for some wintertime color. If you have forgotten to dig tender bulbs and corms of dahlias, cannas and gladiolas, do it now.
Plan for your passion. While the path of the sun is still fresh in your mind, choose a planting spot for a new crop. Get a bed ready for raspberries, asparagus or strawberries. The first two of these like to be planted as early as possible in the spring, so work up a bed this fall. Mulch well or cover with cardboard for winter protection against weeds. If your ground has already frozen, you can mulch that area and weeds will be thwarted come spring.
When doing a general garden clean up, remember your ponds. If you don’t have a pond, look around your garden area for a potential location. If you are lucky enough to have one, remove leaf and other vegetative matter and freshen water as needed. Frogs will often overwinter in ponds, but if yours is small and shallow with a solid bottom, like our whiskey-barrel pond, find a new home for the friendly frogs as they will not survive in the solidly frozen pond.
Include the yard and driveway in your clean-up effort. Forgotten tools get buried in the foliage of garden plants or in the weeds in the garden perimeter. Don’t let these tools be permanently lost. As foliage dies back or is pulled, search for those long-lost tools or gloves. Likewise, check the driveway for broken twigs or small branches or other obstacles that might damage your snowblower or be plowed into oblivion.
November is the perfect time to inventory your seed supply and then store them properly to maximize germination. Many seeds will remain viable for at least 2 years if stored in a cool, dry location. Onions, cosmos, parsley and parsnip are the exceptions, remaining viable for only one year. Experts disagree on the longevity of most seeds and many “should” last for 3 or more years. Still, when in doubt, either do a germination test or order a fresh batch. Did you have problems with your seedlings this year? Start fresh with new seeds this spring!