Potential for frost
Sudden rain and shorter days
Just as natural cycles cause plants, animals and insects to draw closer to home, move around or grow less and to retain resources, we can copy those behaviors to the benefit of our garden and landscape.
While there is still time to plant winter crops mention in the October notes and cover crops, November is an excellent time to clean up and prepare for the holidays and colder weather.
Fall clean up
If you haven’t already, this is a good time to discard any plants that are not thriving. Annuals and other garden plants that have completed their life cycle are best removed by cutting at ground level, rather than pulling. Pulling plants up by the roots disrupts microbe populations, which interferes with soil health. Also, by cutting plants off at root level, you may get a surprise next spring when that annual turns out to be more tenacious than you thought!
Before the rains get started, this is a good time to look through stacks of materials to see what needs cleaning, repairing, or discarding. Plant saucers and pots should always be scrubbed clean and then soaked in a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water for ten minutes to prevent the spread of disease. They should also be stored upside down to prevent water collection and mosquito breeding.
To rake or not to rake?
As trees drop their leaves, it is a good idea to think about whether or not you should rake. Fallen leaves make excellent compost or mulch but they will interfere with your lawn, if you have one. Leaves should be removed from lawns and concrete (due to staining), but there is no reason that I know of for removing leaves from anywhere else.
Sooty mold fungus
Remember those aphids, mealy bugs, white fly and scale bugs that tormented your garden all summer? Well, they left behind copious amounts of “dew” that creates the perfect growth medium for mold. Sooty mold is common in our area and is easy to recognize as black smudges on leaves and fruit. While the mold can be washed off food and eaten safely, it can be devastating to host plants. The mold actually blocks sunlight from entering the leaves, causing the plant to starve.
Ants carry the disease, so slowing ant traffic can be a big help. The easiest way to block ants is to wrap tape around the trunks of trees and apply sticky barriers to the tape, trim branches away from buildings, fences and other plants, and use ant bait. While you are at it, November is also the perfect time to caulk your home against winter invaders.
Once you have your garden cleaned up and your tools put away, grab a good garden book and start planning for spring!