November gardening tips
Cold winter weather does limit what we can do in the garden in November in our northern Rocky Mountain climate (USDA zones 3, 4 and 5). If ground is still unfrozen, prepare beds for next spring’s early crops. If you still have unfrozen manure or compost it can be spread over vegetable and flower beds and trenched into furrows to receive frost (this will break down over winter and lighten and feed the soil). I have spread manure and compost right over the snow on planting beds and it worked just fine.
Check over which varieties of flowers and vegetables you liked or disliked this year. Make a note of which ones did well. Keep your records up to date if you can. Check stores of fruits and vegetables and discard spoiling ones. Clean all your tools, oil wooden handles and replace cracked ones. Drain gas and oil out of lawnmower for winter.
Finish planting garlic, shallots, and Egyptian walking onions before the ground freezes solid.
Have row covers ready for remaining crops in the field; also have covers ready for cold frames. Carefully store row covers before winter; make sure the fabric is dry before folding and storing.
Early in the month, if not done earlier, harvest and store cabbages. To store them, turn them upside down to dry, take off extra leaves and place them in a trench of sand and cover with a wetproof cover open at both ends to keep them dry. Close the ends of your cover with straw when frosty. Also, to store beets, carrots, parsnips, turnips, salsify for winter: dry and cut the leafy tops off. Dig a pit in a dry place if possible. Put down two inches of sand, then the vegetable roots, then more sand, alternating. Cover them with a final layer of sand and straw to protect them.
Admit air to cold frames and the greenhouse on sunny days; pick off any mildewed or moldy leaves. Apply manure or compost to outdoor asparagus and rhubarb beds to 4 inches deep. Weed onions, leeks, spinach, mache, cresses. In frames, when it is cold, cover lettuces, cabbages, etc. Harvest late and frame–grown cabbage, spinach, carrots, peas, cauliflower, lettuce, broccoli, Brussels sprouts.
If the ground has not frozen solid, finish dividing and replanting perennials before winter freezeup. Transplant seedling perennials and flowers into flats; keep them in a cold frame or cold greenhouse. Mulch primroses, bleeding hearts, and any marginally hardy perennials with pine or fir branches. Cut back established pansies and collect violet seed.
Finish planting bulbs out and plant bulbs to be forced in pots. Weed bulb beds and spread bone meal if not done last month. Put poultry netting over the top of the soil of newly planted tulips, crocus and hyacinths to discourage squirrels and cats who like to dig and scratch into fresh soil. Plant these same bulbs in Vole King wire baskets to protect from voles.
In the greenhouse, plants will be at rest. Keep their foliage dry and do not overwater. Succulent plants such as cacti may need little or no water all winter. If mold appears, dust with sulfur. Moving air inside a greenhouse discourages mold.
If you plan to keep any plants in pots over the winter, plunge them up to their pot rims into a holding bed. The reason for doing this is that plant roots suffer greatly from the wide temperature swings of air during winter. Good substances for this are: fine gravel, bark, sand, sawdust or soil. If you have any bulbs, perennials, roses or shrubs growing in pots outside, be sure to sink them up to the rims to protect them from cold over winter.
Cover cold frames if it is frosty and cold. If you vent the frame, make sure no direct sun hits plants while they are frozen.
Weed fruiting shrubs, add manure to raspberry beds. Finish storing apples, pears, etc. Clean all leaves and mummy fruit around trees to prevent disease and discourage insects. Sow seeds of fruit trees and rootstocks.
Finish planting deciduous shrubs and trees. Mound soil around the base of tender hybrid tea roses to a depth of about 10 to 12 inches. Evergreen boughs may be placed over the soil mound. The soil and boughs will protect the lower portion of tender rose plants over winter.