7 November Garden Tasks you still need to do!

Here’s a list of November Garden tasks that those of us living in the north should be completing before it gets too cold.

November Garden Tasks

As the gardening year winds down for most of us in the north there are still a few garden tasks you should be competing during the month of November. As always this advice is meant for those of us living in Zones 4 to 7 and even those a bit colder if your ground isn’t frozen. Those of you in the warmer zones can put these tasks off for a bit longer.  Don’t know your garden zone?  Check out this post to learn more about gardening zones!

Plant Garlic

The first of our November garden tasks is planting garlic.  If you haven’t already done so NOW is the time to get some garlic planted. Fall planted garlic will do 100% better than spring planted. And as long as your ground hasn’t frozen there is still time to get some garlic in. It may be getting harder to find seed this time of year, but ask around, many of your gardening friends may have a few cloves they can give you. Of if all else fails you can always plant some from the grocery store.

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The point is that even this late in the year you are better off to plant garlic now than waiting for the spring. Don’t forget to give your garlic bed a layer of protective mulch. Something like straw, leaves or grass clippings. You can learn more about planting garlic from this post.

Put out cold frames & hoop houses

For those of you adventurous enough to garden year round the next November garden tasks is be sure your cold frames and hoop houses are out and covering your winter crops. Get these handy crop protectors out and ready for use. Really cold nights are coming soon and you don’t want to be rushing out to get them set up in the snow!

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Also keep in mind that November is a transition month for most of us, weather wise. You can have one day in the 60’s and the next in the 30’s. So you need to keep a close eye on the temperature inside your cold frames and hoop houses. Temperatures inside a cold frame on a 65 degree day can reach into the high 90’s. That is way to hot for tender winter greens and they will cook for sure. So watch that temperature and vent your cold frames and hoop houses in order to keep the temperature in the 60’s!

Also remember to give your winter crops a couple of good waterings this month. Despite all the cooler weather and moisture this time of year it is still a good idea to water those plants a few times before the ground freezes. (Learn more about building cold frames here)

Dig & Prep beds for spring

I love getting my garden beds ready for spring planting now, in the late fall. Fall is a great time to dig and prep your beds for spring planting. If you take care of all those major tasks now then all the beds will need in the spring is a quick raking with a heavy rake to break up the top surface of the soil. Then you are ready extra early to get your spring plants in.

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If you use a tiller, fall is a great time to get out and till your beds. Have you been thinking about double digging your beds? Again fall is a great time. If you trench compost in your garden, November is a great time to dig a trench and fill it with compost-able materials that can then rot all winter.

One thing to keep in mind, many of us have a lot of rain in November. If you soil is wet then DON”T work it. Digging, tilling or even heavy raking of wet soil can destroy your soil composition and ruin your soil for years to come!

Add compost

Another of the important November garden tasks is adding compost to your soil. Almost any type of soil will benefit from the addition of compost. But sometimes the addition of compost to your garden soil can temporarily rob nitrogen from the soil as the compost finishes breaking down. This can really effect the growth of plants, especially newly planted seedlings.

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I have found it is much better to add your compost in the fall, when there are no plants in your garden. This will give the soil organisms as much as 6 moths to work on whatever final break down of the compost needs to be done. If you add that compost in the fall then all those nutrients will be ready for your plants in the spring!

Remove all dead plants and debris

It’s been a long and productive summer in your garden. I get it, you worked hard all summer and the next of the November garden tasks can be tempting to put off. But you need to get out and do a final clean up of your garden. Pull out all the dead vegetables, rake up the leaves and clean up those perennial beds.

Leaving your garden full of debris and dead plants can be really problematic.

I hear people all the time say they leave their dead plants in the garden as habitat for birds and other critters in the winter. But there is a problem with that. Along with the birds, garden debris is also great cover for many garden pests, slugs, snails, grasshoppers and even aphids will take cover for the winter in the debris scattered around your garden. When spring arrives they will emerge, hungry and ready to reproduce!

It’s a far better practice to keep your garden clean and junk free over the winter months. If you are concerned about the birds then build a few bird houses and feeders for your yard.

Prune and Trim Berry Plants and other trees

November is a great time to prune many of your perennial berry bushes. Remove this years producing canes from plants like Blackberries and Raspberries. In fact depending on the variety of raspberry you may be able to cut the plants completely down.

