November Gardening Calendar

Gardening Calendar for the Triangle


Put the garden to bed for the winter. A fall cleanup will prevent many of next year’s insect and disease problems, and give you a head start on planting next spring! Pull out all annuals that have completed their life cycle, and cut back perennials. Remove debris from under plants and shrubs. If any disease was present, do not compost that debris. Till the vegetable garden to expose harmful insect larvae and disease organisms to cold and predators. Take soil samples — soil tests are free from April through November and the lab is not busy this time of year — and incorporate organic matter and lime if needed. You’ll be ready to plant next spring while your neighbors are waiting for the soil to dry out enough for tilling.


Agronomic Services – Soil Testing North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services

Submitting samples for soil testing prepared by the Durham County Master Gardener Volunteer Program

Understanding the soil test report prepared by the Durham County Master Gardener Volunteer Program

Durham’s soil prepared by the Durham County Master Gardener Volunteer Program

Amending clay soils prepared by the Durham County Master Gardener Volunteer Program

Lawn Care

Fertilize fescue lawns for winter. The November fertilization (near Thanksgiving) is the most important one of the year for cool-season grasses. The soil is still warm enough to permit the growth of strong roots that will enable the grass to withstand next summer’s baking heat. Use a slow-release fertilizer formulated for turf, and apply according to soil test results. If you haven’t limed in the past three years, you probably need to do that also. Submit a soil sample to find out how much lime to apply. Soil test materials are available at your Cooperative Extension Center (see information above).


Carolina lawns: a guide to maintaining quality turf in the landscape published by North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service

Lawn maintenance calendar: tall fescue published by North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service

Trees, shrubs & ornamentals

Fall is for planting! November through early February is an ideal time to plant trees, shrubs, and perennials. The cool weather permits establishment of a root system before next year’s hot weather. It is also an ideal time to move shrubs from one place to another.

Plant a tree! Successful tree-planting begins with a wide planting hole. Trees will have a large root span at maturity, so it’s better not to amend the soil in the planting area. Simply loosen the soil (by forking or tilling) in an area several times the diameter of the rootball, to relieve soil compaction. Spread the roots of the tree when planting. Mulch the area after planting, but keep mulch away from the trunk to discourage chewing rodents and rot. Staking may be necessary at first, but tie the tree loosely enough that it can move a little in the wind. Remove the ties after a few months.

Mulch shrubs, trees, perennials, and herbs after the first killing frost for winter protection. Apply a layer 2-3” deep. This is an excellent time to mulch, since most perennials are dormant and it’s easy to get a wheelbarrow into the garden.

Plant spring-flowering bulbs as the weather turns cold. For best landscape effect, plant groups of bulbs in between shrubs, or scatter bulbs in wooded areas; avoid planting bulbs in straight lines. When you dig your holds, incorporate a bulb fertilizer or one rounded tablespoon of 10-10-10 fertilizer per square foot, mixed into the soil at the bottom of the hold. Always plant quality bulbs. Larger bulbs produce larger flowers. Pansy plants set among the bulbs will produce a fine effect, and won’t harm the bulbs a bit.


Successful planting of trees and shrubs prepared by the Durham County Master Gardener Volunteer Program

Planting techniques for trees and shrubs by North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service

Hints for fall-planted spring and early summer flowering bulbs published by North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service

Landscape idea

Landscape with a plan. A well-thought-out landscape plan will produce a more “finished” effect than randomly-scattered plantings. Analyze your property and draw a simple map, noting which areas are sunny or shady, moist or dry. Think about where you need tall evergreens for screening, and where you need shorter plants to maintain a view.

Select plants that meet your requirements. Your Cooperative Extension Center can provide many publications describing plants that are well-adapted for Durham County’s challenging weather and soil. Extension Master Gardener volunteers and nursery professionals are also excellent resources. There are also many outstanding gardening books in the library and bookstores.

Allow space for plants to grow to their mature size. A common mistake is placing a large or fast-growing plant where there is not enough room for full height and spread. The error results in continuous pruning in an attempt to keep the plant within a size that nature never intended it to be. Builders and beginning landscapers often place shrubs too close together, because the plants look so small when they come from the nursery. Find out how large your plants can be expected to grow, and place them where they can fulfill their potential.


Growing annual and perennial flowers in Durham County prepared by the Durham County Master Gardener Volunteer Program

Residential landscaping published by North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service

Retyped with slight modifications and URL’s checked, September 2014 ~ N. Len

What to do in June

Lawn Care
•    Fertilize warm-season grasses like Bermuda, Zoysia, and St. Augustine if you haven’t already done so. (Cool season grasses such as fescue should NOT be fertilized at this time.)
•    A 1/3rd of the growth should be removed when mowing warm season grasses.
•    Core aerate your warm season yard two days after a good rain or irrigation.
•    Zoysia lawns can be started this month

•    Fertilize or sidedress vegetables as needed.
•    June is the only month to fertilize centipede grass.  A ½ pound of 15-0-14 per 1,000 sq.ft is recommended however; the fertilizing needs can be better determined with a soil test.
•    Dogwoods can be fertilized at this time.  Be sure to follow the soil analysis so that you don’t over-fertilize.

