Updated: Nov 18
November is a pivotal time here at our farm as most of our flowering blooms, both annuals and perennials are tired and turning in for the chillier days ahead. We are located in hardiness zone 9b which translates to us having a longer growing season than most (first frost date around Dec 1 and last spring frost date around Feb 15). With that said, our "off season" is often compressed and tasks that other farmers and fellow gardeners would start in mid September, we start in mid-November.
WRAPPING YOUR BRAIN AROUND ALL "TURN-DOWN" TASKS
A myriad of tasks can quickly stack up.
Take a deep breath.
We've got you covered with this guide that you can apply to each growing area.
First start by dividing your growing area into smaller sections.
By dividing into smaller sections, the grand task at hand will be less daunting. With each section, move through the steps below.
1. Assess your growing areas for DISEASED plant material and remove.
Start with plants that have been riddled with disease.
For example, despite our efforts to keep our plants healthy, it is very common for powdery mildew to set in on our Dahlias, Zinnias and Roses as temperatures drop.
We work through each growing area to remove diseased leaf material and discard into yard waste bins for disposal.
2. Deadhead, prune and shape perennials
As plants go dormant during late Fall, this is a great time to remove spent blooms, cut back dead woody stems on plants, and shape unruly growth. In doing so, this allows your plants to focus their energy on staying healthy and generating new growth for Spring. Peonies, roses and hydrangeas are examples that benefit from this exercise.
Be sure to disinfect your blades between plants to prevent any spread of potential disease. We apply 70% isopropyl alcohol with a small spray bottle directly to blades and wipe clean.
Per your local fire district, check for any dry overgrowth that should be cut back to keep your home and neighborhood safe.
3. Dormant spray plants (optional)
After pruning, you can add a layer of protection to your trees and plants with a light spray of dormant oil or horticultural neem oil. Spray on a calm and dry day. The oil will also help seal off cut exposed ends and help prevent disease.
Due to the volume we are spraying here at the farm, we use a 2G pump sprayer and dilute per instructions. For smaller applications, hand spray bottles are available.
4. Amend beds
Whether you grow plants in a high density fashion like
we do here at the farm or if you have ample spacing, it is not only important to feed plants during the growing season, but it is even more so important to help recharge your soil and add nutrients between plantings.
The key ingredients that we add back into our soil are:
1. Broad fertilizer
2. Compost (we attain ours from a local horse farm)
3. Earthworm Castings
4. Perlite or aggregate such as red lava rock
4. Mulch appropriately
Leaf debris is great for soil health. However, it is important to assess your leaf debris to ensure that is is "healthy." It is best to remove disease ridden leaf debris eg. Rose leaves that have been infected by rust or black spot.
We often take excess leaf debris from our curly willow and add the debris over our flower plantings as mulch.
5. Plan for overwintering tender perennials
Some tender succulents and perennials can be overwintered successfully with some careful planning. Consider purchasing row cover cloth appropriate for your temperatures to protect your plants from frost.