|November Lawn and Gardent Maintenance Checklist|
· Trees, shrubs and vines.
· Continue to plant spring-flowering bulbs.
· Hardy annuals and biennials, like larkspur, poppies, forget-me-nots, Sweet William, pansies, violas, pinks, snapdragons and candytuft. Get sweet peas into the ground.
· Prepare bed and plant or broadcast wildflower seeds. This can be done in the spring as well but you can get a head start now and focus on other tasks come spring.
· New perennials, strawberries and garlic.
· Time to force amaryllis into flower.
· Leafy vegetables like spinach, lettuce and cabbage and other hardy vegetables like beets, in coldframes or under row covers.
· Divide and replant crowded dahlias after a freeze kills their top growth. In colder areas lift and over-winter indoors in a cool (35-50o), dry place.
· Still time to dig, divide and replant crowded perennials.
· Sow a cover crop.
· Fertilize cool season lawns with a quick-release, high-nitrogen fertilizer to promote root development and early spring green up.
· Test soil for pH and apply limestone accordingly if needed. A soil test is recommended every 2 or 3 years.
· Annuals and perennials lightly with a liquid fertilizer, like 20-20-20, if a slow release fertilizer was not used last month when planted or with earthworm castings, bone meal or blood meal.
· Time-released bulb fertilizer of new and established beds of bulbs, corms, rhizomes and tubers.
· Reduce conventional fertilizer applications to houseplants.
· Miniature roses growing indoors under artificial lights can be fertilized with a liquid water-soluble fertilizer to encourage flowering.
· Remove dead, diseased or damaged branches from trees and shrubs.
· Begin major tree pruning. Remove dead limbs before leaves fall. (Helps identify which limbs need to be removed.)
· Avoid pruning asters, ferns, salvias, mums and other marginally hardy plants to allow the crowns to help insulate them during the winter.
· Depending on your gardening style, leave or cut back perennial stalks to 4 to 6 inches.
· Perennials with winter interest should not be pruned until winter takes its toll and turns the growth to mush.
· Remove spent blooms and seed heads from flowering plants including those brought indoors.
· Cut off the tops of brown perennials, leave roots in the soil.
· Remove yellow leaves and overgrown stems on houseplants. Trim off browned leaf tips with a sharp pair of scissors.
· All in-ground plants, if an early freeze is forecast. Dry roots are more easily damaged by cold.
· Potted plants as needed, usually every few weeks. Be careful not to over-water houseplants, their growth rate also slows with the shorter days.
· Newly planted bulbs to encourage rooting before cooler temperatures arrive.
· Check water needs of potted bulbs that will be forced and of bulbs stored outdoors in cold frames or in the ground.
· Watch houseplants for spider mites, whiteflies, scale and aphids. Spray as needed with an insecticidal soap. Especially those brought in from outdoors.
· Clean up the rose bed to help reduce disease next season.
· Clean up and remove old, dried iris leaves, steams and other debris to help eliminate over-wintering eggs or iris borers.
· Remove all mummified fruit from fruit trees and rake up and destroy fruit and leaves on the ground to reduce insects and disease next year.
· Bagworms and tent caterpillars: remove and destroy bags.
· If cabbage leaves look lacy, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), Dipel, Thuricide.
· Pre-treat for spring weeds: spread pre-emergent herbicide, FL Winterizer & Weed Preventer, Balan.
· Hand-pull any young winter weeds or cover with a shallow layer of compost.
· Update your gardening journal and make plans for improvements next year.
· Encourage African violets to bloom by giving them plenty of light.
· Over-seeded ryegrass lawns should be mowed between 1 and 2-1/2 inches high.
· Harvest sweet potatoes, gourds, pumpkins and winter squash before killing frost (more than six hours below 26o).
· Summer bulbs that could be killed by winter freezes should be lifted, dried and stored in a cool, dark area after first frost.
· Be sure tender plants are protected from frost. Mulching with bark, sawdust or straw will help create a blanket of protection over the root system. If the weather gets suddenly cold, place burlap, cloth or dark plastic over tender plants to give them some added protection. Be sure to remove this covering when the weather has stabilized.
· Harvest broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts while the heads are still compact.
· Move containers holding live plants to a protected spot. Protect roots by covering the soil with straw or leaves.
· Water gardens: remove tender plants, above-ground water containers or plants from shallow ponds to over-winter indoors. Also remove any floating plants you do not wish to keep to prevent them from rotting and fouling the water.
