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Southern Gardening - Potpourri for November

Just when I have gotten the year 2018 imbedded in my brain, we are approaching 2019. The month of November seems to fly by with Veteran's Day, and then practically the whole week off for Thanksgiving Holidays. Where does the time go? With our eyes now on Thanksgiving, it is fun just thinking about flower arrangements with a fall theme. There are plenty of wild ageratum, black-eyed susan, golden rod, roses, wild asters and even wild grasses such as pampas, that make a great arrangement. Of course, we can add to it the remnants of late planted or sown zinnias, sprigs of dusty miller, and bright cannas. My beds at the farm are full of shrimp colored dwarf cannas and a few blue Mexican petunias. Also white ginger lilies and knock out roses round out the mix. I often gather a few perfect green canna leaves for the arrangement which add texture and interest. So, now that we have the Thanksgiving flower arrangement practically on the table, it is time to plan the feast.

November gardening chores include, cutting back perennials, pulling out summer annuals and weeding. I always mark on the plan where the perennials are located as the remaining leaves may die back in winter, and we do not want to overplant them. In winter, the perennials are growing, but growing underground. Their root systems will be getting larger so that next season, the plants and flowers are bigger and better. Any plant that is over planted will retard the growth of your underground perennials. Many garden center have end of the summer sales which include rather ratty looking perennials such as Shasta Daisies, Cone flowers, etc. Snap them up now at the bargain basement price. Plant them, and in a couple of weeks, prune them back. You will now have a lovely addition to your garden, at probably one fourth the price. Do not forget to place them on you garden plan. My plan is several years old, had dirty smudge marks on it, so I am copying and revising my plan for the future. Gardeners are so optimistic, always looking ahead and not backward.

I may have discussed this before under using household items to save money in gardening chores. For instance recycling Styrofoam cups for sowing seed. Just remember to punch a few holes in the bottom for drainage. And the use of old news paper to block weeds in the garden. One good use of old newspapers is to line outdoor garden pots especially the terra cotta types. Line most of the pot with a few sheets of newspaper, hiding the top edges with dirt or moss then return the dirt. This works like a charm. In the heat of the summer, instead of watering daily and sometimes twice daily, every other day will do the trick. Now the porous terra cotta is a lot more efficient at holding water than before. Also we all know that expensive gardening mats or black plastic when laid in the garden will block out new weed seedlings and smother existing weeds. You can save the money by shredding newspaper, and apply even a foot thick to perform the same task. Placing too may layers of newsprint on top of the soil causes a slow down of oxygen transfer to the soil and encourages root rot and drainage problem. When one shreds the paper, the layers are fluffy and light and you do not encounter this problem. One of the best uses of newspapers is for wrapping tender bulbs for winter storage. Also this is great for storing vegetables since wrapping tomatoes, squash, eggplant, and others can keep the veggies longer in dry storage.

Now is also a great time to plant winter greens. I put collards, and swiss chard into my flower garden which look great with dianthus, pansies, and dusty miller. Of course collards are a pale green, and swiss chard dark green leaves are splashed with reds and yellows even on the stems. I use swiss chard in salads, and when cooked, taste much like spinach. Also the more you pick swiss chard, the more leaves they produce. November is a great time to plant herbs. I have seen a garden centers herbs such as cilantro, parsley, thyme, oregano, mint and all types of sage. With cooler temps and less pests, they will get off to a good start.



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