Garden Detective: November chores
November is a time for reflection -- what was successful in the garden, and where did we fail? For anticipation -- of arriving family, friends and celebrations. And for thankfulness -- for all our blessings, our bountiful harvests and for each other. It's also a time for rituals both in the garden and out. Here are some you'll need to observe:
1. Want blooming paperwhites for the holidays? Pot them up now. Amaryllis, too.
2. Winterize the koi pond and cover with netting to keep falling leaves and debris out.
3. For December blooms, store Christmas cactus in complete darkness at 55-60 degrees for 14 hours each night, and in bright light for 10 hours.
4. Turn clocks back an hour; we're back on Standard Time.
5. Winter storms can rip off weak and cracked tree branches. Be proactive and prune them away now.
6. It's Election Day -- be a good citizen and vote. Then come home and rake up some leaves.
7. Harvest winter squash after vines die back but before frost hits.
8. Mow the lawn one last time; shorter than usual, to just 11/2 inches.
9. Protect upright junipers and arborvitaes from potential ice damage; wrap them loosely with twine now.
10. Rodents will be looking to come inside for warmth. Inspect foundations and crawl spaces, and fill gaps and cracks with steel wool.
11. Raise a flag in the garden to honor our veterans.
12. Empty planters and wash with a 90/10 water/bleach solution. Store in garage or shed; clay pots will crack if left outdoors over winter.
13. Clean and stock bird feeders and consider a de-icer for the birdbath.
14. Clear gutters of leaves and debris.
15. Prepare a bed now so you can plant peas in March.
16. Plant evergreens, opting for balled-and-burlapped trees and shrubs over potted when possible.
17. Turn the compost pile. And if you don't have one, now's a good time to start. It will cook all winter.
18. Dig and pot up chives and parsley for indoor snipping all winter long.
19. Protect broadleaf evergreens like rhododendrons from winter dehydration by spraying with an anti-desiccant when temperatures are above 40 degrees.
20. As long as you can dig a hole, continue to plant bulbs. If the ground's too hard, use a dibble or pickax. Just get them in there.
21. Cover the fig tree. Visit newsday.com/home for step-by-step directions and my video tutorial.
22. Happy Thanksgiving! This year I'm mostly thankful for family, friends, good health and the wonderful gig I have writing for you each week.
23. Dig up and store cannas, colocasias, dahlias, caladiums and gladioli after they've been blackened by frost.
24. Cover strawberry plants with two inches of (appropriately) straw to protect them over the winter. They'll be back!
25. Rake thoroughly under roses to help prevent fungal diseases next year.
26. Keep watering recently transplanted and divided plants to ensure they don't die before frost.
27. To retain moisture and protect roots, mulch perennials with an inch of straw, shredded leaves or shredded bark, but only after several hard frosts.
28. Cut asparagus foliage to the ground and mulch with 2 inches of well-rotted manure.
29. Store firewood outdoors to avoid bringing insects into the house.
30. If the mower needs servicing, take it in for sharpening or repairs now and it will be ready when you need it next year.