Here’s a list of November Garden tasks that those of us living in the north should be completing before it gets too cold.
As the gardening year winds down for most of us in the north there are still a few garden tasks you should be completing 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!
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.
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 to 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!
Also keep in mind that November is a transition month for most of us, weather-wise. You can have one day in the ’60s and the next in the ’30s. 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 much 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 do still need to be watered 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.
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 compostable materials that can then rot all winter.
One thing to keep in mind, many of us have a lot of rain in November. If your 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!
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 affect the growth of plants, especially newly planted seedlings.
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 months 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 a habitat for birds and other critters in the winter. But there is a problem with that. Along with the birds, garden debris is also a 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 birdhouses 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 them 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 sunscald. 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 are to take a tour of your yard and garden looking for miss-placed tools and other garden supplies. 4 or 5 months of severe 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 everything back inside your shed. That way you won’t 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 is below along with some special winter discounts! Enjoy your winter!!