Minnesota gardening doesn’t seem very likely in November. It isn’t really a time to garden, but it is a great time to do some very worthy garden chores. In this article I will talk about a few of those, and we can go from there to a few fun tips for you.
The most important thing you can do in your gardens in November is to water your trees and shrubs well. It is important to have both trees and shrubs go into the winter freeze with water at their roots. That way in the Spring they will have some good deep moisture to draw upon before the ground even thaws. When we have early warm windy days in Spring, the trees and shrubs will still be able to draw water from below the frost depth. This is especially important for evergreens. Good ground moisture goes a long way to prevent winter burn. Winter burn is when the needles of evergreens dry out and turn brown. Some evergreens located on the southwest side of homes are especially vulnerable. Watering will prevent stress and drying of those special evergreens.
Once the ground does freeze you may want to add a layer of mulch to some plants. If you have perennials that may not be zone hardy here in zone 4, or are a bit tender, you can mulch and give them extra protection. Mulching, after the ground freezes, helps to keep the ground frozen until it is later in the Spring. The conditions that most plants can’t tolerate is the cycle of freeze to thaw that we have here in Minnesota in early Spring. When this happens the small fibrous roots are broken and that is the end of some plants. By mulching you keep the ground frozen until that cycle is past, therefore the stress on the plants is not there. When temperatures warm, usually mid to late April, you pull the mulch back and the perennials will be ready to begin growing again.
The last chore for you to do is to clean and store your garden tools. To keep shovels and hoes clean it only takes a few minutes. Fill a bucket with sand and add some motor oil. Put the tools in the sand and lift them up and down scraping the sand against the blades. The tools come out clean and the oil keeps the surface of the metal on your tools from rusting. I also recommend sharpening your tools before you store them. That way you will be ready to go in the Spring when all the days will be filled with things to do other than sharpen tools.
The other chore for most gardeners in November is to clean up leaves and other garden debris. As leaves fall they can be raked or you can use a blower to make piles. Then the fun begins if you have children. A big pile of leaves always calls for some jumping and squealing. It has to be about play and the leaves are so tempting when they are piled high. Once the playing is done you can bag up the leaves and send them off to compost or better yet you can shred them up and save them for mulch.
There, the chores are done. Now, bring on the cocoa and a cozy fire in the fireplace.
It feels good to settle in and look back on the memories of the garden past. One thing leads to another and before you know it you will be planning your garden for the coming year. We will be here to help you plan and create what you dream of. Let’s get together in the Spring and pick out some nice plants for you then.