Also go through your strawberry patch and remove weak and spent plants, clean up debris and then cover your strawberry beds with either a heavy fabric row cover or with some type of organic mulch (like straw or leaves). This November garden tasks will make for a much quicker start to your patch in the spring along with a much higher survival rate for the plants over the winter.

And don’t forget your ornamental trees and shrubs. Fall is NOT the right time to prune them heavily. But you should go around your yard and look for weak or damaged branches that may be torn off the tree by heavy winter snows. It is better for you to cut then off now than to have them break and tear off over the winter. Also look for branches that may rub against your house or roof during those long winter storms. You would be amazed at the damage a small branch, rubbing all winter against your roof can do!

Another of the November garden tasks related to both ornamental and fruit trees is to prevent winter sun scald. If you have trees that are susceptible to winter trunk damage then you should wrap those trunks in November with a white tree wrap to protect them.

Bring in all your tools

The last November garden tasks is to take a tour of your yard and garden looking for miss-placed tools and other garden supplies. 4 or 5 months of sever winter weather can really destroy garden tools.

We all do it, leave a shovel behind a tree or set a rake against a fence somewhere. Take a quick tour of your yard and just make sure you got every thing back inside your shed. That way you wont find rusted garden tools all over the yard next spring!

Finish up these last 7 November garden tasks early and then settle in for a long winters break! It’s time to find a few good gardening books to read. Even better how about a few gardening video courses to watch and learn from over the winter. The entire list of my gardening video courses are below along with some special winter discounts! Enjoy your winter!!

Year Round Gardening – $25
Vegetable Gardening Basics – $15
Seed Starting Simplified – $20
Growing tomato heaven – $10
PVC Drip Irrigation – $10

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  1. Phyllis Butler November 5, 2016 1:57 pm Reply

    I appreciated reading your “7 November Garden Tasks”. About the only fall task I have ever done is to sweep all the pine needles off our very long circular driveway, which amounts of 4 or 5 wheelbarrowfulls, and I spread the needles all around my 4 blueberry bushes. I’m don’t call myself a “gardener” (although I wish I could claim that title!). I’ve planted vegetables, bulbs, perennials & annuals most of my adult life; some with great results, some total flops. I LOVE getting my hands in the soil! I Love feeling that close to nature; so, I go at it every year! I think I’m going to gain a lot of very helpful information from your e-mail/newsletter. Unfortunately, at 75 yrs and on a limited income, I can’t do much more that “take advantage” of your very kind, free information; but, I do thank you for that. I’m sure it helps a lot of folks like myself. Thanks again for a wonderful resource of free gardening information. I’ll be looking forward to each edition. Sincerely yours

    • Mr. Stoney November 5, 2016 4:23 pm Reply

      Thanks Phyllis and thank you for your kind words!

  2. Shanti November 6, 2016 6:14 pm Reply

    Hey there Mr Stoney! As for strawberries, should I cut off any remaining green before I spread straw over them? The leaves are still pretty lively. And for the raspberries, Our new house came with a big patch so I’m not sure which kind they are. It didn’t produce much at all this year, I think the previous owner neglected them a bit. How do I know which canes to cut back? I love your website and newsletters! Thanks so much for all your help!

    • Mr. Stoney November 7, 2016 7:58 am Reply

      Shanti, Great questions! Strawberries – No I never cut back strawberry plants. Those leaves will survive the winter for the most part so just leave them under the straw.
      Raspberries – Without knowing what type of Raspberries you have it is a bit hard to tell you. The varieties I have grown are all ever-bearing but the first crop (June) is very small and hardly worth the effort so I just cut all my berries back every fall (or sometimes early spring). But you might have a different type. You could just cut them all back this fall and see what happens, if you have ever-bearing then you will see new growth in the spring and the a crop starting in mid summer until fall. If you have the one crop variety the you will have growth again next spring but no crop next year. Or you could just leave the canes in place this year. Those that will bear next year will green back up in the spring. The other canes that should be removed will be dead and can be removed.

      Sorry to be so vague, but without knowing the type it’s hard for me to give you advice. I will be trying to get a raspberry care and pruning post and maybe a video up this winter so look for it!!

  3. rita willis November 8, 2016 1:19 pm Reply

    i have pumpkins on the vine strawberries pepper all growing I live Kansas

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