November is when the frost begins to make the grass crunchy under your feet in the morning. It’s “hog killing time” when the first hard freezes were once looked forward to as a time cool enough to process a slaughtered hog without it spoiling before it could be salted or smoked. It’s also the best month to plant trees, to harvest greens and to put much of the garden to bed for the winter by digging out weeds, spreading compost and mulching.
- This month is when the greens – collards, turnips, mustards and kale – are the sweetest. You planted your fall crops of these in the late summer, now the bugs are gone and the leafy greens are at their finest. Do cut-and-come-again harvesting, and you’ll have greens all winter. Look to begin harvesting other fall crops, such as broccoli, leeks and cauliflower.
- If you have lettuces under floating row cover, you might extend the season past the first few frosts, but go ahead and harvest as much as you can use now because lettuce won’t last the month. However, you can plant Bibb or other lettuces inside for setting out in February or March. And you can plant English peas or other green peas for harvest and green manure.
- Otherwise, now is the time to lime your garden if needed. Get a soil test from the Agricultural Extension Service to see how much lime your garden wants for the crops you’ll plant in spring.
- You may also plant strawberry plants this time of year. Make sure to mulch well to protect from winter freezes, but fall-planted berries get a head start on spring-planted ones and will be harvestable earlier. (Try planting through newspaper covered with mulch to keep weeds at bay come spring.)
- Tie up berry canes to prevent their breaking under snow or heavy rains.
- Clean up the garden. Pull out spent tomato and pepper plants. Harvest any late potatoes. Mulch or plant green manure to keep winter annual weeds from taking hold.
- Cut most perennials to a couple of inches and move to where you want them in spring. Plant new or rooted cuttings from Sweet William, Shasta daisies, coreopsis, rudbeckia and others.
- Cut old wood from roses. Plant new rose plants. Mulch well for winter.
- Bulb planting is in full swing. Dig bone meal into the soil around bulb planting, but don’t let it touch the bulbs directly.
- Clear away dead canes and stems and neaten beds for the winter. Dig bulbs, such as dahlia and caladiums, now while you can find them. Store them in peat for the winter.
Hardy annuals such as larkspur, cornflowers and others may be sowed this month. Plant pansies and English daisies this month.
SHRUBS AND TREES
- Plant trees and most shrubs now. Plant both deciduous trees and shrubs as soon as leaves fall. Evergreens such as magnolia, hemlock and cryptomeria may also be planted now. Mulch in and water well after planting in saucer shaped holes at least three times the size of the ball or container the plant came in. Plant trees at the same level they were planted in their container. Do not mound mulch up around the trunk, but leave at least six inches of bare ground. Mulch out to the drip line. Water frequently for the first few weeks and again after the growing season begins.
- Put new mulch under trees and shrubs.
- Fertilize fescue lawns and water sod installed in the last few weeks. One inch per week is good.
- Dig out perennial weeds from your lawn.