November Garden Tasks

November 2, 2010

Please note:  What I write in this space are lessons learned through trial and error, research, and from other gardeners and professionals. I garden in zone 9, but share garden experiences that I believe are relevant to most zones within a reasonable time frame and planting conditions.

MaintenanceAs you begin to spend more time indoors, plan a few tool cleaning and repair sessions. First remove soil from your garden tools with a nylon or metal brush. Sharpen, wipe clean, and oil metal with spray or machine shop oil. If wooden handles are getting rough, lightly sand, oil or repaint to protect the wood.

Repair the end of water hoses. Replace broken sprinklers. Soak clogged shower-hose heads in warm water and vinegar. Bring timers indoors and remove the batteries. If battery acid leeks, it can damage the timer.

Protect faucets, pipes, and sprinkler valves from frost by wrapping them with old bath towels or rags.

In the vegetable garden:  Seed fava beans, carrots, Swiss chard, lettuce, mustard, onions, peas, radishes, shallots, spinach, turnips. Transplant Bok choy/Pak choc, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, kale. Plant garlic cloves, horseradish roots, rhubarb roots.

If you’re not a winter vegetable gardener, you can amend the soil for spring planting before the ground turns soggy or frozen. Work in organic matter like shredded leaves, compost, and peat moss or plant cover crops such as fava beans and vetch. Cover crops add nitrogen to the soil and slow down the leaching of nutrients caused by rains.

In the landscapeCover frost-sensitive plants with frost cloth and move potted plants to a sheltered area. Frost cloth can stay on during daylight as it lets the sun in.

After pruning fruit trees and the leaves have fallen, apply dormant spray. Clean up the debris to prevent insects from gathering underneath.

Replace weak or damaged stakes so young trees and shrubs can stand against strong winds.

Mulch beds after the first frost, keeping mulch 3-6 inches away from trunks.

Plant cool-season color spots such as pansies, annual stock, primroses, snapdragons, Iceland poppies, calendulas, African daisies, chrysanthemums. Sow wildflower seeds now for a spring show. There’s still time to plant spring-blooming bulbs like tulips, daffodils, hyacinth, narcissus.

Although this is the time of year to cut back on watering, don’t let the soil dry out. Moisture provides warmth which helps to fight off frost damage. Potted plants don’t necessarily catch raindrops so keep an eye on the soil and water as needed.

Copyright © 2010 Dianne Marie Andre



  1. What delightful ideas for ‘winter down-time’. I don’t think I’ve ever cleaned my gardening tools and I do know the wooden handles on some of the tools are extremely weather worn as they are ancient. Good ideas for all gardeners.

    Also regarding the getting ready for winter and covering plants with frost cloth. Is frost cloth like the green fabric screen sold in rolls at Lowe’s? We call it screen, and made our shade screens to cover the palms/plants last year.

    We’ve asked the cactus/succulent club how to ‘tend to the inground plants’ during the winter and have gotten conflicting answers.

    Some said to cover with plastic, others said to use the green screen cloth, and yet others said to just use a bed sheet and then cover with plastic if desired.

    I’m really scared about my new cactus/succulents during the winter and will be biting my nails when the temperatures dip into the 30’s.

    Last year we wrapped the 12 foot tree ferns in the front of the house (eastern exposure) with the green fabric screen then covered the area with plastic. The plants did well to below freezing temperatures, only a little freeze burn.

    Comments on the cactus/succulent ‘how to save my plants’ would be appreciated. Thanks. Bernadine


    • Check out this site to see if it answers your questions about frost.


      If not, I recommend calling or emailing Rising Sun Nursery in Valley Springs: phone 209-772-3451 | email: risingsun@caltel.com. You can also contact the San Joaquin County Master Gardeners at 209-953-6112.

      Although, I have never grown cactus/succulents, I would use frost cloth because it lets in the light and air. Plants need both. These lightweight cloths are easy to work with and they fold up very small for storage. It’s also washable. You can buy it by the yard or in a package. I have some with a drawstring which I like the best. Mulching also helps.


  2. Thanks, for the ‘covering tip’. My tendency is the green fabric screen, probably similar to the frost cloth. I’ll let you know when the temps get down to near freezing and I’m fordced into making a decision.
    Thanks for the other contact information. bernadine


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