For The Answer
By Calvin R. Finch, PhD, SAWS Conservation Director, and Horticulturist
Week of October 31, 2005
“November Gardening Tasks”
In the vegetable garden use seed for carrots, radish, beets, mustard, rutabagas, chard, lettuce, and turnips. Make sure the lettuce seed is not covered by soil. Place it on the surface of well-prepared soil. Plant broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, and Brussels sprouts transplants. All the vegetables require full sun to produce at their best.
If your tomatoes are going to mature before the first freeze, they should be at least golf ball size by now. Protect them from caterpillars with a Bt product like Bioworm Control, Thuricide or Dipel.
Apply a side dressing of about ½ cup of slow release lawn fertilizer per plant. The other vegetables and flowers will benefit by an application of a cup of the same fertilizer per 50 square feet of garden.
Autumn is the best time to plant shrubs and shade trees.
Some of our soils are difficult to dig so select a tree from the nursery that is relatively small so you can manage digging the hole without the need for dynamite or heavy equipment. Dig the hole only as deep as the root ball and two or three times as wide. Never plant the tree too deep. It is best to have it stick out of the ground rather than have it in a sunken area. Do not waste your time or money adding additives (compost, planting fertilizer, or micronutrients) to the hole. As far as I know there is no research that verifies that the expensive additives contribute to survival or growth rate. What does help is to mulch over the root system three – four inches deep to keep the soil cool, reduce evaporation, and keep weeds and grass from competing with the tree. Shredded brush, leaves, or partially finished compost make good mulch. Do not put the mulch against the trunk.
My favorite shade trees are live oak, Texas red oak, Mexican white oak, cedar elm, Montezuma cypress, Chinese pistache, Bur oak, Chinkapin oak, and anaqua.
For shrubs in the sun or shade consider the hollies, nandinas, full size pittosporum, and viburnum. For full sun, Texas mountain laurel makes a good tall shrub or small tree. Standard yaupon holly and Texas redbuds are also good choices for small trees.
It is not too late to fertilize your lawn with “winterizer” fertilizer. Definitely quit watering the lawn. A wet lawn in November will be infected by brown patch fungus.
If you feed the birds, November is a good time to begin feeding sunflower seeds and thistle seed. Cardinals, doves, chicadees, titmice and jays like the sunflower seeds. Finches like the thistle. Maintain your sugar water feeders into November at least as long as the hummingbirds are buzzing around. Some years rufous hummingbirds stay all winter.
Commercial peach orchards apply copper hydroxide (Kocide) on or about November 1 to the foliage, you can too. It defoliates the trees and combats bacterial diseases. Most pecan varieties mature in November. For best quality collect the nuts from the ground as quickly as you can.
November is the best month for thinning iris, daylilies,
Shasta daisies, phlox, and other perennials. Divide the rhizomes and
bulbs at the obvious joints. Cut the root mass of the phlox and daisies
with a sharp shovel into halves or quarters. Replant the pieces about
18 inches apart.