What can I say about November that I haven’t already said? Not much. Here is what I have said in past columns. November is named from the Latin “novem,” or nine.
It was the ninth month under the old Romulus calendar. November is a transitional month, not the fall of September and October and not the winter of December, January and February. We know November‘s steel-gray blustery days are punctuated by rare sunny blue-sky days.
Veterans Day and the Thanksgiving holiday will be welcome interruptions to the relentless November march toward winter. Election Day, on the other hand, is no joke, unless we vote for a joker.
November is one of the “ber” months and the beginning of the “ brrr” months. The growing season is over. We can end our gardening, if we want. We know that there aren’t many days left to finish our chores before the weather drives us indoors. Harvest has left the fields appear larger and more open with more stubble than a three-day beard.
Grain trucks rumble by and line up at the mills like people at the BMV. Daylight savings time ends and our daylight account is overdrawn. The solstice is coming (Dec. 21) and with it the hope that our sunlight account will once again start receiving deposits. Our trees are becoming naked and starkly beautiful.
November is a windy month. We watch with hidden glee as our leaves blow downwind to our neighbor’s yard only to be brought back abruptly to reality when we see our upwind neighbors’ leaves blow into ours. The holidays will arrive before we know it.
We know our sense of warm anticipation will be tempered by the anxiety of all the preparations. Black Friday arrives, try to avoid the stampede. November usually brings a hard freeze and the first snow. The average first snowfall is Nov. 21. We know a warm fire can compensate for just about anything. I know this; there is no month quite like November.
Have you ever thought of becoming a Master Gardener Volunteer? Dec. 1, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., there will be an open house at the OSU County Extension meeting room. It is located on the second floor of the county building, 110 Island Road.
Park in the back lot, off High Street, and use the back door. Volunteers will be there to explain the program and the training classes that will begin in the new year. Questions? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 740-497-4384.
Things to do in the garden:
Now is a good time to do soil tests. You have time (three to six months) to amend your soil if required. You will avoid the spring rush. To obtain soil sampling instructions and kits, along with specific recommendations, contact the local OSU 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 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 fertilize. 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 for storage.
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 few inches to 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-inch 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 terracotta 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.
This article was written by Paul J. Hang to be published in The Circleville Herald. Hang is an OSU Extension Master Gardener. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.