Tim Lewis – November Garden Tasks, part 1

Published 9:37 am Thursday, October 26, 2023

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October-one of the finest months of the year-is now behind us. With such
pleasant mornings and evenings, gorgeous sunsets, and sparkling displays of
color gracing our landscapes and forests, how could it get any better? Yes,
October is gone, but November can be nice too, and there are a number of
things we can find to do in the yard and garden. Read on for some annual
As I mentioned in a recent article, in most of the South, November, if not too
warm, can be a good time to begin planting woody ornamentals. Actually,
anytime during a plants’ inactive (dormant) season between November and
February is good. Fall temperatures are more conducive to active root growth
and plant survival because of lower temperatures and normally adequate
Mulch shrubs now for winter protection. Suitable mulch materials are hay,
grass clippings, pine bark or hardwood material, pine straw, and leaves. Place
a generous amount around each plant to help protect roots against winter
cold. But beware-too much mulch can encourage root and stem rots. Two to
four inches is all that is necessary. More than about four inches is potentially
Also, be sure plants go into the winter season with adequate moisture.
Remember the general rule-water only when the soil feels dry to the touch a
couple of inches down. Infrequent but deep watering is always better than
frequent, shallow watering.
Continue to plant cool season annuals such as pansies, violas, flowering
cabbage and kale, snapdragons, dianthus, Swiss chard, parsley, and red giant
mustard. Large container plantings of these can be especially nice and trouble
free. If possible, continue to remove faded flowers from pansies and violas
throughout the season so that new flowers will form.
November is the time to plant bulbs such as daffodils, tulips, crocus, hyacinth,
etc. for early spring color. Be sure to purchase varieties that are suited for our
middle Georgia climate. As you search for these bulbs, be sure to look for
varieties that are specifically described as “hardy in the South.” Otherwise,
you will most likely be disappointed.
It is best to wait until the night temperatures are consistently below 60
degrees before planting these bulbs. At that time the soil is still warm enough
to encourage root growth. Remember-the later you wait after October to plant
the less time the bulbs will have to establish themselves.
Cover your bulbs with a couple of inches of soil. Feed the soil at planting time
with two cups of 10-10-10 over 10 square feet of bed. Do the same thing next
March when the foliage appears. This will take the bulbs through the flowering
Remember to refrain from pruning shrubs now because the subsequent new
growth will be killed by the ensuing frosts. Shaping evergreen shrubs with
light pruning is acceptable at this time, however.

Don’t forget that those leaves you and your neighbors collect by raking and
bagging can be put to good use in the garden. How? By adding them to the
compost pile or simply spreading them over the garden and tilling them in to
Now that the main gardening season is all but over, take time to jot down
some cultural notes from the summer. Notes such as how your various
tomato varieties performed, how well your weed, insect, and disease control
measures worked, how your rows were spaced, the timing of the individual
crops and their subsequent harvests, etc. can greatly benefit you next spring
as you make your gardening plans. And if you’re like me you won’t remember
unless you write it down!
Best of success with your November garden tasks! More on this later.
Tim Lewis is a Georgia Green Industry Association Certified Plant Professional, gardening
writer, and former Perry High School horticulture instructor. He and his wife, Susan, own
and operate Lewis Farms Nursery located on Georgia Hwy 26 two miles east of Elko,
where he was born and raised. He can be reached at (478)954-1507 and
timlewis1@windstream.net .