The hymn of the same name symbolically means harvesting or bringing in the souls who were sown earlier. Literally it is bringing in bundles of stalks of cereal grains. Anyone who has been to Amish country in the early summer has seen the sheaves of grain stacked in the fields. In the fall you will see their shocks of corn, shock being a derivative of sheave.
November is the time of reaping for gardeners. Not just the last of the harvest but of stuff. Better bring in all those fragile pots, garden ornaments, stakes, cages and other gardening paraphernalia. Patio furniture, umbrellas and outdoor carpets all should be brought in. Is there anything sadder than seeing a Fisher Price menagerie of kids’ toys covered in the snow? Tools, houseplants, dried flowers, leaves for pressing, herbs for drying or steeping in vinegar, all these better be brought in whether you are rejoicing or not.
A popular home show commercial tells us, “Some people know the difference between doing something and doing it right.” I always like to add, “And, not doing it at all.” (Yes, we talk to the TV in our house. Or, I should say, I do.) So what happens if we leave the sheaves, so to speak, lying out in the field? Sometimes nothing happens. That trowel will still be there sticking in the ground next spring.
But some things (sheaves) will die or disappear if you don’t bring them in. Some tender bulbs such as Calla Lilies and plants like Rosemary, Coleus and Geraniums will surely die if left out to freeze. They can be saved by taking cuttings from them, bringing them in, rooting them and then potting them up to keep growing until time to set them out next spring. These plants can be expensive and the scarce cultivars are sometimes sold out. “By and by the harvest, and the labor ended.” Rejoice!
Any number of YouTube videos describes the process of taking the cuttings, using a rooting hormone, rooting them and potting them up. Search for sites that end in edu from Extension and Ag schools or universities. That way you know you are getting science based information and not someone who is trying it for the first time and likes to hear themselves talk.
Things to do in the Garden:
Now is a good time to do soil tests. You have time (3 to 6 months) to amend your soil if required. You will avoid the spring rush when more people are sending their samples to the lab. To obtain soil sampling instructions and kits along with specific recommendations contact the local Cooperative Extension Office 740-474-7534. The Helpline is also available at the same number.
It’s not too late to plant spring flowering bulbs. Spring bulbs look best in a cluster. Try excavating an area rather than planting them one by one in single holes. Lift tender bulbs (caladiums, dahlias, glads etc.) and store for the winter. Sow seeds of hardy annuals (calendula, bachelor’s buttons). Mums can be “tidied up” but don’t trim back until spring.
Tender roses should be “hilled up,” mound the soil a foot deep around the base to protect the crowns. Also a wire cage filled with leaves surrounding them as protection can be added. Final pruning should be done in the spring, but long spindly canes can be trimmed off now. Climbing roses or ramblers should be tied to prevent injury from being whipped around by harsh winter winds. Do not feed. Clean up all dead and diseased rose leaves and put in the trash.
A fall fertilization of your lawn can be done now. Do not allow leaves to form a matted layer on the lawn. Rake and compost heavy layers of leaves. Running the mower over the rows of leaves at right angles a couple times will reduce them to half inch pieces which earth worms will pull into the soil. The latest recommendation is to continue to cut your lawn at 2.5-3 inches as long as it continues to grow. Run the gas out of your lawn and garden machinery or add gas stabilizer.
November is a good month to plant trees. For two short informative videos, go to; http://bit.ly/PlantATreeCbus. When your trees go dormant you can view; http://bit.ly/PruneATreeCbus and see how to prune them properly.
Make sure leaves and mulch are not heaped against the trunks of trees. Bring the mulch a foot away from the trunks of all trees. You may also want to stake newly planted trees from the winds of winter and early spring storms. Generally new trees more than 2” diameter don’t need staking. Consult ohioline.osu.edu for staking and other gardening information. Evergreens and shrubs should be watered deeply. Apply an anti-desiccant to broadleaf evergreens. Wait until dormant to do any normal pruning. Do not prune spring flowering shrubs (lilac, forsythia, spirea etc.) if you want them to bloom this spring.
Take stock by taking notes and map your garden while you can still remember where the plants were. This is particularly important for the vegetable garden. Clean your gardening tools and put them away. A coat of oil can prevent rust. A light coating of linseed oil on wooden handles prevents splitting due to weathering and drying. Drain garden hoses and store. At the very least disconnect from the outdoor spigots. Make sure underground irrigation lines are drained or blown dry with a compressor.
Remove the dead plants from containers and, if not diseased, compost. Unglazed terra-cotta pots must be stored indoors or they will be destroyed. The same goes for fragile garden ornaments. Synthetic containers can be left outdoors. Stop or reduce fertilizing indoor plants. Weed the vegetable garden and compost non-diseased debris. Place diseased materials in the trash. Remove stakes and cages, clean and store. Plant a cover crop.
Consider leaving the stems and seed heads of perennials. Nature is not compelled to neatness. She leaves cover for pollinators and butterflies to overwinter themselves or their pupae and eggs. You can clean up in the spring. Cut off dead annuals and, if not diseased, compost them. Now your beds are tucked in and settled down for a long winter’s nap.