Saturday, November 26, 2011

End of November Garden Chores

If you are like me, the month of November is not one where you are spending a lot of time thinking about the outdoors,but don't give up completely.  Our yards and gardens still require some attention in the Northeast, and if we spend a little time keeping up now, we will be rewarded next spring and summer.  With that in mind, I have carved out some time this month for garden activities before the snow starts to fall.

Holly Clippings to Use for Christmas Decorations
Last week I took a look at my holly bushes and decided a little trimming was in order.  To be perfectly honest, the trimming was far past due.  My holly bushes were looking a little straggly (is straggly a word?), so out came my trusty clippers. 

I decided the time was right to collect the clippings and hold them in a bucket for some holiday decorations.  Have you thought about doing the same?






I also added to my vegetable garden real estate this month.  Yes, I was so pleased with the bounty of my three 4x4 raised beds this past growing season that my dad made three more 4x4 raised bed frames for me.  I'm so excited!  Next spring will be wonderful for planting.

New Frames for Raised Vegetable Beds

 Other chores to consider this month include:
  • Plant spring bulbs.   You still have time to get those spring bulbs in the ground if the ground isn’t frozen yet.  Take advantage of end-of-season specials on spring-blooming bulbs like tulips and daffodils.   Add a scoop of bone meal in the planting hole to help them grow and try some red pepper flakes to discourage rodents from eating those freshly planted bulbs.
One of the First Signs of Spring
  • Protect roses.  You may want to mound up the soil a few inches around the base of your roses for some extra protection as the ground freezes and thaws through the winter.  Make sure your plants are dormant before doing any pruning. You do not want to stimulate new growth, you'll just get winter kill.
Pink Roses
  • Protect plants. When the ground freezes, you may want to place some straw over strawberry plants and the crowns of your more tender perennials and winter vegetables.   I tend to be lazy in this area and rely on leaves to protect my plants.  November and December is the time to do this because doing it any earlier just makes good nesting spots for rodents (heaven forbid!), but if you wait until the ground freezes, those pesty critters will all have a nice cozy spot elsewhere. 
  • Clean up garden debris. Now that hard frosts have killed most of your herbaceous plants, cut back the dead foliage and put it on your compost pile.
Cut Back Garden Foliage

  • Rake up the leaves from your lawn. Put the leaves on the compost pile. If left on the lawn, they are likely to mat over the winter and damage your lawn in spring.  You can chop them with your lawn mower and leave the little pieces to decompose, but if you have a lot of leaves they need to come up.
  • Bring in all pots and planters. Cold will crack plastic, and freezing water will crack terracotta.  Wash the pots out before putting them away.  That way you'll be all ready to plant in the spring.
There you have it, friends.  Even though the growing season has come to a close in the Northeast the garden still needs our attention.  If you pick a sunny day you can even get a much needed dose of vitamin D.  Your garden benefits and so do you.

Enjoy!

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