By Gary Crispell, EMGV
November?!? Wait, wasn’t it April last week? Did summer and early fall happen while I wasn’t looking? Wow! I need to be more in the moment or season, as the case may be. I guess it was fun.
The Accidental Cottage Garden really appears exactly that, accidental, this time of year. The driveway garden which never was much this year has a plethora of hardy ageratum (Conoclinium coelestinum) and a few marigolds (Tagetes sps.) and little else. The number of rosettes, however, seems promising for next year.
The Kitchen garden is bereft of new blooms. One bedraggled sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Sedum spectabile ‘Autumn Joy’) and a lone gallardia (G. pulcherella) are all that remain. The far side (not the Gary Larson variety) garden is still quite resplendent. The combination of gigantic African marigolds (Tagetes erecta), cosmos (C. bipinnata), and tall zinnias (Z. elegans) make a colorful display.
November is the second movement of the end of the year symphony. The allegro of September and October has given way to the slower pace of November to be followed by the waltz around Thanksgiving and the allegro con brio of the holidays. Let us dance into the deconstruction of the second movement.
LAWN CARE: Can you spell L.E.A.F R.E.M.O.V.A.L? It is important no matter what variety of lawn grass you are nurturing. Rake them, blow them, or suck them up with the lawnmower. The manner in which the leaves are removed isn’t nearly as important as the actual removal.
Warm season grasses (Bermuda, zoysia, centipede) will be going dormant soon which will allow those of us growing them to put our mowers and weed whackers away. Sucks for you cool season grass nurturers.
Cool season grasses (tall fescue, bluegrass, perennial rye) will continue to grow through December after which they, too, will slow down until spring. Keep them mowed at 3” to 4”. Mulch the leaves and clippings or bag’ em and compost ‘em. Please do not send them to the landfill.
If there has been some overseeding activity in your yard be sure to keep everything well-watered. It takes about 1” of water per week to keep adequate moisture around for the new stuff to grow and thrive. The water is best applied in two or more applications.
FERTILIZING: Nah. Maybe some lime if you have recommendations from the NCDOA FREE (until Thanksgiving) SOIL TEST. It is recommended that the lime be incorporated as it doesn’t move through the soil very well. Aeration is a good technique for accomplishing that.
PLANTING: ICYMI in the September and October calendars, “FALL IS FOR PLANTING.” There is still time to plant/transplant trees and shrubs and hardy ground covers.
Spring-flowering bulbs can be planted. Follow the directions on the package. Planting depth and bulb, corm, tuber orientation are important.
One year old asparagus crowns can be transplanted now.
PRUNING: So, your perennial garden (everybody’s perennial garden) looks dreadfully deplorable. Shor’ nuff. Time to whack it all back. Last year I introduced Y’all to Jack Frost, Harriet Hardfreeze, and Minerva Moisturestress. Well, that dynamic dastardly destructive trio is lurking around together again this year (Is there a pattern here?) waiting to jump all over anything not hardy. Be aware. When they get through with what is left of your perennial and summer vegetable gardens there will be no choice but to whack ‘em. Unless, of course, you want to suffer at the hands (voice) of the neighborhood HOA neat freak with control issues.
Dead and diseased wood can be pruned from trees and shrubs.
SPRAYING: Still got active lace bugs on your azaleas or pyracantha? An application of a good horticultural oil should control adults and their eggs. Remember, the bugs and eggs are on the underside of the leaves.
That’s it. Now clean the sprayer and put it away. We will tell you when to get it out again.
OTHER FANTASTICALLY FUN FALL FROLICS FOR FUNLOVING FOLKS: Take a hike in a park. The Eno River is exceptionally gorgeous this time of the year. There are many hued leaves everywhere. Leaves laughing in the trees. Leaves layered lavishly on the ground, and leaves floating in the languid liquid of the river. Go see them. They are waiting, though not patiently, for you.
Have a neighborhood gathering around the firepit. Hotdogs and s’mores are borderline optional, while hot chocolate, cider, and donuts are mandatory.
The pleasant-to-be-outdoors days are numbered for this year. Enjoy them while you can.
May you have a superlative Thanksgiving with folks who love you (and you them, of course).
Resources and Additional Information
If you’ve finished cutting back your vegetables and perennials and you’re itching to prune more, check this pruning calendar for guidance: https://polk.ces.ncsu.edu/pruningcalendar/
Test your soil before peak season fees begin. Here’s how: https://durham.ces.ncsu.edu/2020/05/nows-the-perfect-time-to-test-your-soil/
From the blog: Here is a 2013 article about horticultural oils: https://durhammastergardeners.com/2013/09/24/horticultural-oils/