"My November To Do List," from the Whistling Gardener

Having just finished presenting a class on “Putting the Garden to Bed” I am feeling like this check list is a bit redundant.
The Whistling Gardener shares his “To Do” list for the month of November. Photo courtesy of Sunnyside Nursery.

This weekly column is being reproduced with the permission of Steve Smith, The Whistling Gardener, and owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville.

Having just finished presenting a class on “Putting the Garden to Bed” I am feeling like this check list is a bit redundant. If you missed the class this will serve as a good reminder.

LAWNS: It is time to apply one last feeding. Use an organic fertilizer such as EB Stone Nature’s Green that won’t leach in the Sound.

This is also a good time to apply lime and control red thread. Bonide Infuse is an effective product for controlling this disease. Improving drainage and fertility will also help reduce red thread.

FRUIT AND FLOWERING TREES: Sanitation is the most important consideration for fruit tree health. Clean up all leaves and spray stone fruits such as cherries, plums and peaches with a copper spray.

For pears and apples use a sulfur spray although copper will work too.

Bonide Orchard Spray which contains both sulfur and pyrethrum is a totally natural product and is completely safe for fruits and vegetables. It will control both diseases and insects. For extra protection you can follow up with an application of horticultural oil.

VEGETABLES: If you haven’t planted a fall crop of veggies then it’s a good idea to spread a mulch over the soil. Spread it about an inch thick and mix it into the soil come spring.

Before you do this it is wise to spread some lime as this will sweeten the soil and make everything better.

CONTAINERS: Refresh your containers with pansies, winter hardy perennials, ground covers, shrubs and even small trees. These arrangements will look splendid all winter and come spring you can remove them and plant them out in the yard.

Use a half strength soluble feed like EB Stone Fish and Kelp twice a month to keep them looking sharp.

BULBS: November is the consummate month to plant bulbs and once you have the beds cleaned up it is easy to dig a few holes and drop a handful here and there. They are great in containers as well and nothing is cheerier than a bright yellow clump of daffodils in March.

BERRIES: For raspberries and blackberries, cut the canes back to five or six feet tall and attach to a trellis, removing the two year old canes that produced this year (if you haven’t already removed them).

Everbearing raspberries can either be completely cut to the ground or you can leave the one year old canes and they will produce next season like traditional raspberries.

Blueberries only need a light pruning to remove any dead wood and to shape them. Don’t lime blueberries.

Strawberries need to be rejuvenated every few years. Use the runners to replace the mother plants for two or three years and then throw the whole lot away and buy some new ones.

GRAPES AND KIWIS: These plants are vigorous vines that need serious pruning every year once they are established. Come to our Winter Pruning Class on November 8th for info on how to prune them.

ROSES: Prune them hip high in the fall, knee high in the spring and spread a mulch over the crown at least eight inches high. Strip off all the leaves and spray them with a dormant oil to kill any over wintering bugs.

WEED CONTROL: Most winter weeds have already germinated but are still very small so just smother them with an inch of compost and be done with it. Perennial weeds will need to be removed first.

PERENNIALS: These herbaceous plants can either be cut back and cleaned up in the fall or left until spring. My preference is to leave them until late February but some of you will want to clean them up now. Both regimes will work.

Steve Smith is owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached online at


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