What can you do in your garden during the month of November?

In the Northern Hemisphere, November marks the peak of the autumn season. Trees change color, shedding their leaves, and creating picturesque landscape. In Washington State, we start to see a serious drop in temperature, which can cause issues in your garden. 

With that in mind, there are steps you can take to plan for your garden for next year, and that is what we will focus on today!

One thing I like to do in the winter is take note of any dead space. This can inspire me to do some research on some perennials that show off in the winter- such as snowberries, crabapple trees, and hellebores. This kind of thought process will help with year round visual interest, as well as protection for the little creatures in your garden. 

See below for some other ideas to keep your garden top of mind during the off season:

  1. Harvest Remaining Crops: Before the frost sets in, harvest any remaining vegetables and fruits from your garden. This includes tomatoes, peppers, squash, and any other warm-season crops. In the PNW, these may have been spent in the month of october. If you have a greenhouse, or a cold frame, you may have been able to extend a little into November.

  2. Overwintering Vegetables: Some vegetables can survive the winter with proper protection. Consider planting these for a winter harvest or early spring yield. Common overwintering veggies include kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, and winter lettuce varieties.

  3. Mulching: Apply a thick layer of mulch around the base of perennial plants and overwintering crops. Mulch helps to insulate the soil, protecting roots from freezing temperatures.

  4. Clean Up Garden Beds: Remove dead plant debris, fallen leaves, and weeds from the garden beds. This will reduce the risk of pests and diseases overwintering in the soil. I do recycle my leaves, and use them to cover bed, or any exposed ground- like a compost pile!

  5. Soil Testing: Conduct a soil test to assess nutrient levels and pH. Amend the soil as needed based on the test results. Adding compost or organic matter can improve soil health during winter.

  6. Plant Cover Crops: Sow cover crops like winter rye, clover, or hairy vetch to enrich the soil and prevent erosion. These crops will also protect the soil from winter weather.

  7. Protect Perennials: Tender perennial plants may need extra protection from freezing temperatures. Use burlap or frost blankets to cover them during cold nights.

  8. Watering: As the temperature drops, reduce the frequency of watering. Plants generally require less water during the dormant winter period.

  9. Garden Tool Maintenance: Clean and sharpen your garden tools before storing them for the winter. Proper maintenance ensures they'll be in good shape for the next gardening season.

  10. Prepare Cold Frames: If you have a cold frame or greenhouse, clean and sanitize it before use. These structures can provide a warm environment for growing winter vegetables.

  11. Bird Feeder Installation: Set up bird feeders in your garden to attract feathered friends. They can help control pests and add a lively touch to your winter garden.

  12. Plan for Spring: Use this time to plan your spring garden. Decide which crops you want to grow, order seeds, and consider rotating plant locations for better soil health.

  13. Compost Pile Management: Continue to add kitchen scraps and garden waste to your compost pile. Turn the compost to facilitate decomposition, and cover it to retain heat during colder months.

Remember, the tasks on this checklist may vary depending on your specific gardening zone and climate. It's essential to adapt the activities to suit your local weather conditions. Happy gardening!