It’s November; the last summer and fall perennials have died back, their roots ruminating under frostbitten soil, waiting for spring. The days of blooming geraniums on a sunlit patio have long passed, but there are still things to do in the garden that will make a big difference in keeping plants cozy and the soil healthy throughout the winter.
Protect Tender Perennials And Shrubs
Tender perennials in containers, such as perennial fuchsia, Mandevilla plants, gardenias, and others with a hardiness tolerance of no less than 0°C, should be moved into the greenhouse, garage, onto a patio, or under the eaves to keep them as warm as possible throughout the winter.
I even add extra protection by wrapping the whole pot with thick blankets. Wrap around the stalks and keep an opening for watering during the winter. Alternatively, burying the entire container into the ground and covering it with mulch works. Just remember where it is next spring!
Before the cold weather sets in, wrap tender shrubs, such as California lilacs, and rose bushes. Canvas covers or burlap allow airflow and help prevent the leaves from frostbite during frigid weather.
Mulch And Cover
It’s tempting to tidy up all the decaying blossoms, stems, and stalks from perennials such as fall anemone, rudbeckia, and more. They may look messy, but, like all those leaves you are raking, they are a cozy blanket keeping the roots of the plants warm over winter, suppressing weeds, and, most importantly, as they decompose, adding organic life to the soil.
If you haven’t already, it’s time to harvest parsnips, the last of the Brussels sprouts, and other fall vegetables. The cooler nights and days have added flavor, making them a bit sweeter. Keep planting garlic, onions, and shallots for an early spring harvest. Mix some kitchen compost with the raked leaves and cover the vegetable bed; this will protect and rejuvenate the soil for spring planting.
Take Care Of Wildlife
Don’t forget about the birds that don’t fly south for winter. Ensure your hummingbird feeder is kept clean and that you have a fresh supply of nectar in the fridge, ready to re-fill it every 3-5 days. Bring the feeder inside on cold nights, so the nectar doesn’t freeze, making sure to put it back out first thing in the morning. Fill other bird feeders with seeds and ensure a fresh water supply is close.
Create an insect hotel by leaving an area of the garden wild and undisturbed over winter, or make a more permanent structure by stacking logs or old wood and drilling holes for the bugs to hibernate. Insects are incredible for gardens; they help control other pests such as aphids, attract birds, and pollinate flowers. They deserve warmth and protection too.
November may not be an exciting time for planting and watching things grow, but ensuring the soil is protected and that the garden, pollinating insects, and birds are snug creates the foundation of what makes an environment flourish.
In the southern hemisphere, November is about enjoying the dividends of that work. Petunias, geraniums, and tomatoes are planted, and spring onions are harvested.
Stay tuned for next month’s gardening tips as we garden together!