· Remove frost-killed annuals.
· Add organic matter then till annual flower beds to improve soil. Cover with a mulch to avoid compaction from winter rains.
· Continue mowing lawn as needed. As tree leaves fall, run them through the mower (remove bagger), allowing the shredded leaves to remain on the lawn. Be sure to mow only when grass and leaves are dry. Once the lawn is dormant, rake fallen leaves from the lawn to prevent winter suffocation. Place leaves in a compost pile.
· Turn compost piles.
· When you have finished the last mowing of the year, make sure the mower is properly stored. Run it until it is out of fuel...old gas can turn to varnish and severely damage the engine. Replace worn spark plugs.
· Clean, oil, repair or replace sprayers, and other equipment. Sharpen, clean and oil metal garden tools for winter storage. Place some sand and some oil in a large bucket, then slide the garden tools in and out of the sand. This will do an excellent job of cleaning them, as well as applying a light coat of oil to prevent rusting.
· Coat wooden tool handles with boiled linseed oil to help prevent drying and cracking leading to splinters. Soak a rag in boiled linseed oil and slowly rub the handle, allowing the wood to absorb the oil. Let sit and repeat procedure several times. Linseed oil damp or soaked rags or paper stored in dry containers or in piles can be spontaneously combustible and create a serious fire hazard. Linseed soaked rags and paper should be soaked in water, machine washed with detergent or individually set out flat to dry hard before disposal.
· Drain garden hoses and sprinklers and store indoors for increased life. If you decide to leave them outside, unscrew them from the faucets.
· Protect built-in sprinkler systems: drain the system, insulate the valve mechanisms.
· Harvest mature, green tomatoes before frost when daytime temperatures are consistently below 65o and ripen indoors in the dark. Store at 55-70o; the warmer the temperatures, the faster they ripen.
· Collect seeds of non-hybrid flowers.
· Make sure the canes of climbing roses and other vining plants are securely fastened to their supports. Winter winds can whip and severely damage unprotected plants. Don’t tie them so tightly the string or twist-tie cuts into the stem. Use a length of an old nylon stocking because it will stretch as the plant grows, rather than cutting into the stem, as string will do.
· Keep leaves raked from the lawn. They should be composted. Alternatively, you can just mow over them, turning them to mulch which adds important nutrients back to the lawn.
· Winter heating dries the air out in your home considerably. Help houseplants survive by misting them or placing the pots on a pebble filled tray of water to ensure adequate humidity and moisture.
· Use small stakes or markers where you’ve planted bulbs or late-starting spring plants in the perennial garden, to avoid disturbing them when you begin spring soil preparation.
· Birdbaths, fountains and pots made of concrete or terra-cotta are susceptible to damage from freezing weather. Remove soil and scrub out pots, then store in a dry shed or a garage.
· If you’ve purchased gourds this year as decorations, plan to grow them yourself next year. They make great garden projects for kids.
· Be sure not to store apples or pears with vegetables. The fruits give off ethylene gas which speeds up the breakdown of vegetables and will cause them to develop off flavors.
· Removing stakes, string and plastic as well as fibrous vines and stems and rotting vegetables.
· Ornamental grasses provide wonderful interest at this time of year.
· A light mulch of shredded leaves or straw on carrots, turnips and other root vegetables will help protect against freezing. Straw is the best mulch to use because it is hollow and that provides good insulation. If you use leaves, make sure they are finely chopped to prevent them from matting down.
· Fall is an excellent time to dethatch, reseed and patch the lawn.
· Wrap trunks of young trees to prevent winter sun scald injury.
· If you saved amaryllis bulb from last year now is the time to bring it in, repot it, water it well and place in a bright room. You should have wonderful blooms by Christmas.
· Hanging baskets should be emptied and washed thoroughly with soap and mild bleach solution before being put away for the winter.
· Thoroughly clean the greenhouse, inside and out. Don’t worry about sterilising all the surfaces - a good wash and scrub with a stiff brush will suffice. If you have a power washer the job will be very easy, but remember to do this on a sunny day and remove plants before you start, to ensure they are not damaged by the spray.
· Feed the birds and other small creatures which may not be able to find food. For only a few dollars you can feed an enormous number of birds. You don’t have to be a bird watcher to enjoy the feeling you get when you’ve helped out one of God’s creatures.