November Horticultural Notes, by Margaret Stacey


“I’d rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion” Henry Thoreau

November is a dark month of clean up and readiness, the last glow of autumn before we head inside.

Perennials: Remove the faded leaves and stalks, mark those you will want to divide in the spring, dispose of any leaves with mildew, cut back on grasses and bamboo, remove stakes and supports.

Shrubs: Cut back butterfly bushes and roses, last chance to prune back climbing roses, tie strings around arborvitae, Leyland cypress, laurels and juniper for over winter protection from heavy snows. Prepare burlap or other covering for tender shrubs. If you lost all your flowers on the hydrangeas this year, consider a winter wrap. Nursery stock shrubs in containers can still be planted. Ready anti-desiccant for evergreen protection.

Vegetables: Turn over vegetable patch, ready for early spring planting. Plant seed garlic for mid- summer harvest, harvest cold weather crops but wait with kale until after the first frost. Pot up parsley, chives and rosemary and bring inside for winter herb use.

Bulbs: Plant, plant, plant. Take pictures so you remember where you planted them. Buy more, plant more. They are pennies now.

Houseplants: Help them through the transition period from outside to inside. Increase humidity around them, group Tropicals together for moisture, Geraniums can be kept dormant over winter. Watch for mites. If you want to bother, time to put the Christmas cactus in the dark, along with left over poinsettia, place the paper whites on pebbled trays.

Property Care: Containers should be set off the ground, fragile pots should be emptied (potting soil can be used to fill in garden holes or mixed into the mulch pile) washed and stored. Keep leaves out of the ponds and fountains, check for any cracks or holes in outbuildings. Put steel wool in any opening to prevent rodent visits.

Turf: Still possible to sew grass seed, weed killers will no longer work. Fertilizing is illegal this month (Nov. 1 in Suffolk, Nov. 15 in Nassau). Last mowing of the season should be short.

Wildlife: Time to hang up the birdfeeders, watch for insects on the firewood.

Thanksgiving: Give thanks that you have a garden and all the wonder that nature provides us.  Make your garden part of the day in your home, pick a late booming flower, or decorate with leaves and evergreens, a few herbs or a vegetable. Add a locally grown ingredient to your Thanksgiving meal. Be farm to table!