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November in the Garden

67828_10200538108750799_1349312954_nWell, it’s just about the end of the gardening season. This is the time of year that resent transplants to the northwest discover the difference between rain resistance and waterproof. We generally get about 6 inches of much needed but deeply resented rain this month.  Our winter rains usually come inland on warm winds from the Pacific Ocean on what locals refer to as the Pineapple express. These fronts are basically southern extensions of the Polar jet stream and are the main reason our winters are usually so mild. Here in the Northwest we traditionally have relatively warm weather with few deep freezes and lot’s of precipitation to keep our forests mossy, mushroomy and green. But who knows what the future weather will bring especially after the crazy cold and dry winter we had last year – it’s best to be prepared. Remember there is no bad weather just bad outerwear!
If you are hard core – invest in a good jacket and finish up the last of the seasons garden projects.
– Check for garden journal and give yourself a hearty congratulations on a great year!. Make notes on what did and did not work in the garden. Plan for additions or subtractions. Make a calendar of events to help you remember planting, pruning or any other important dates for the coming season.
– Freshen up potted containers with winter interest or fill with colorful cut branches or mosses gathered from the roof.
– It’s not to late to mulch but wet mulch is much harden to spread that dry. Also, be cautious of using bark which if overused can rob the soil of nitrogen. Never pile mulch thickly around the base of trees and shrubs as it can harbor disease and pests.
– Wrap tender plants with burlap.
– Drain hoses and store, turn off water supply to prevent freezing.
– Wet soil makes pulling blackberries, scotch broom and wild brambles much easier and satisfying to boot!
– Destroy any leaves and plants that may contain diseases like mildew or black spot that infected your summer crops. These diseases can survive in the soil to reemerge zombie like to attack next season.
– Turn over water pots. Empty pots of annuals and clean the containers to prevent diseases. Permanent plantings may prefer to be moved to a sheltered location out of the wind but even these plants will need some winter water so don’t completely cover.
– This is a great time for cutting away dead growth and raking away leaves and spent flower stalks. But while this will tidy up your beds it will also take away winter seeds for foraging birds and hibernation spots for beneficial insects. Consider leaving a few little piles or construct a beneficial bug condo.
– If you have a cold frame then greens and leeks can keep on producing into the winter.
– Make yourself a pot of tea from the mint you harvested in the summer and enjoy a bit of a break from your garden. Maybe even pack a thermos and go for a hike to “soak” in some of the beauty of The Pacific Northwest.

 
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