Nov. 2013 To-Do List: Lower South

Home Depot

blowing leavesThis season of giving thanks reminds us to stop and appreciate the bounty of flowers and foods we harvest from our gardens. The first frost usually arrives soon, sweetening the taste of collard greens, mustard, kale, and turnips. As photosynthesis slows down, leaves begin to show their autumn colors. There’s still plenty to do outdoors as we transplant trees and shrubs, divide perennials, separate peonies, dig carrots, late potatoes, and sweet potatoes, and harvest cabbages. Be ready with floating row cover to protect lettuce and other tender greens if you want to stretch the gardening season a little longer.

  • When planting potted trees, dig holes as least twice the size of the pots. Loosen the roots to ensure they don’t wind around each other.
  • We hope you’re following our series on stretch gardening, so you dried and preserved some flowers and foliage from your yard to make into holiday gifts and decor. If you didn’t, no worries. You can substitute commercially dried or silk flowers. Look through our projects and start soon to get a jump on the season.
  • Use up or drain the fuel from lawn mowers, weedeaters, chainsaws, and other power tools. Be aware that ethanol in fuel will turn to water and damage small engines. When you buy new fuel, add a stabilizer labeled for use with ethanol.
  • Get power tools serviced now for a jump on other gardeners who wait until spring. Sharpen mower and other tool blades and spray them with WD-40.
  • Store chemicals and liquid fertilizers in a location that will stay above 40 degrees F. this winter.
  • Start asparagus beds now, cultivating the ground deeply. Asparagus needs part sun and slightly acidic soil. Plant the crowns in trenches 8 inches deep, with 2″ to 4″ of compost in the bottom of the trench. Backfill so the roots are covered about 6″ deep. Keep backfilling the trench as the soil settles over time. Eventually the trench should be completely filled in. Wait until the second year to harvest.
  • Start strawberry beds, adding lime, if needed, to give the soil a pH of 5.8 to 6.5. Cover the bed with layers of newspaper, and wet them down. Cut slits for each plant, and tuck the crown into the soil, leaving the foliage above the paper. Mulch with straw. Pinch off the strawberry blossoms next spring to encourage the plants to develop good roots and lots of delicious berries in the future.
  • Keep mowing the grass as long as it’s actively growing, using a mulching blade. For the last mowing of the year, cut cool-season grasses like fescue and rye blends to 2-1/2″ high. Warm-season grasses should be cut 1-1/2″ to 2″ high.
  • Sow grass seed now on bare spots. Wait until spring to plant and renovate Zoysia, St. Augustine, and Bermuda grasses. Don’t fertilize these grasses now.
  • Avoid using a pre-emergent on newly seeded or re-seeded lawns. Let the seeds germinate and become established.
  • ┬áPlant peonies. ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ and ‘Festiva Maxima’ are good choices for Southern climates.
  • For natural-looking “drifts” of bulbs, gently toss daffodils or other bulbs that naturalize over the ground. Plant wherever they land.

Got questions about this article or any other garden topic? Go here now to post your gardening ideas, questions, kudos or complaints. We have gardening experts standing by to help you!