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Winter is Coming But Your Garden Still Needs You – November Gardening Tasks

November is upon us and despite being deep into fall there is still plenty that you can do in your garden to get it ready for next spring. For some tasks, this might be the last opportunity that you get before the ground freezes, for others, it is about making your garden ready for the coming cold weather.

Of course, some of the November gardening tasks that you can undertake are climate-dependent. However, irrespective of where you are based there are certain jobs that you can do as the clock ticks over into November.

As well as getting your plants ready for dormancy, November can still present planting opportunities. It is a time when you are going to find an abundance of organic material that you can use in a number of different ways. It is also a month that allows you a window to prepare for spring so that your garden is in the best condition to burst into life.

Planting Vegetables in November

It is still not too late to plant some hardy winter vegetables. There are a number of vegetables that can survive cold weather and frost and provide you with an early crop. Some of the most robust vegetables suitable for planting in November include garlic,  (plant six weeks before a deep freeze for peak growth), cabbage, mustard greens, radishes, broad beans, and peas.

Planting Spring Bulbs

Bulbs that bloom in the spring are usually planted in the fall so that their roots can take hold before the colder winter temperatures arrive. It can be tricky to get the timing right as unseasonably warm weather can see the bulbs sprout and generate top growth, which is likely to be destroyed when the depths of winter cold kick in. However, if you leave it too late your bulbs might not have time to take hold before the cold of winter. November is often seen as an opportune time to plant your bulbs.

Selected Pruning

ice-covered-rose-November Gardening Tasks

Generally, late fall is not considered a great time to prune back plants as with dormancy approaching there will not be much if any new growth to heal the cut. There are though, some plants that you can prune and cut back such as roses and winterizing your lavender.

The optimal window for most rose pruning is two to four weeks before your expected last frost. This often means early November. You should look to prune the top third out of the plants to ensure that they are damaged by snow or their stems become brittle through heavy freezing.

Planting Roses

In addition to pruning, November through until the end of February is the best time to plant ‘bare root roses’. This is the name given to roses in a dormant state that are the bare roots and stem/stork, Generally, around two years old, they are best planted when dormant. They will take and establish themselves fairly quickly and should flower in the first year.   

Cutting Back Annuals

Early November is a good time to think about cutting back annuals. These plants are all about blooming and producing seed. By preventing them from going to seed you force them to put more energy into regrowing. The more you cut the bigger and faster they tend to regrow.  So by cutting back the plants by a third you can produce bushier plants with larger blooms.

Petunias, Calendula, Pansies, Bacopa, Million Bells, and others that don’t have a predominant central stem. Avoid cutting back those that do have central stems such as Marigolds and Snapdragons.

Take Hardwood Cuttings

The best time to take hardwood cuttings is after the plant’s leaves have fallen and the plant has become dormant, but before hard frosts have set in. This makes November the ideal time to take cuttings for replanting. 

This is particularly suitable for fruit plants such as blackcurrant, mulberry, and gooseberries. In addition, it is also the perfect time to take a cutting from the majority of deciduous shrubs such as dogwood, butterfly bush, and mock orange, as well as climbing plants such as honeysuckle, Jasminum, and Vitis.

Creating Leaf Mold

leaves for leaf mold November Gardening Tasks

Being deep into fall, you may look at a lawn and yard full of fallen leaves. You might be looking to add them to your general compost pile or just dispose of them. Another option is creating leaf mold, a type of compost that differs from traditional compost in that the only decomposed material is leaves.

Leaf Mold is easy to make, and short of gathering the leaves, requires almost no effort.  Leaf mold has many benefits and although not as nutrient-rich as compost, improves the overall health and structure of your soil. 

Starting a Compost Pile

November can be a great time to start a new compost pile. The reason is simple: You’re going to have a lot of fresh, organic material at your disposal in November. This is the perfect time to make your compost pile because you’ll have all those leaves that are now falling from trees, as well as the grass clippings from your lawn. If you manage your winter composting process correctly you can end up with humus in three to six months.

Condition Your Soil

November, before any freeze sets in, is a good time to condition your soil. If you have bare patches of soil it is a great opportunity to dig and add manure, peat moss, or other soil amendments to help improve the quality of the soil ready for spring planting.

Take Up and Store French Lavender and Gladioli

November probably presents the last chance you have to take up plants like French Lavender,  Dahila’s, and Gladioli and store them away from the winter weather. You can put them in loam and sand that is slightly damp so that they are in good condition to replant when the warmer weather comes.

Get Rid of Annual Weeds

Late fall, just before winter sets in, is when weeds are at their most vulnerable. This is just before the small seeds of winter annual weeds such as henbit, deadnettle, and common chickweed are likely to be dispersed by tilling, snow, pets, or the wind. November is then a good time to tackle and control some of these more difficult weeds so that when spring arrives, you are free from the worst of them.

Adding Mulch to Boarders and Garden Beds

Adding Mulch to Boarders and Garden Beds - November Gardening Tasks

There are several reasons why adding mulch to your boarders and garden beds in fall is a good idea and why it should be added to your list of November gardening tasks. The most important one is that it insulates the soil and better regulates the soil temperature. This helps plants survive ground frost and the worst of the winter by preventing plant roots and bulbs from reacting to temperature changes that happen during winter.

Summary: November Gardening Tasks

Obviously, the gardening tasks that you can carry out in November are largely going to be based on the climatic conditions of your area. Above are some of the tasks that you can do if you live in a more temperate climate such as the Mid-Atlantic, North East, or Europe.

In truth, these are just some of the tasks. There are many others from taking down plant supports, cleaning out pots and equipment, clearing paths, and giving your lawn one last mow.