November: To Do in the Garden

by Gary Crispell, EMGV

Rain glorious rain and it isn’t cold yet, at least not as I write this. What more could one ask for? Now that there’s some moisture in the ground it can really be planting season. I have a large number (more than 70) mostly perennial plants to stick in the ground, but I haven’t been able to get a shovel into it. Now it is “just do it” time. Perhaps I shall first make a chiropractor’s appointment for next week. So, that’s my plan. What are you doing with the rest of your fall?


If you have a warm season grass lawn all you need to do is keep it relatively free of leaves. If, on the other hand, you have a cool season grass lawn, you are still cutting it 3.5  to 4 inches tall AND keeping it relatively leaf free. Continue the battle with fire ants.


Not much going on here. If your lawn’s soil pH is low, less than 6 (I’m sure you were astute enough to get the soil tested before NCDOA starts charging for the service later this month), apply the recommended amount of lime. A good way to incorporate it into the soil is to core aerate the lawn before the application.

Wood ashes from your fireplace can be spread on your gardens and shrub beds. Be careful to avoid acid-loving plants such as azaleas, camellias, gardenias, etc.


  • Let me repeat, “Fall is for planting!” There is still lots of time to add/transplant plants in your landscape (per your PLAN, naturally).
  • Plant one-year-old asparagus crowns now.
  • Sow a cover crop over the veggie garden if it is done for the year. A planting of annual rye, wheat or barley will help prevent erosion and keep weeds to a minimum. Besides you can just till it into the soil in the spring as a bonus.


  • After Jack Frost has claimed the last of your herbaceous perennials, including existing asparagus, they can be cut back to the over-wintering rosettes or the ground.
  • Dead and/or diseased wood can be pruned out at any time.
  • Weeds and undesirable trees can now be removed without the aid of three bottles of water per hour, head sweat band and insect repellent.


Surely by now you have cleaned up and put away the spray equipment. If not, just do it.

Other stuff to do that will keep you outside

  • As mentioned earlier, add lime where recommended. No fertilizer until spring.
  • Walk around the yard on mild days; It may be awhile before we see any more of them.
  • Okay. You can go inside now and order those fruit trees and vines you’ve been talking about. They will be delivered in time for planting in February or March. (Did you know hardy kiwi will grow well in a sunny place and produce a prodigious amount of fruit?)
  • While you are in there look at your landscape and/or gardening plan and make adjustments based on this year’s experiences.
  • Oh, yeah.  Don’t forget to stuff that bird, mash them taters, and bake that punkin pie.

May your Thanksgiving be
bountiful enough to share with those
whose Thanksgiving will not be.