Garden tips for November | November 12, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Real Estate - November 12, 2010

Garden tips for November

It's time to organize the garden for winter

by Jack McKinnon

Winter is coming and the plants are going to sleep. It is time to start preparing. Stocking up on firewood, seeds, mulch and journaling materials is always wise in November.

This month's tips will help organize that winter preparation. Here are the tips:

1. Clean up all plants that will stay the winter. Some annuals will winter over, biennials need deadheading and cutting back and perennials look better spruced up a bit.

2. Remove annuals that are finished with their show. Pull them out and rake the bed clean. Save any mulch for future use, or compost it. Divide perennials like Fortnight Lily, agapanthus and day lilies.

3. Get the weeds and their seeds out of the garden. This part of landscape maintenance is paramount to having a true show garden.

4. Renovate lawns if you haven't done it yet. This means aerating and thatching. Both are really vital to healthy turf. The biggest nemesis to a lawn (besides gophers) is fungi, and thatching and aerating really help keep fungi dried up.

5. If we haven't had much rain by now, keep watering. A few rain sprinkles will not suffice. If you need to, dig down six or eight inches to determine how much to water.

6. Plant winter flowers and spring bulbs. Primula, cineraria, ornamental kale, wildflowers like California poppy and chrysanthemums are available in nurseries. Plant iris, daffodil, narcissus, anemone, freesia and tulips.

7. Do a snail search-and-destroy mission. If you have ducks (geese preferred) let them loose in the garden. Keep an eye on them so they don't eat your good plants though. If no ducks are available, get in there after them yourself.

8. Make soup and invite friends over for a seed-swapping party. At this time you can compare notes on what you are doing.

9. It is the time to buy and plant cyclamen. There are many colors and varieties. Choose from white, red, pink, miniature, doubles, streaked and a whole assortment of foliage types. Cyclamen make great bedding plants as well as indoor displays. Plant them so the bulb is a little high to prevent rotting.

10. Work on your garden journal. This is a great time to sit with your notes and memories of the year, sip a cup of tea and catch up on your journal. You and your family will enjoy reading this in years to come. Write about the successes and failures.

Good Gardening.

Garden coach Jack McKinnon can be reached at 650-455-0687, by e-mail at Visit his website at


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