•    Vegetable to be planted in June: beans, lima beans, southern peas, peppers, sweet potato, pumpkins, and tomato.
•    Brussel sprouts and collards can be planted at this time for transplanting in mid-July.
•    Trees like dogwoods can be transplanted at this time.  Use proper planting techniques when doing a transplant.  Dogwoods for example, grow best in soils which contain lots of organic matter.

•    New growth on white pines can be pruned.
•    Outgrown hedges can be pruned.
•    Pinch off garden mums till mid-July.
•    Narrowleaf evergreens like junipers and arborvitaes can be pruned.
•    Bigleaf or florist hydrangea can be pruned when the flowers fade.
•    The dieback on hybrid rhododendrons, azaleas, and blueberries can be pruned out
•    Lastly, don’t forget to pinch your chrysanthemums to encourage branching.

•    Watch shrubs for the following insects: bag worms, leaf miners, aphids, spider mites, and lace bugs.  Bag worms already enclosed in their bags will need to be picked off by hand and destroyed.
•    Japanese beetles are also emerging and can be controlled.
•    Watch tomato leaves for dark spots which could be blight.  Spray with the appropriate fungicide if observed.
•    Use recommended herbicide to control poison ivy, kudzu, and honeysuckle if desired.
•    Spray the following vegetables if insects are observed: cucumber (cucumber beetle), squash (squash borers and aphids), tomato and eggplant (flea beetle), broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower (worms).
•    Continue pest control program for fruit trees and bunch grapes.  .
•    Continue with rose spraying program.

(Pesticides should be used sparingly!  Use only when needed and always follow the label)

Other Activities
•    Renovate strawberry beds after the final harvest.
•    Build a coldframe for rooting your shrub cuttings.
•    Water lawns in the early morning during dry periods.  Don’t forget watering lawns late in the evening encourages diseases.
•    Also, vegetables gardens should be watered about an inch a week.

Gifts for Gardeners

Gifts for Gardeners

By Michelle Wallace

I am writing this article to help those gardeners who have a hard time articulating their holiday wish list to their loved ones or to those of you who need gifts for family members who love gardening and have no idea what to get them. First however, I must explain the kind of people gardeners are. We are project oriented people. This means we like gifts that engage us in an activity. Through gardening we enrich our life experience by participating in the creation of spaces, flowers, fruit, or vegetables which we can enjoy and share with those close to us. So, while we may enjoy receiving gifts of clothes and trinkets, we love gifts that don’t always wrap well or fit under a tree unless that tree happens to be outside.

You may be wondering then what I have put on my holiday wish list. Well, how does ten yards of compost sound to you? I know, not very romantic. Thank goodness my husband understands that I would rather have compost to expand my vegetable garden than a sweater any day. However, a sweater might be nice if you can afford to have both. While you may not want compost here are a few fun ideas.

  1. Leather gardening gloves – they come in a wide variety of colors and sizes. Gardeners always need new pairs.
  2. A hand held stainless steel weed digger /hoe /cultivator – This is the most used gardening tool I have. If there is more than one gardener in the family each person will want their own.
  3. High quality hand held pruners – A good brand will last you forever. You may only need to sharpen or replace the blade once in a while. A cheap pair won’t even last a season. (Sorry, I can’t name brands.)
  4. Container gardening is hot right now and there is a tremendous selection of beautiful pots on the market. Just make sure there are drainage holes in the bottom.
  5. Seed catalogs are now out. A few catalogs with some gift money is a dream for most vegetable garden enthusiasts.
  6. Garden ornaments such as garden sculptures, bird feeders, wind chimes, and bird houses. A little well placed magic in the garden goes a long way.
  7. Plants such as Japanese Maples are always appreciated.
  8. Public Garden Memberships- They come with members benefits such as free lectures, plant giveaways, newsletters, and discounts.
  9. Garden consultation – One hour of advice from a horticulturist or garden designer can get your gardener off to a good start for the New Year.
  10. Time – Gardening is a lot of work. While it may not be your thing, a few hours of your time helping your loved one in garden is worth more than anything you can buy.

For those of you would like some great handouts to give your loved ones on an endless number of gardening topics go to or call the Durham County Master Gardener Volunteers @ 919-560-0528.

Squash bugs

Squash bugs have been spotted in gardens around Durham. This pest attacks all members of the cucurbit family (which includes squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, and melons). Scouting for and removing the eggs and insects is an environmentally friendly way of controlling the population and reducing the use of pesticides. Check your plants several times per week, looking at the undersides of leaves as well as the tops. Once you learn to recognize the pests, the job is fairly simple.

Squash bug eggs can be wiped or gently scraped from the leaf surfaces by hand. Destroy (squash) the eggs so they don’t hatch!

squash bug eggs

Squash bug nymphs: Just squash them. Wear gloves – they have a bad odor.

squash bug nymphs

Adults (yes, squash them too – with your gloves on)


Photos from Missouri Botanical Garden