November's check list before frost

by David Womack
The Gayly Gardner

Are we gardeners ready for the winter months ahead? We must prepare our environment and our flower and garden beds. There are some seasonal duties that need to be accomplished in November. 

No matter where you live and zones you're in, dates on first of frost are of little use to predict the seasons, which may come early, at the usual time, or late in any year.

Plant talk.

• Get your spring bulb catalogs out; look for your zone chart and begin to design by color and plant your bulbs.

• Perennials are the greatest gardener’s gift, as we plant, divide and revise our flower bed layouts. Share and trade these beauties.

• Don’t forget your roses and the process for winterizing; from pruning, mulching and food supplements.

• Relocate your favorite plants to the indoors. You can now have container gardens. Plant spring bulbs, kitchen garden plants and herbs.

• Most of your trees and shrubs can be pruned from mid-November to mid-March.

• Fruit trees are delicate to prune, if you prune too late the fruit growth cycle could be affected and give a small size in developed fruit. Prune trees when the foliage is off the trees branches (dormant). Remove any sucker starters from the base of the tree and when removing broken or diseased branches, apply a tree sealant to the cuts.

• All those unwanted leaves; remove old leaves from the cool-season grasses. These grasses need to breathe. This will eliminate molding and decay processes. Place these leaves in your compost pile for next season’s growing medium for top dressing.

• Control broadleaf weeds in well-established warm or cool season lawns with a post-emergent broadleaf weed killer. Check your local garden center for the varieties of post-emergent.

If you've been gardening for a while or just a season or two, you've probably been offered seeds to try from this or that plant from the gardens of friends and family. Gardeners like to care and share their experiences with one another.

Let's consider closing our gardens for the winter.

• Your summer compost pile is now going into use. Apply a generous amount to your garden soil along with organic fertilizers. Now the fall vegetation can be added to the pile for your spring garden’s soil.

• Organize the collected seeds from your growing season and add them and your growing notes to your journal.

• Remove all the dead vegetation and any rotten fruit and vegetables. Avoid any plant material that is molded, diseased or blighted. Place these unwanted plant materials in the trash to be hauled far, far away.

• Remove all weeds, grasses and their root systems from the garden area. This can be accomplished by hand cultivating or by using a tiller. The use of a hard tooth rake can help finalize the removal of this debris and level the area.

• Mulch the existing plants that will winter over to the spring season.

• Do a soil test: Determining the soils Ph level in your garden will determine if the soil will benefit from newly added nutrients and organic fertilizers. The soil test results will inform you on soil Ph, levels of potassium (K), phosphorus (P), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), sulfur (S), level of organic matter and lead content.

Ask yourself, when was the last time you winterized your lawn and garden equipment? Take a day out of this month and be a shade tree mechanic.

• Have a section in your garden journals on equipment maintenance and warranties, equipment checklist and servicing records. Also add your D.I.Y. notes on repairs done on your lawn and garden equipment.

• I am constantly replacing wood handles on shovels, rakes and cultivators. I’ve tried all varieties of handles for replacements and found that wood handles have my trust.

• When draining the oil in your lawn equipment, “clumping” kitty litter is very helpful on the cleanup.

• Get the chainsaws roaring and sharpen those chains, also the fuel lines need to be checked for cracking at the fuel tank and carburetor.

Seems like this November’s checklist keeps growing and growing and growing. Happy gardening!

Copyright The Gayly – November 1, 2017 @ 9:30 a.m. CDT.