November Gardening Tasks
Vegetables - Plant a cover crop this winter for your idle vegetable plot. Good winter cover crops for Georgia garden plots include things like annual ryegrass, any of the cole crops like mustard or turnips, vetch, clover, and winter wheat. Plow under in the spring for organic matter and extra nitrogen.
Rogue out dead weeds and plant debris from the garden and near the garden to eliminate over-wintering areas for pests and diseases.
This is an ideal time to work in lime for the garden, if it’s needed, based on a soil test! If pH adjustment is needed, use dolomitic limestone if both calcium and magnesium are needed or calcitic if only calcium is needed. If you need phosphorus, winter is a good time to work needed P2O5 into the soil. You may pick up soil test bags at the Hall County Extension Office.
If you use wood ashes, don’t apply more than 1.5-2 lbs/100 sf of garden. Don’t use ash at all if the garden pH is >6.3-6.5!
If the weather is still relatively frost-free, continue planting cool season crops such as beet, kale, and lettuce. You can still get some garlic in the garden as well. Harvest fall-planted potatoes for “Christmas potatoes”.
Winter is a great time for the vegetable garden. The cooler weather means less insect issues, but sometimes more disease issues because of all the wet leaves, so be watchful. But, cool weather makes carrots sweeter and cole crops like collards and mustard less bitter!
Extend you growing season! Protect seedlings and maturing and mature vegetables from really cold weather (20-25 F or lower) using garden cloches, floating row covers, polyethylene-covered hoop houses and such.
Remember that many diseases will over-winter on old infected dead leaves and stems. Now is the time to finish cleaning and tilling your garden.
Start planning what you’re going to plant in the coming spring and summer. So start thinking about next year’s garden now. This is a good time to look through the seed catalogs and make some early seed orders!
Fruit trees - Continue, if you need, to inspect your fruit trees. Be sure to remove any mummified remaining fruits, and rake up and dispose of old leaves and branches that may harbor diseases over the winter.
Protect ornamental and fruit trees and young plants from rabbit damage by wrapping or enclosing in wire screen.
Lawns - Rake fallen leaves from the lawn to prevent winter suffocation of turf. Start a compost pile with fall leaves. Rake leaves and place in the compost pile. Turn established compost piles to hasten breakdown.
Spot treat and control cool season weeds such as dandelions, henbit, and chickweed before spring green up. Spot-treat for wild garlic and if you can, dig them up! You can also pull up the occasional winter weed by hand.
Early to mid-November is time for an application of fertilizer for tall fescue and other cool-season grass lawns. Follow the recommendations on your soil test report for your lawn. Use a nitrate-based fertilizer like calcium nitrate in the cool season as it’s taken up more efficiently in cool soils, than ammonium or urea-type nitrogen fertilizers.
DON'T fertilize warm-season grass lawns like Bermuda, zoysia or centipede late in the fall!
And, it's time to begin thinking about winterizing your watering system if you have one.
Trees and Shrubs - Water newly planted trees and shrubs if needed. Continue to plant new trees and shrubs. Leaves are continuing to fall so if you have space and a little time to compost, this is a great use of autumn leaves. If not, you can also till them into any fallow beds you have or the vegetable garden. If you have an established compost pile, make sure you turn from time to time to hasten decomposition!
Now that temperatures are lower, use dormant oil sprays to control scale insects on trees and shrubs. Prune dead or hazardous limbs, but wait to prune spring flowering trees and shrubs until after they bloom. As you prune your woody plants during the cooler months, make a small brush pile in the back of the yard for birds to hide in – they’ll appreciate the effort.
Add some of the new camellia cultivars for bright spots of color in winter. Disbudding, or removing some buds now, will insure larger blooms later. Hellebores can be put in shaded or semi-shaded beds for good winter color as well.
Flower Beds - The soils are cooling now so it’s time to plant those spring-flowering bulbs you purchased in September or October, such as daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, and crocus. It’s not too early to start thinking about what you might like to plant for warm-season bulbs.
Soil Test - Now is the time to test the soil in your planned beds for plant nutrients. UGA soil tests usually take 7-10 working days, so test now to have the results when you plant bulbs and beds. It is important to till in the lime needed (if any) for faster soil pH adjustment. You may also sample your vegetable garden or lawn.
Houseplants - Succulent plants such as most cacti, jade plants and what have you, are going into their winter rest phase, so they don’t need fertilizer at all and require only infrequent watering. Overwatering in winter can cause roots to decay. If you fertilize broadleaf houseplants, use only light fertilization and only if the plant is growing in medium to bright light. Water most broadleaf plants (big ferns, palms, philodendrons, pothos, peace lily, etc.) only every several weeks unless in small pots. (If a fern or other broadleaf plant is in a 6” or smaller pot, it may need for frequent watering). Since African violets under light actively grow even in winter, water as you normally would.
Miscellaneous - Clean and oil garden tools, sprayers, and other equipment. Store them for winter. Drain garden hoses and sprinklers and if possible, store indoors for increased life. If you decide to leave them outside, unscrew them from the faucets and winter-proof faucet heads (foam covers or bubble wrap). If fuel is to remain in power equipment, add winter fuel stabilizer. Otherwise, drain gas from power equipment for winter storage. Make any needed repairs this winter.