November in the Garden

By Lisa Grugin

We have had a beautiful fall so far! It has been a bit warmer than some of my workers would prefer, but I am a warm weather lover. I turn cranky when it gets cold.

I know that many of you will be switching into holiday mode once that calendar page turns to November, but there are still plenty of things that can be done in your yard. This is the month to start “putting your garden to bed.” What does that mean? It means doing a few little things that will help your plants make it through the winter without any worries.

* The first thing of course is a good walk about. You know the drill: Look up, down, and all around to see what is hiding. Check trees, shrubs, perennials, vegetables, and annuals to see how they are doing. Are they happy or sad? Do you have insects, diseases, damage, etc.? Let us know if you have questions about how to address those issues.

* The second thing is a good cleanup. You can dramatically reduce your insect and disease problems next year by cleaning up plant debris this year. Insect eggs and fungal spores like to hang around on old leaves during the winter so they can emerge to a host next spring.

* Cleanup also involves weeding. I know you are tired of pulling weeds, but letting them go to seed will make your life much harder next year. Get as many out as possible and apply a pre-emergent to keep them from coming back. Remember that those products do not stop weeds with bulbs (nut sedge) or “running” weeds (clover, Bermuda, smilax). You will have to keep pulling those.

* This is a good time to add mulch. Some of you had your mulch wash away with the rains, or you might have skipped re-applying it this spring. Mulch helps to keep soil and moisture levels stable. It helps roots establish and keeps perennials from heaving out of the ground.

Once you get things tucked in, there are other things that can be done as well:

* If you have bare areas, keep planting. Trees and shrubs can be planted as long as the ground isn’t frozen. Let’s have a little refresher course on planting trees and shrubs:

1. Dig your hole twice as wide as your root ball, but no deeper.
2. Mix the soil that comes out of the hole 50/50 with a good planting mix or soil conditioner. If your plants want acidic soil, add soil acidifier.
3. Loosen up the roots on your plant.
4. Place your plant into its hole and backfill with the soil mixture. Press the soil firmly around the root ball.
5. Water your plant well and use a root stimulator to help feeder roots establish.

* There are some perennials that can still be planted. You want to get them in soon, however. Roots need to get established before the ground gets too cold.

* Pansies and violas can still be planted. They add such a ray of sunshine when we get into those grey, dreary days of winter!

* Fluff those containers and get them ready for the holidays. Replace annuals with pansies or evergreen foliage. Don’t be afraid to play around with colors and textures!

* Continue to remove falling leaves from grassy areas. Chop them up with your lawn mower and then use them as mulch around your plants. Decomposing leaves are wonderful for your soil!

* Speaking of soil, fall is a good time to add compost and manure so they can break down and enrich your soil during the winter months.

Now I am going to switch gears and talk about Christmas trees, because many of you are buying them earlier than you used to. Here are some things that you need to be aware of:

* There is a shortage. My order was cut 35% by the grower, and some sizes are not available. Many of the growers have gone out of business, and it isn’t a quick fix. Trees take 5-10 years to grow and must be sheared, cleared, and watched. You might end up with a tree that is not quite the size, shape, or variety that you would have preferred. Please remember that all Christmas trees are beautiful once decorated, and don’t let a bare spot or European styling (more space between branches) keep you from buying.

* Ask where the trees come from and when they were cut before you buy, and only buy from a reputable source.

* Keep your tree watered. Use as big a stand as you can, and don’t let it go dry. The tree will seal over if it isn’t in water continuously and will no longer be able to “drink.”

I will talk about other holiday plants next month. We have gorgeous plants and gifts still coming in. Stop by and see us soon!

Meadow View Greenhouses & Garden Center
9885 Highway 11E
Lenoir City, TN 37772