November: To Do in the Garden

by Gary Crispell, EMGV

Well, what do you know?!  It’s November…already.  Transition month in the piedmont of NC—Fall to Winter although winter of late has been more like an extended November.  Way better than an extended January.  There’s not a lot left to do gardening wise.  Mostly just putting things to bed (pun intended).  The Accidental Cottage Garden looks like what one would expect a perennial garden to look like in November…not good.  The hardy ageratum (Eupitorium coelstinum) is pleased with the recent rains having been not so much pleased with the preceding long dry period.  The chrysanthemum (C. noclueuia) is about 50/50 yellow and brown.  Other than the uberprolific Knock Out rose, there are a few gallardia (Gallardia pulchella) still in bloom and a clump of Chinese chives (Allium tuberosum) which the bees just love.  The bed beside the driveway has been tilled in preparation for a complete makeover.  Next year should be interesting.  Stay tuned.

Now let’s go outside and play in the dirt before it gets too cold.


Keep all lawns mostly leaf free, taking advantage of the leaves by moving them to garden beds.  Cool season grasses (fescue, bluegrass, perennial rye) are still growing.  Keep them mowed between 3” and 4”.  Continue the war on fire ants (Solenopsis invicta Buren—red, S. richteri Forle—black).  They can be treated with boric acid powder or diatomaceous earth if you have an aversion to lethal chemicals.


November is a slow time for you frequent fertilizers.  However, you can check the results of your as yet (through November) FREE soil test and add lime to your soil per the recommendation.  A good way to incorporate the lime is to core aerate the soil prior to applying the lime.  This will get the lime down into the root zone where it will be of the most benefit.

If you have a wood burning fireplace you can dispose of the cool ashes around trees and shrubs.  Be sure to avoid ericaceous (acid loving) plants (azaleas, camellias, gardenias).


For those of you who might have missed it earlier, FALL IS FOR PLANTING!  Especially now that there is moisture in the soil it is time to run out and transplant the things that need a different living arrangement and/or add new things to the garden.  Be adventurous and plant a native species or six.  They are low maintenance, relatively pest free and usually deer and bunny resistant.  Ain’t nothin’ deer proof if the deer are hungry enough.

Plant one-year-old asparagus crowns this month.

Sow a cover crop in the currently unused parts of the veggie garden.  Annual rye, wheat, barley and alfalfa are good choices.  They will mitigate erosion, keep weeds to a minimum and add organic matter when tilled into the soil in the Spring.  Win, win, win!


Nope, nada, nichts, rien.  The equipment should already be cleaned and put away.


Well, there you have it.  May each of you have a wonder filled, nearly normal Thanksgiving.  Be sure to prepare enough to share with someone who otherwise might not have any.  Remember, COVID is still out there, so be safe and let us not be foolish.


Looking for a way to help your soil and local critters while cutting down work? Leave the leaves this year! As leaves break down they provide carbon and nutrients back to the soil, and leaf litter is critical habitat for any number of invertebrates and other small friends. Learn more, and take the pledge at As a bonus, by taking the pledge you can get a free yarn sign to help spread the word!