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November Gardening Calendar
The first average frost date is around November 13th but the weather in the month is usually pretty wonderful. It is a pleasure to be in the garden and there is lots you can do.
Plant pansies in November. It is also not too late for snapdragons and dianthus. Plant pansies, dianthus and snapdragons in the sun. For deep shade, plant calendula or primula. Calendula are the plants that we often give to cheer up hospitalized friends. They are good for that use but spectacular as a winter blooming plant in San Antonio. They bloom every day and can tolerate our occasionally freezing day. The flowers are red, white, pink or violet and resemble orchids.
Primula also prospers in deep shade when it is cool. They resemble pansies in growth habit. The blooms of my favorite primulas have very intense basic colors. Others have pastel colored blooms. Protect primula and pansies from pill bugs, snails and slugs with beer traps or slug and snail bait.
November is a good time to thin out iris, daylilies, perennial phlox and shasta daisies. Make new plantings with the extra clumps in your garden or give them to your neighbors. The extra perennials can be planted in 1-gallon containers filled with potting soil until you can find them a new home. In the case of the iris and daylilies the rhizome or bulb can be stored in a dry, cool location until replanted. Remember iris must be planted shallow enough that the top of the rhizome is visible. They also are sensitive to rotting if they are mulched.
The lawn is not growing much in November but is usually still green. Keep it on the dry side to prevent brown patch. If you failed to apply a winterizer fertilizer in October, it is not too late to do it early in November. Many of the winter weeds have already germinated but you can prevent some late winter weeds if you apply a product such as XL, Amaze, balan or betasan now.
In the vegetable garden, plant broccoli, cabbage, rutabagas, turnips and especially spinach in November. Spinach is a premiere winter crop for South Texas. Introduce your children and grandchildren to vegetables by letting them harvest spinach for salads from their own garden. Pick the nutritious vegetable leaf by leaf, as you need it to allow the plants to produce until late April. Fertilize winter vegetables generously with slow release lawn fertilizer to keep them growing and yielding.
Be prepared to protect the tomatoes from the first freeze. Often times if the plants make it through the first freeze of the season we will have 3-4 more weeks of good weather. Plenty of time to ripen much of the crop. A tent of a blanket or a blanket and plastic over the tomato cage works very effectively. The plastic by itself is not recommended. Plastic conducts the cold quickly if it touches the foliage and the area under the plastic heats up quickly when the sun comes out.
The same system works well to protect your citrus trees and subtropical plants. If the forecast calls for freezing temperatures for more than 4-6 hours use a mechanic’s light or holiday lights a heat source. Plants such as bougainvillea, hibiscus, plumeria and mandevilla that are more sensitive to cold should be stored in a frost-free garage or greenhouse.
November is a great time to plant trees and shrubs. The plants have time to develop roots before the summer heat. It is also time to begin feeding the birds. Use suet for the insect eating birds like woodpeckers, wrens and myrtle warblers. The pepper-flavored suet will discourage the squirrels but the birds seem to love them. Use sunflower seeds for cardinals, titmice and chickadees. Unfortunately the sunflower seeds are also favorites of the white winged doves and squirrels. A steel feeder with a weight sensitive perch will keep them from eating all the seed. Feed thistle seed for American goldfinches and lesser goldfinches. Birdbaths, especially if you rig them to have a drip or running water will often attract cedar waxwings, orioles, painted buntings, warblers and indigo buntings.