November gardening

November is a really awkward time for gardeners. It's not cold enough that you can't do anything, but the snow is coming soon and therefore you really can't do anything. However those warm days really get to you and make you want to get out there and spend some time in the garden, am I right?

Luckily there are a few garden tasks you can do and if you happen to live in a mild climate there are a few things you can actually plant. For instance, I've grown kale all the way up till mid January before even though we get snow. I've also overwintered carrots and picked them in March when the ground thawed.

Of course if you want to try to garden under snow you're going to have to cover everything. Whether you build a cold frame, buy a pre-made greenhouse or just toss some plastic over your plants ... you're going to have to protect them somehow.

You probably already did a lot of cleaning up when you started preparing your garden for winter. If you're like us the first real freeze killed most everything off anyway, so I cleaned that up right after. 

November gardening to-do list

Depending on your climate you may still be able to put bulbs in the ground. I am in zone 5B so my bulbs are already in for the year. However bulbs are notoriously bad at living through storage, so if you bought them and didn't plant them yet...get them in the ground even if you think it's too late!

Remove decorations. 

I tend to overlook a lot of gardening decorations as I'm putting the garden to bed for winter. Now when it's really starting to look bare and dry they stand out more than ever. This makes it very easy to go around and collect all your little statues and hangings instead of leaving them up over winter. Don't be like me and leave your favorite rooster statue out there to crack and break apart in the snow!

Remove fencing.

Take down any temporary fences that you use to keep critters out of your garden. I use a almost 6 ft. tall fence to keep deer out of my main garden, but in the winter I take it down and allow my chickens in. I could leave it up, but guinea fowl are stupid and they get stuck If only the door is open. Lol 

I don't take small fences down from around my bulb beds, because wildlife tend to eat the sprouts in the spring when they start to pop up. It's easier to leave those fences in over winter than try to put them in when the ground is frozen.

If you put bird netting over any of your gardens now is the time to take that down too. I allow wild birds in over winter because they help to pick up any dropped seed that might be in there. Volunteer plants will take over if not! Mostly though I take it down because heavy wet snow on top of the netting can actually pull your fences down, or bend the support poles.

Pansy flower growing in snow

Winter flowers.

Depending what zone you're in you may be able to transplant some cold weather flowers like pansies and mums into the garden. Every year I say I'm going to add pansies to my fall garden and every year I forget, but they tend to do okay even after a frost. Right now my pansies, sweet alyssum, mums and snapdragons are doing wonderfully and will probably hang on  for another month or so.

Again, this is zone 5b. Further south there are lots of flowers that live and bloom through winter! I was thrilled to see the beds full of Cyclamen blooming in San Antonio, Tx last November.

Mulch heavily.

Mulch your garden if you hadn't done it earlier. Don't tell my husband, but I like to run over leaves with the lawn mower multiple times and then spread them on the garden. He's sure it'll ruin the mower and doesn't realize I've been doing it for 10 years. The mower's fine. Lol 

Anyway, the reason for chopping up the leaves is because they tend to mat down and hold moisture if they're full size. Chopping them up also makes it easier for them to break down in the spring when I till them back into the garden. 

Deadhead flowers.

Deadhead anything that still has dry flower heads on it. I didn't do this the first year with my echinacea and it is literally growing everywhere! You also want to do this with herbs like catnip or lemon balm which will continue to grow until a very hard freeze. They probably won't produce any more seed than they already have, but the seeds in the flower heads will continue to dry out and as the winds blow will continue to blow all over your garden.

You'll want a deadhead all that and burn or dispose of it. You can compost seed heads, but the compost pile has to get really hot to kill the seeds, so I generally just forgo adding them to the compost pile to save myself the headache. It's just my luck that the seed heads will be in the one place it doesn't get quite hot enough!

Related reading: 9 Herbs that want to take over your garden.

Deer proof the shrubs. 

This needs done for any shrubs that will stay green through winter if you have a problem with deer. They like to go after my azaleas in the spring. I found that it's best to just run a temporary fence around them. The fence needs to be about 6 ft. high for tall shrubs, and 4 ft. high for shorter shrubs. Only make the fence big enough to go around the shrub with about a half a foot between it and the fence. 

Basically picture you're a deer trying to eat the shrub. Can you reach your head down in and take a bite, can you take a bite of leaves by reaching up? It's better to wrap each shrub individually instead of one big fence that goes around a lot of shrubs. One big fence generally allows space for the deer to jump in and eat everything they want. They can't jump into a small circle around a shrub.

Birdfeeder in Autumn, purple butterfly design

Put out bird feeders. 

As plants die off in the garden, they also die off in the wild. Which means birds need your help to get through winter. Now's the perfect time to put out bird feeders and welcome the birds to your yard. I use both suet and regular seed feeders. Here's my easy suet recipe for cold weather.

Well, that's about it. There's really not much left to do but dream about warmer weather and planning next years garden! Have you started planning yet?

Have you noticed that seeds are on sale lately? Here's how well expired seeds can grow

~L

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