November Organic Gardening Tasks

This calendar was originally published for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Please note that the world of organics is ever-changing with new products on the market. I suggest you find your local organic nursery and get to know the personnel, ask questions and know what Gardening Zone you are in to purchase your best plant selections.

Frosted strawberry leaves

Frosted strawberry leaves (Photo credit: canong2fan)

NOVEMBER

  • Transplant trees and shrubs. Take as much root ball as possible. Dig the hole where you are planning on moving the plant. Fill the hole with water and allow it to drain. After transplanting tree or shrub, rewater the hole and root ball and allow it to drain before backfilling the hole with existing soil. Mulch root system. Do not stake or wrap.
  • Plant and divide spring and summer blooming perennials. Cut dead foliage off perennials unless you want the winter interest of strong stems and flower heads.
  • Finish planting garlic bulbs in October.
  • If you need to do major pruning, now is good time to prune on all shrubs, except those showing berries, and to all trees, except fruit trees.
  • To put nutrients back in the soil, add 20 to 30 pounds of lava sand per 1,000 square feet and in flowerbeds, 2 to 3 cups per 100 square feet.
  • Put a large, dead branch or log to good use. Carve out shallow holes and fill the holes with peanut butter and birdseed.  Place outside, close to a window for easy viewing. Keep the bird book handy.
  • Begin saving citrus rinds (bagged in the freezer) to amend the soil surface in areas where root nematodes have done damage in previous years. Place chopped up rinds in flowerbed areas in January and February.
  • Continue planting spring bulbs for early color. Crocus, muscari and snowdrop are first to appear in the spring. Then, daffodils, jonquils and tazettas, followed by Chinese ground orchids and oxalis. Other bulbs for the North Texas soil and weather conditions are candy lilies, blackberry lilies, crocosmia, oriental lilies, madonna lily and crinums for summer color. Plant rain lilies for spurts of color after thunderstorms. Purchase anemones and ranunculus for January planting.
  • Need some low growing evergreens in your landscape? Plant rosemary, thyme and lavender and reap the benefits of fragrance, herbs for cooking and enjoy the blooms.
  • Put out suet cakes for bird watchingduring cold temperatures. Inexpensive suet cakes can be made at home. Mix 3 parts peanut butter to 1 part cornmeal in a large bowl with birdseed, raisins or other morsels you know birds love. Place a piece of wax paper in the bottom of a pan. Determine what width of cakes you need to fit your suet feeder. Spread mixture and place in freezer until solid. Remove from freezer. Cut squares to fit your suet feeder. Keep any remaining squares in a plastic bag in the freezer. A mesh bag makes an inexpensive suet feeder.

    Suet Cake_1323

    Suet Cake (Photo credit: Bobolink)

  • Cut and hang tansy if burned by frost. Dry the foliage and save it to sprinkle around the house to repel ants in the spring.
  • Cut frost bitten epazote and tie in bundles (6 to 7 stems per bunch). Store until spring. Then, hang the bundles every six feet in barns or eaves of buildings where wasp nests were a problem.
  • Finish mulching flowerbeds with a two to four inch blanket of winter warmth. Because they are inexpensive and will last at least a year, native tree trimmings and compost are good choices to use.
  • Finish collecting rose hips and seeds to disperse in the spring.
  • Clean and store empty terra cotta containers for the winter. Use a mild detergent or soap to clean. Allow them to dry thoroughly for several days. Turn pots upside down and stack one inside the other for storage. Stacking them in this manner helps prevent cracks.
  • Apply a new layer of cedar flakes to greenhouse floor to deter insects. Cedar Fiber Co. at (817) 478‑9241 sells flakes and other cedar products by bag or in bulk.
  • To prepare new spring beds, remove grass and weeds to a depth of two inches. Lay down several layers of newspaper and apply mulch on top of it. This will decompose and make the bed area easier to dig the spring when planting.
  • Renew garden tools with cleaning and sharpening, if necessary. Dip them in a diluted mixture of bleach (1 tablespoon per gallon of water). Dry thoroughly and wipe down with any type of clear oil.  Don’t forget to oil the wooden handles to prevent cracking and drying. To repair small splinters on handles, smooth on a layer of white glue then peel it off.  To remove rust, soak them overnight in white vinegar.  Scrub the next morning.
    garden tools

    garden tools (Photo credit: Pleuntje)

    • Build a cold frame for early spring annuals and vegetables. Use a recycled window for the top cover and scraps of wood for the four sides. Nail together the boards to create a rectangle or square. If the cold frame is large, attach the cover window on hinges for easy lifting. Place the four sides into the soil a few inches to avoid wind drafts. Remove all weeds and grass from inside the area. Amend soil with compost, greensand and/or lava sand and water in. After a couple of weeks of settling, add seedlings. Use a stick or dowel to raise the lid on warm days.
  • Cut evergreen branches for a holiday wreath. Add dried seed heads, berries and fragrant herbs. Replace window boxes and entry containers with berry‑laden limbs or small, wispy gold and silver painted branches.
  • Cover perennial beds with a layer of leaves. The leaves will add warmth and nutrients.
  • Pick up pine cones for fire starter.  To create colorful flames, oak pinecones in solution of Epsom slats and water.  dissolve a pound of Epsom salts in a gallon of water and soak the dried pinecones in the solution for 24 hours.  Let them dry completely before using.

2 comments

  1. Well… We just put out the suet. :) Our garlic is in, but other than cleaning up the other gardens, we don’t have much done. I did see your mention of rose hips- we collected some from the ditches on Sunday. I need to figure out what to do with them now- they are the wild rose. I’ve been wanting to plant more natives in the yard and I think it’d be neat to have some of Iowa’s state flower here and there in our yard.

    1. The rose hips are a wonderful source of Vitamin C. I slice or crush the rise hips a little, then steep in hot water for about 20 minutes. Water should be pinkish. Drink. Enjoy.

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