November: To Do
If you really think that I actually do all of these
things, you are terribly confused. Sometimes I even (gasp)
do things that aren't on this list. I don't actually grow
everything that is listed here, but someday, I might want to.
This list is based on my experience gardening in Pleasanton and
Livermore, CA, Sunset Zone 14,
specifically, and I think it is good for all of USDA Zone 9. In
addition, it is probably pretty accurate for USDA Zones 10-11.
- Livermore-Amador Garden Club meets the first Tuesday of every
month at 7 pm at Harvest Park School Auditorium on Valley
Avenue in Pleasanton. Call 462-1461 for more information.
- Mt Diablo Rose Society meets the second Wednesday (November 11)
at 8 pm in the Pleasanton community Garden, Community Room.
Call 846-7451 for more information.
- Interested in herbs. Janet Massaro (443-5066) is putting
together an herb club.
- Pruning seminars will be held December 12 & 13 at 10 am at Alden
Lane Nursery, Alden Lane, Livermore.
General (or it never ends)
- Snail bait.
Recently, my mother's rather stupid dog had an
encounter with powder snail bait. My dogs have never had
the desire to eat the powdery stuff. Her dog, however, did.
Snail bait is not non-toxic. It can cause liver
- Now is an excellent time to head out to the garden with
notebook in hand to take stock of how this year's garden
turned out. I try to do this every month, but I succede in
doing it maybe twice a year. I try to write down what's in
bloom, what looks particularly excellent or what looks terrible,
where there are empty looking spots, and what I might like to do
about changing the garden.
If you keep a consistent notebook you can track what plants do
well, when, and why. It isn't that I have made mistakes in my
garden. Well, I have, but I prefer to think of it as a learning
experience. For example, did some new plant do better than
expected or, perhaps, not as well as you'd hoped? I have a
terrible time remembering what I might have planted and it died
because I pull the dead plant up, toss it, and promptly forget
about it. Then I go to the nursery and buy another one. I
never remember if I don't write it down.
- Rake up those leaves.
- If in danger of an early killing frost, make sure garden is
- Cloud Cover is an option for protecting frost sensitive
Trees and Shrubs
- Plant deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs.
Not all trees change color the same way even within a
species. If you are choosing a tree for fall color, this is
the best time of year to buy it. You can go to the nursery
and see the tree with its fall color or lack thereof. The
tree that reliably gives me the best color is my crepe
myrtle. It turns a glorious, brilliant red every year.
- Water new plants deeply.
- Stake new trees.
- Fertilize established trees and shrubs when dormant.
- Feed camellias every month from the time buds appear
until they are finished flowering.
- Take hardwood cuttings when leaves have fallen.
- Watch for pests and signs of disease.
Azalea leafroller can be controlled with sevin.
- Pink and white camellia blossoms are subject to
sclerotinia, a blossom blight that overwinters in rotting
petals left under camellia bushes. This disfiguring
disease can be prevented by keeping the fallen camellia
leaves raked up.
- Remove beetle-infested pines. You can tell your tree is
infested by its billian rust coloring. These
trees present a falling tree hazard, and they will
continue to spread the infestation to healthy trees.
- Protect your coast live oaks (Quercus agrifolia) and
valley oaks (Q. lobata) by removing thirsty shrubs and
ground covers to a 10 foot radius.
- Prune to shape evergreens like juniper, magnolias, pines,
pittosporums, and spruces.
- Prune out excess brances of shrubs and trees to prevent
- Feed repeat bloomers for as long as they keep setting
buds. My roses bloom well into December,
and some bloom all year round. In my area, the soil is
perpetually low on nitrogen and phosphorous, so I do not feed
with fertilizers that are low in those ingredients, ever.
- Don't let your roses get thirsty. My repeat bloomers are still
producing new buds.
- Pick up dropped leaves. This will go a long ways to preventing
reinfestations of blackspot, rust, and mildew now and next
year. Do not compost.
- You can continue deadheading if your roses continue to bloom
into December (mine do), or you can let the hips develop.
This may help your rose go into dormancy, but mine never
do, not completely. And you may be pleasantly surprised by
some of the hips that you get. I purchased a Rosa rugosa
'Hansa' a few years ago to get hips, but, alas, it is not
suited to my garden. At least, I think that is the problem.
I never get hips. However, I get wonderful hips on my
climbing Joseph's Coat, an unkown yellow rose, and some of my
Lawns and Ground Covers
- Plant ground covers and ornamental grasses.
- Overseed summer lawns with ryegrass; sow cool-weather lawns,
reseed thin or bare spots.
- Water new plantings regularly if dry (and it often is here in
- Mow lawn weekly unless the grass is very dry.
- Aeroate the lawn.
- Divide crowded clumps of ornamental grasses.
- Plant new perennials like canterbury bells, candytuft, columbine,
cyclamens, delphiniums, foxglove, penstemon
- Divide and transplant crowded clumps of spring bloomers.
- Water new plantings regularly.
- Cut back chrysanthemums, as soon as the flowers die, to 6 inches.
- Cut back perennials to 2 to 3 inches when topgrowth starts to
- Weed and clean up debris from beds and borders.
