GARDENING: Tips from a master gardener for November
From potting bulbs indoors to creating Christmas displays, this month’s gardening chores are about getting ready for an evergreen winter.
John Hethrington has been gardening since he was 9 years old. He spent his youth gardening in Toronto and obtained his master gardener certification before moving to Meaford where he cultivates 2.5 acres with 20 different gardens. He publishes monthly gardening tips for local newsletters and his column will also appear on CollingwoodToday.ca.
To have the best chance of spring flowering in your home gardens, there are some important tasks to complete in November. Area master gardener John Hethrington offers this to-do list for your wintering chores:
- I usually recommend a little, deep, last minute watering, but with all the rain this year, you should be fine until spring.
- Buy discount bulbs on sale and put them in the ground. Your extra efforts will bloom in the spring.
- Remove the plants from your pots and other containers and empty the soil. Place plants and soil in your compost pile; clean the jars well and put them away.
- There is an annual debate as to whether you should cut your perennials, grasses, etc., in the fall, or leave them long for “winter sake”. Most of the perennials here are covered with 2 feet of snow, so you can’t see them anyway. Since spring cleaning can be intimidating and there can be rainy weather, late spring and / or instant summer, this year I’m going for a big fall cleaning to get a boost. in the spring of 2022. Do as you do.
- Dig up and bring back dahlia tubers, tuberous begonias and gladiolus bulbs, cala lily bulbs when the leaves turn yellow. Remove the soil and wash the tubers. Remove the small corms from the happy corms for more plants next year. Harden tubers and bulbs for two to three weeks in a warm, dry place. Place in trays and cover with dry compost, peat, sand or perlite. Store at around 5 degrees Celsius in a cold cellar or lightly heated garage.
- Try repotting spring bulbs like amaryllis and paper narcissus and force them to bloom for Christmas and / or for an indoor color in late winter. Different bulbs will require different lengths of cold to flower, so read the product packaging carefully. Store the bulbs in a place where they will not freeze (around 5 degrees Celsius). A refrigerator or a cold cellar will be perfect for this.
- Complete wintering procedures for plants, containers, drain hoses, and clean all other garden equipment. To be a perfect gardener, sharpen the tools and put linseed oil on the wooden handles. Paint the handles of the small hand tools red so you won’t lose them next spring.
- Protect young trees from rodents using metal collars or plastic protectors.
- Mount your hybrid tea and floribunda roses with 10 inches of compost covering the stems, or use a metal or plastic “rose necklace” and fill it with compost before the soil freezes.
- Create one or more winter / Christmas urns using a variety of evergreen branches. Find branches with berries and add color with red dogwood and dried hydrangea flowers.
- Check the mulch levels in the gardens. Remove 2 to 3 inch mulch around shrub and tree trunks to deter rodents. Add more compost or leaves to the beds if you have them. Provides winter homes for pollinators and other insects.
- Order seed catalogs for next spring.
- And finally, buy your supply of Triple-19 fertilizer for March snow application to all of your garden beds. Then you will have the fertilizer when the time comes to apply it in March. Many times a store’s summer supply has only arrived after the snow has cleared from your flower beds.