Organic gardener growing food and flowers, lovin' pollinators and birds.

The Gardener's November Calendar

Every year I like to play this game called, “Winter isn’t coming yet.” 

It’s a game of procrastination. How much can I put off planting until my fingers are so frozen that I can’t dig anymore holes for perennials and bulbs? There always seems to be a rush of tasks that were put off all summer. Add to that last-minute purchases from plant and bulb sales, the end of Daylight Savings Time, and falling temperatures – and, well, it can get pretty entertaining — for those watching from their windows anyway. 

Below are some of the garden chores to focus on this month. If you'd prefer the ~2:30 overview, watch this instead:


  • Start microgreens! For a satisfying fresh food kick to your sandwiches, burgers and salads, grow microgreens under lights. This is one of the projects I share in "Micro Food Gardening." They are fast growing and delicious! 

  • Garden clean-up: Fall cleanup doesn’t mean that you need to remove every fallen leaf from the property. I previously shared how this has changed for me over the years, and how it is especially important to leave some plants standing to help native pollinators overwinter.
    • 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 do end up cutting back some perennials, leave those hollow stems on top of compost pile or along the back fence for insects to hibernate in.
  • It’s time to sow milkweed. If you plan to sow milkweed seeds outdoors for plants next spring, 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, it’s 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. I have had success two ways with overwintering dahlias. 
    • After frost arrives, I dig up my tubers and let the dry dirt fall off. One way is to store them in a cardboard box by my front door for the entire winter (this is my "coolest" hallway).  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. I had a 95% success rate of the tubers overwintering. 
    • The second way is to take the tubers and place them in a plastic bin with vermiculite and layer them in. I leave the lid slightly open so that way excess moisture can escape. Read more about ways you can store dahlias from my interview with the Dahlia Man of Newport, Rhode Island. (And while you are at it, harvest caladiums, glads and cannas, too.) 

  • 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.
  • Spring bulbs! As long as the ground isn't frozen, plant plant plant!

  • Label plants before they go dormant. Order permanent tags, such as those from Plants Map. I ordered tags for some of my hellebores and shrubs years ago and they have held up really well! (I am in the process of ordering more to set out before I lose the flimsy disposable tags in the snow.)

  • Plant an amaryllis bulb or paper whites bulbs to keep flowers blooming indoors. Now is the time to start staggering bulbs for blooms this holiday. Paper whites can bloom as soon as three weeks after they are planted, so if you want to prolong the display, plant a new batch every few weeks.  Same goes for amaryllis bulbs as well. You can view more information on planting amaryllis bulbs here.
  • Protect roses. Roses bloom on new wood, and one way to ensure they make it through the winter is by mounding soil up around the base of the rose, which protects the canes from temperature fluctuations.

  • Empty out containers. Terra cotta, 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.

  • Clean bird feeders. If you haven’t already, clean your feeders before filling them with new suet and seed for the winter season.

  • Decorate for the season. Need some decorating ideas for the upcoming holiday season? Look to your garden. Check out these ideas.

  • Tree watch. Take stock of any trees that will need winter pruning, such as pear and apple trees.


I garden in Zone 6b of Central Connecticut. What are you working on in the garden this month?

Originally published: Nov. 2, 2020. Updated: Nov. 1, 2021. 


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