How gleefully you view November gardening really comes down to where you live. Northerners are saddled with a lot of chores that they do not much care for in November. But Southerners delight in the cool days and slower pace of fall vegetable gardening. Even if your garden is already threatened by snow, though, it is important to get out there and take care of business: You will be glad you did come spring.
Northerners can also treat November as a time to evaluate their garden layout. After the cold weather lays everything bare, you can more clearly see the architecture or "bones" of the garden. This is a great time to record critiques of your garden in a garden journal, so that, for next year, you can plan to add hardscape or evergreen shrubs to improve the architecture.
Perform these November garden tasks according to region, whether it be to plant something, to tidy things up, or to decorate for the holidays.
- Rake leaves off the lawn to use in making leaf mold, mulch, or compost.
- Add organic matter to flower borders and other garden beds.
- Cover your compost pile so that the rain does not leach out its nutrients.
In November, the Mid-Atlantic can see both moderate temperatures and some cool weather. Take full advantage of the moderate days. Your garden will appreciate the attention.
- Bring in garden tools for the winter. Clean, sharpen, and oil them first.
- Keep removing weeds. It is easier to see them now that the garden plants have died back. Now is a great time to get rid of some perennial weeds such as field horsetail.
- Keep watering until the ground freezes (after which point water is blocked from getting down to your plants' roots). Pay particular attention to those trees and shrubs you just put in the ground this fall.
- In zone 7, plant spring bulbs.
An early snowstorm is entirely possible in parts of the Midwest in November. In areas such as Minnesota, be sure to take care of business in the yard before it is too late.
- Continue harvesting cool-season vegetables (such as Brussels sprouts) and those that grow underground (such as carrots).
- Keep watering trees and shrubs until the ground freezes.
- There is much you can do to protect a rose bush for the winter. Mound up soil around the crown and cover its bud union. Tie down the canes of climbing roses so that high winds do not whip them around.
- Continue to remove garden debris. If it is free of pests and diseases, you can compost it, otherwise, dispose of it in the trash.
- In zone 6, plant spring bulbs.
November is generally a cool, grey month in the Northeast. It can snow, and truly wintry weather is not that far away.
- Deer-proof evergreen shrubs by encircling them with stakes and attaching burlap to the stakes.
- Protect the bark of saplings from gnawing mice by wrapping tree guards around the lowest parts of the trunks.
- To protect a plant from voles, avoid piling up mulch too close to the plant. If vole damage persists, consider growing vole-resistant plants next year.
- Get the snowblower ready for winter.
- In zone 6, plant spring bulbs.
- Finish raking leaves off the lawn.
- (After Thanksgiving:) Set up those outdoor Christmas decorations now, before it gets bitterly cold outside.
November brings an average high of 52, an average low of 41, and lots of rain to Seattle, for example.
- Before it is too late, sow a cover crop in the vegetable garden.
- Fall is a great time to sow wildflower seeds in that out-of-the-way area of the yard where the hose does not reach. The seeds will not have to deal with a hot, pounding sun right away. When they do sprout in spring, there will be plenty of rain and moderate temperatures for them to thrive in, unaided.
- Practice sound snail and slug control.
November can bring chilly nights to Northern California. But there will still be some warm days. The average high in San Francisco, for example, is 63 degrees F, the average low 50; you will get 9 days of rain. Southern California experiences moderate weather, with an average high of 73 degrees F and an average low of 52 degrees F in Los Angeles, for example, which gets 3 days of rainfall.
In Northern California:
- Harvest your cool-season vegetables often. Practice succession planting to maximize your harvest.
- Sow wildflower seeds.
- Begin control of insect pests in the stone-fruit orchard.
- Plant roses and azaleas.
In Southern California:
- Divide perennials.
- Plant camellias and tropical fruit trees.
- Prune flowering trees after they are done flowering.
In the high desert, temperatures get cool in November. In Santa Fe, New Mexico, for example, expect an average high of 53 degrees F and an average low of 25 degrees F; you will get about 4 days of rain. Phoenix, Arizona, becomes much more moderate in November than it was in prior months: You will have an average high of 76 degrees F, an average low of 52 degrees F. One thing that does not change is that there will be hardly any rain.
- Plant cool-season vegetables.
- Plant new asparagus. Trim back the tops of old asparagus after the frost turns them yellow.
The weather is moderate in November in parts of the Southeast. Atlanta will see an average high of 64 degrees F and an average low of 45; this city will get 9 rainy days in November.
- Keep planting perennials.
- Deter fall cankerworm from your trees by applying sticky barriers, like Tanglefoot, after their leaves have fallen. The "worm" is the larva of an adult moth. The latter emerges from the ground after a hard freeze and begins climbing your trees' trunks. After mating, eggs are laid on small twigs, where they overwinter. The larvae hatch in spring and feed on buds and new leaves.
- Stay posted for frost warnings. Protect tender plants with row covers.