Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Timely Tips for November

The following is my latest article for the Marion County Master Gardening Program's "Marion Gardener" publication:

Timely Gardening Tips for Marion County (November)
David Y. Goodman, UF/IFAS Marion County Master Gardener

Though many of our plants and trees are going to sleep, we gardeners shouldn’t do the same. November is a beautiful time of year here in Marion County and as the rest of the country starts to freeze, we have plenty to thank God for.

If you started your winter garden last month, you’re probably already harvesting lettuce and radishes. And if you didn’t, it’s not too late to pop in a few cold-hardy veggies like peas and collards. Though they may not grow as fast as you’d like, they generally survive the winter fine and burst into growth as spring approaches.

It’s also not too late to plant a tree. Fall is a great time for that since it allows the new tree to settle in and grow roots throughout the winter. One thing to watch for in November, however, is the lack of rainfall. New transplants need lots of water – don’t let them dry out. One trick is to leave a garden hose at the base of a new tree and just barley turn it on. The slow trickle won’t flood the roots and it also keeps the tree from experiencing as much transplant shock.

Around the yard, it’s acorn season again! Though most acorns are too bitter for humans to eat without extensive preparation, they make great food for goats, pigs, squirrels and some birds. They’re also really good for slingshot ammo; however, the University of Florida does not recommend that particular usage.

In November it’s also time to think about frost protection for your more sensitive trees and shrubs. Canvas, sheets and blankets work well, provided you can keep them from flying away in the wind. Other options for frost protection include strings of incandescent Christmas lights (the LEDs are worthless in this regard), running the sprinkler on your plants all night through a cold snap, keeping the ground bare and un-mulched beneath trees to provide radiant heat from the earth, burying smaller plants beneath straw, planting next to the south wall of a building – and of course, the old standby, praying like crazy that the thermometer stays above 32 degrees. I do all of the above.

Enjoy the cool weather, get some work done while it’s nice out – and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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