- Apply bacillus thuringensis (BT) to geraniums to prevent
I don't like to use BT because it kills all catapillars,
including monarch butterfly larvae. I don't know that the
monarch larvae is here, but they are endangered.
- Plant pre-cooled bulbs.
I plant mine in January. I had an excellent display last in
1996 (the last time I refridgerated bulbs)
of tulips and hyacinths, so I recommend waiting.
However, I do refridgerate tulip and hyacinth bulbs for at least
- Plant daffodils, dutch iris, ixia, sparaxis, grape hyacinth,
freesia, anemones, ranuculus.
- Dig summer bulbs.
I never do this. My cannas, dahlias, and
gladiolas overwinter just fine.
- Plant hardy annuals, like calendula, ornamental cabbage & kale,
pansies, Iceland poppies,
stock, snap dragons, and violas.
- Fertilize and pinch back annuals already planted for winter
- Water as necessary.
- Pull up spent plants.
- Continue to clean beds and borders.
- Plant hardy annuals.
- Harvest vegetables, herbs, and cut flowers from container
- When annual plants finish blooming or producing, clean out
containers and put contents on the compost pile. Be
careful not include seadheads.
- Watch for pests and signs of disease.
Kitchen Garden: Vegetables and Herbs
- Harvest fall crops: bay leaves, chervil leaves, landcress,
parsley, rosemary, sage, winter purslane, winter savory.
- Pinch the tips off tomato plants. The idea is to focus the life
force of the tomato into the green fruits already on the plant.
- Sow cool-season crops in garden or cold-frame. Angelica,
beets, carrots, chard, fava beans, garlic, herb bennet,
onions, radishes and shallots are good choices.
- Plant broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, parsley, sprouts, chard,
Brussels sprouts, lettuce, and Asian greens.
- Feed, thin, and water crops as needed.
- Take echinacea (purple cone flower) root cuttings.
- Divide ginger. Divide and cutback yarrow and comfrey. Add their
leaves to the compost pile.
- Cut back old elder and bennet stems.
- Pull and compost spent crops and weeds not gone to seed.
- Dig organic matter into soil or plant cover crops in empty
parts of garden.
- Dust veggies with Sevin to prevent insect damage.
- Diazinon granules can line trenches when setting out onions
and garlic to prevent maggot damage.
- If you live in an area with cold, dessicating winter winds (like
the rural hills around Livermore), provide a windbreak for young
evergreens and hedges. In the suburban valley where I live,
this is not necessary.
- Do not cut back young evergreens and hedges like bay or
- Apply a layer of compost to warm their roots and insert
canes in the ground around the plant.
- Fix a windbreak of netting or hessian around the canes.
- Last chance to bring tender plants indoors. It is possible to
grow things like basil all winter indoors if you have a sunny
spot for them. I leave my pelargoniums and verbena outdoors
unless we are in for a hard freeze.
- Mulch tender herbaceous perennials and tender herbs in pots.
- Cut back tender herbaceous herbs by half (to no less
than 3 inches) and mound a mulch of fallen leaves or compost
around their base.
- If the mulch is light, you can keep it in place with a
layer of netting pegged down with bricks or large stones.
- The mulch needs to be at least 3 inches deep to protect the
roots from freeze.
- To cloche
or not to cloche, that is the question.
If your herb/kitchen garden is like mine, your herbs and veggies
are part of the landscape and are not planted in rows.
This makes it difficult to use cloche (plastic or glass tents)
protection. However, you can use woven fleece. Fleece can be
put into place quickely and removed when weather is nice. This
makes it more applicable to USDA zone 9, Sunset zone 14 because
our winters are quite mild.
- Plant fruit trees, berries, and grapes.
- Water new plants deeply.
- Stake new trees.
- Pick up dropped fruit and fallen leaves; compost if healthy.
Fallen leaves become a source of disease in the spring and
harbor bad insects if left on the ground over winter.
Composting generates sufficient heat to kill insects, their
eggs, and some diseases. I recommend against putting diseased
material in the compost pile unless you have a very large pils.
- As soon as all the leaves have dropped, you can start dormant
spray applications. It is best to spray before heavy frosts or
severe winter weather sets in. Spray a mix of a sulfur based
spray and a dormant oil on all fruit trees except apricots; use
a spray formulated for apricots on that particular fruit. Do
not spray if rain is expected, and if it does rain right after
you spray, you should reapply the spray as soon as possible. To
ensure coverage, spray a second time a week after the first
- Thin and cut back brambles.
- Feed citrus.
- Protect citrus from frost with Cloud Cover.
House, greenhouse, or conservatory plants
- If you still have house plants outdoors, you need to bring them
inside. In this area, USDA Zone 9, Sunset Zone 14, it gets cold
enough to kill tender houseplants.
- Out of bloom orchids need regular feeding and watering.
Keep the bark moist and feed every 2 weeks.
Other: Structural and Special
- Check stakes on trees and shrubs.
- Spraying diazinon around house can prevent ant invasion.
- Change sprinkler times to reflect fall rains.
- Tree limbs hanging over your wood shake roofs or
within 10 feet of a chimney are potential fire hazards.
Trim the away from teh foof ans sweep off any needles or
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