November Garden Checklist
By Kelly Murray Young
What to Plant: Low and Middle Elevations
FALL COLOR FOR NEXT YEAR
If you crave a decidedly seasonal landscape, plant deciduous shrubs and trees now that will provide a colorful showing in future years. For a deep crimson hue, consider incorporating red oak (Quercus rubra) or Chinese pistache (Pistacia chinensis) into your garden. For a distinctively desert twist, try firesticks (Euphorbia tirucalli), a branching succulent that turns bright red, orange or even yellow in cold temperatures. The leaves of pomegranate (Punica granatum) and ash (Fraxinus spp.) trees become golden in fall, while persimmons offer autumnal orange fruits and leaves. Plant shrubs and trees in a hole no deeper than the rootball but at least twice as wide.
Plant onion seeds now for harvesting next summer. Select day-neutral varieties, meaning they don’t require the long nights that occur during winter at higher latitudes, to develop. ‘Candy’ is a sweet yellow onion; ‘Cabernet’ is a large, red variety; and ‘Sierra Blanca’ is a white onion with mild flavor. Each bulb will need about 6 inches of space to reach full size. Thin seedlings accordingly once they have 3 or 4 leaves.
What to Plant: Low Elevations
Dormant asparagus crowns, available at nursery centers, should be planted in trenches 6 inches deep, 12 inches wide and long enough to accommodate one crown every 18 inches. Cover with 3-4 inches of mulch to insulate soil.
Seed leafy greens, root vegetables and snap peas in soil that has been cleared of the previous season’s crops and amended with 3 inches of compost. Transplant head lettuce, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli, which can take 90-120 days to mature, into similarly prepared soil.
What to Plant: Middle Elevations
Scour local and online nurseries for Rocky Mountain juniper (Juniperus scopulorum), a large, drought-tolerant, pyramid-shaped shrub that can grow to 20-30 feet tall and 5-10 feet wide. Arizona white fir (Abies concolor) is native to the Southwest mountains and reaches a towering
130 feet in height. For smaller yards, ‘Emerald Green’ arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis) remains less than 15 feet tall and 4 feet wide and, as the name indicates, produces attractive, bright green foliage. Irrigate while transplanting and weekly for the first few months if there is no rainfall. Plant the trees in amended soil to encourage root growth out of the planting hole.
What to Plant: All Elevations
String of pearls (Senecio rowleyanus) is a delicate, cascading succulent that performs well in hanging baskets near a bright window. Grow painter’s palette (Anthurium andraeanum) in partial sun for bright red blooms. If you are new to cultivating houseplants, pothos (Epipremnum aureum) is almost impossible to kill, as long as it receives a modicum of sunlight daily and is watered once a month. Growing houseplants in winter will help keep your thumbs green until spring.
Garden Maintenance: Low Elevations
Radishes are usually ready to pick three weeks after planting. For optimal flavor and texture, pluck them when they are smaller than a pingpong ball. For such greens as kale, chard and romaine lettuce, the outer leaves can be gathered continuously throughout the season. Let the inner leaves remain so the plant can keep growing. Sugar snap peas can be harvested once the pods are about 2 inches long.
PREVENT COOL-SEASON WEEDS
Late November is the time to treat weeds with pre-emergence herbicides, which are chemicals applied to bare ground to prevent weeds later. Herbicides can be useful in gravel areas where you are not planning for spring wildflowers, because they will likely prevent all seedlings from becoming established. If you are planning to apply the herbicide yourself, look for a ready-to-use product that is easy to handle. If you have any doubts about your ability to follow the directions on the product label exactly, hire a professional to do the work.
Garden Maintenance: Middle Elevations
PUT FALLEN LEAVES TO WORK
Autumn brings free mulch. You can either leave leaf litter on the ground to gradually decompose and feed the soil or rake it up and compost for use in the garden next spring. Never burn your leaves, as this wastes valuable organic matter and the resulting smoke is bad for air quality.
Garden Maintenance: High Elevations
REPLENISH GARDEN SOIL
If you didn’t get a chance to do so in October, remove spent annual vegetables and flowers. Spread a 3- to 4-inch-thick layer of compost over the bed and work it into the upper foot of soil. Cover the soil with a weed-barrier fabric, available at garden supply centers, or add an additional 5 to 6 inches of mulch to conserve moisture and prevent weed seed establishment.
KEEP PLANTS HYDRATED
Water perennials, vines, shrubs and trees throughout the late fall and winter months. Plant roots that absorb water tend to be clustered around the drip line, or beneath the soil surface just below the edge of the plant canopy. Concentrate irrigation there to maximize the uptake of applied water. Water should penetrate to a depth of 2 feet for perennials, vines and shrubs, and 3 feet for trees. Use a long soil probe, available at nurseries and garden centers, to determine how deeply the water has soaked into the soil. The probe will easily glide through damp soil but will stop once dry conditions are encountered.