The Gardener's November Calendar ~ 2017
Despite a relatively warm fall, I was startled to learn this morning that the overnight low in parts of my town dipped to 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Luckily for me, my neighborhood only reached 38. Lately I've been lulled into a false sense of security, with warm fall days hovering in the 60s and 70s. (And ironically, the temperatures will be returning to the 70s for the next two days.) Realizing how close I came to a frost made me realize that I need to get my garden ready for November — stat!
Thanks to my lackadaisical attitude concerning autumn means that I have not yet planted my garlic or planted any spring-blooming bulbs. (I've only bought two small bags of bulbs. Usually I place a huge bulk order.) The email blast from my local garden center delivered frightening news today as well: All remaining perennials will be stashed away for winter storage on Nov. 6, because, well ... winter is coming.
Cue the scary music. Cue the blood-curdling scream. Quick, someone give me a brown paper bag to breathe into.
I'm not ready to don that roof rake just yet. Here are some important garden chores to get completed this month — the sooner the better!
- Garden "Clean-up:" Pile fallen leaves into raised beds to help improve the soil over the winter. Many native butterflies and moths will hibernate in fallen leaves over the winter as well, so keeping as many on your property as possible is really beneficial in the long run. If you can leave perennials standing, do it (because, bees need shelter for winter, too). You can cut back some of the mangy-looking perennials, but leave those hollow stems on top of compost pile or along the back fence for insects to hibernate in. I'll leave my echinacea seed heads up to feed the birds. To read more about reasons to leave gardens somewhat intact over the winter, read this story, which features an awesome photo of a hidden bee, too.
- Sow milkweed. If you plan to sow milkweed seeds outdoors for plants next spring, now is the time to scatter those seeds so they can receive the stratification they need over the winter. For more milkweed growing tips, read more here.
- Harvest dahlias. After the first frost hits, its time to dig these tubers up. I don't have a basement to store my dahlias, and my garage is detached and gets too cold to store them successfully over the winter. Last year, after the frost killed the plants, I dug up my tubers, let the dry dirt fall off, and then stored them in a cardboard box by my front door for the entire winter. I had a 95% success rate of the tubers growing again this year. Periodically, over the winter, I would check to see if the tubers were shriveling up, and if they were, I'd mist them with a little water. While you are at it, harvest caladiums, glads and cannas, too.
- If you haven't yet done so, plant garlic. Cause if you are busy like I am, you haven't planted it yet. For a quick refresher, click here.
- One final haircut. Give the lawn one final mowing, taking with it the leaves. By doing this, they will decompose on top of the lawn, providing nutrients to the soil.
- Bulbs! Finish planting them! Cause I know the discount rack is too good to pass up at this point! As long as the ground isn't frozen, plant plant plant!
- Empty out containers. Terracotta, ceramic and concrete containers can crack if you leave soil in them during the winter. You can reuse the soil by putting it in your raised beds.
- Label plants. Last year I ordered my first set of Plants Map engraved tags and I've been mentally preparing a second list so I can label some perennials before I lose track of them over the winter. On the list to label? My growing aster and echinacea collections as well as new shrubs.
- Plant an amaryllis. Now is the time to start staggering bulbs for blooms this holiday. Check out this Facebook Live video from Natureworks which explains how to plant them. (Maybe this would help with that whole embracing winter thing...)
Happy November! Let's continue the gardening conversation. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and share with me your gardening tasks and ideas to get you through the month! And — stayed tuned! A feature on how to decorate your Thanksgiving table with elements from the garden will be debuting soon here on the blog!
I garden in Zone 6b of Central Connecticut.