Nov. 2013 To-Do List: Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

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November is a great time to take stock of the garden and think about what needs to be changed for next year. Make a sketch of your beds, labeling where perennials are while you can still see them. Do you want to plant more tomatoes next spring, or add some roses? If you need to move anything, do it now. Peonies can be separated, and other perennials can be dug and divided. Relocate shrubs and plant new ones. With our relatively mild winters, we can enjoy working in our gardens almost year-round.

  • Prune the long stems of roses now, but wait until January to do more extensive pruning, when the plants are dormant. You don’t want to stimulate a lot of new growth that will be killed in freezing weather.
  • Apply low-release nitrogen to feed your lawn over the winter. Keep mowing as needed, and rake off leaves that smother the grass when they become thick and matted. Otherwise, use a mulching blade to shred the leaves and then add them to the compost pile.
  • For autumn color, plant cool-season annuals like pansies, violas, calendulas, primroses, and Iceland poppies. These can be planted above your spring or summer flowering bulbs, and will help hide the bulb foliage when the blooms are finished next year.
  • We hope you’re following our series on stretch gardening, so you’ll have some dried flowers from your garden to turn into seasonal gifts and decor. But if you didn’t save any flowers or foliage, no worries. You can substitute commercially dried or silk blooms. Look through our projects, and get started soon so you’ll have a jump on the holidays.
  • Prepare a bed for strawberries by digging in lots of compost and manure. Fall planted strawberries usually produce higher yields than those set out in spring. Mulch with plenty of straw, and remember to pinch off the early spring blossoms to encourage a strong root system to form. This will pay off in more berries in the future.
  • Houseplants that have enjoyed the summer outdoors need less water and fertilizer when they come in for the winter. Make sure that their leaves don’t touch the windowpanes, where the sun can burn them (the cold can also cause damage). If you see insect pests, first try knocking them off with a spray of water. If that doesn’t work, use an insecticidal soap spray.
  • To help protect them from frost damage, thoroughly water grapevines, trees, shrubs, container plantings, and tender subtropicals before winter rains begin.
  • Don’t pick citrus fruits until you’re ready to use them. Most will continue to sweeten when they’re left on the trees. Do not spray your trees with dormant oil until you’ve removed all the fruits.
  • Trim asparagus ferns down to soil level after a killing frost, or after they turn brown.

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