November is the last month before frost here in Zone 9. The first average frost date is November 15; the last average frost date is December 15. My garden journal says there was a frost on November 13, 2014; I don’t recall it freezing at all last year. That’s Texas weather for you.
So, there is about 30 days left in the growing season. Things are slowing down in the garden. The plants I planted in October have sprouted, but are growing slower than I had expected. They are frost-hardy, so I am not worried too much about frosts.
My to do list for November includes:
- Continue to clean out old dead plants. Don’t let pests overwinter in debris. Compost or dispose of dead materials.
- Continue to succession plant early maturing, cold-hardy crops like lettuce or kale. With any luck at all, these crops will produce all the way until spring next year.
- Weed the garden. You can try the “chop and drop” technique: cut the weeds off at ground level, and leave the tops on the plot as a mulch. The roots will decompose, adding nutrients into the soil. If you have been mulching all year, this shouldn’t take too long at all. I learned that lesson a few years ago, when it took all day to weed the garden.
- Mulch unused garden plots or plant a green cover crop. I normally use hay, but this year I am trying a cover crop of red clover to add nitrogen through the winter. Mulching covers the bare ground, preventing most weeds from sprouting. Any weeds that poke up above the mulch are long and spindly and are easy to pull out. My plots that are growing fall vegetables will be mulched after the plants are 2-3” tall.
- Dig compost into your plots. It will have time to decompose further over the winter, and be ready for spring planting.
- Prepare for a frost/freeze with garden covers. You can simply use sheets draped over the plants, or you can go with rebar and 1/2” PVC pipe to make a scaffold to keep the row cover off the plants.
- Clean up your work area. I admit, this is a “Z” priority on my list, but when everything else is done, making a work area tidy now will go a long way to make spring gardening efficient.
- Inspect tools for any damage. Clean, repair, or replace garden tools as required. Remember, take care of your tools and your tools will take care of you. Take the rust off tools; oil them, and sharpen the edges; Wipe wooden handles with Linseed oil for preservation. Prepare any gas engines for winter storage.
- Study seed catalogs for next year. You can get a list of catalogs online or order printed copies here.
- Review your gardening journal for next year’s plantings. Figure out what grew, what didn’t and what to do differently this next year. Network with fellow gardeners. Trade seeds. Experiment! Last year, I learned of Lemon Cucumbers from a fellow gardener, planted some and they turned out well. Next year, I am going to set aside some space for perennial vegetables, and try companion planting and crop rotation using plant guilds.
This blog is all about experiments and learning new things. I will let you know what works and doesn’t work in real time! Please share your knowledge with other Zone 9 gardeners in the comment section.