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Master Gardeners – It’s November – What should I do?

By Sheri Bethard

Orange County Master Gardeners

November is here and you think gardening is done for the season. I say, no way!!!  There are still many things you can do to keep on gardening. Below are some of the activities that will keep you going outdoors in this cooler weather. How nice it is to be able to go outside, work in the garden/yard and not sweat like a stuck pig… It is so refreshing, I wish it could stay like this all the time, but we know it can’t so take advantage of the nice sunny days with light breezes and do some work outdoors.

One thing you can do is get after those dreaded weeds in your beds. The ground should be softer for digging them up. Once you have accomplished weeding the beds, apply a good 3 – 5 inches of mulch around. This should help keep the weed seeds that have dropped from sprouting next spring and summer. Also, mulch around your plants will help protect the roots from any harsh temperatures. Just remember leave a little space around the trunk of the plants so it does not get too moist and cause fungus or other diseases to form.

In November, you might have to water some, hopefully not much but with the cooler air and breezes, the ground and plants tend to dry out quicker. When the forecast is for the temperatures to get down to freezing, then watering is a must. It keeps the roots and plant hydrated and less likely to freeze. Don’t water the tops of the plants as this will cause the leaves, stems and limbs to freeze. Water at the base of the plants and be sure to water deeply.

If there is a chance of freezing temperatures especially for long durations, covering your plants with a frost cloth of something similar will help. Do not use plastic unless you plan on removing first thing in the morning as the sun will burn your plants. To keep the frost cloth from blowing off, attach it to something like stones or bricks on top of it on the ground. Last year, I built frames around some of my large Tropicals which were to big/tall for my greenhouse and covered them with a 0.9 oz frost cloth and they all were fine even thru the 20ºF temps we had.

IF you are wanting to put some color into your flower beds, there are many plants that will do just fine thru out our winters. To name a few – celosia, lobelia, English daisies, calendulas, alyssum, pansies, violas, stock, snapdragons, phlox, petunias, nasturtiums, dianthus and cyclamen. Group them together in your flower beds to give a bold splash of color. You can dress up containers with them along with using various grasses to give height to them. Remember when designing your containers, you need a thriller, spiller and filler (one fills the pot and is your focal point, something that spills over the sides and a plant that is tall to bring it all together.

For your vegetable gardens, there is still time to plant beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, collards, Asian greens, kale, lettuce, melons, onions, radish, spinach, Swiss chard, turnips and garlic (soft-neck). For growing garlic, you can check the files section on our Facebook page Orange County Master Gardeners or our website in the tab Resources, then Vegetables, Herbs, Berries, Fruit & Nut Trees. Look for Cooking with Garlic – this will tell you how to grow garlic. You can buy most of these plants at your local garden centers or where you purchase your plants.

Now is a great time to start a herb garden. They can easily be incorporated into any garden, vegetable or flower. Or, you could grow them in a container. Those liking full sun are rosemary, lavender, oregano, dill, fennel, sage, Mexican mint marigold and thyme. Those that do best is less sun are basil, parsley, sorrel, oregano and mint. There are many more herbs you could try; this is just a short list. If you do grow them in the ground, planting in a raised bed would be the best, give them some water to start and nature should take over and you can watch them grow and clip what you need when your recipes call for herbs. If you have not already used fresh herbs in cooking, you will be amazed at how they bring out the flavors.

Next week, I will go over Winterizing your Garden Tools. If you have any horticulture questions, please call our Hot Line 409 882-7010, Tues and Thurs. 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. or you can email ocmg1990@gmail.com .