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COLUMN: November garden to do list

Rosanne LoParco
Sentinel columnist
Posted 11/4/22

With all the work we already did in our gardens this year, chances are you’re tired out. It’s easy to go dormant like our plants.

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COLUMN: November garden to do list


With all the work we already did in our gardens this year, chances are you’re tired out. It’s easy to go dormant like our plants. Depending on the weather, last minute gardening chores can still be squeezed in now, leaving you with the rest of the winter to relax. Also, doing some things now will ensure you have an easier time come spring. Here are some garden chores to do now.

Leave the leaves

Leaves aren’t litter; they are actually good for the yard and garden and can be used several ways. Piles of leaves shouldn’t sit on top of the lawn all winter long; if leaves are too thick, they can cause damage to turf crowns. Instead, shred them using a mower. As long as you can see the tops of the grass, leave them on the lawn. They will break down over winter and provide long-term nutrients to your grass.

If mulched leaves are too thick for the lawn, consider raking them and using in your vegetable garden beds or use them around your perennials as mulch. You can also rake them to the edges of your property and when combined with fallen branches can provide beneficial habitats for overwintering pollinators and beneficial insects.

Rose care

Don’t forget to winterize hybrid tea roses, miniatures, and climbers. You can use layers of leaves with mulch to mound around the base of plants, or consider buying rose cones. Be sure to poke holes in the tops of rose cones to provide air circulation.

Prune out any damaged or dead canes. If your roses experienced a disease problem such as black spot, it’s critical to rake up and remove all the fallen debris and destroy it. Diseases such as black spot can overwinter in the debris only to reinfect the plant again next year.

Loosen canes of climbing roses from their structure, tie them together and lay them on the ground. Pin them down to the ground. Mound canes with soil and mark them so once spring comes you can carefully remove the soil and reattach the canes to their structure.

Time to clean

Instead of waiting until spring, clean your tools and containers now.

Sharpening your tools now before you put them away will also make sure you’re ready for gardening come spring. Don’t forget the lawn equipment; lawn mower blades can be sharpened, spark plugs and oil changed and gasoline drained. Some gardeners add a fuel stabilizer to the gas instead before storing mowers for winter.

Garden containers can be soaked in a solution of one part bleach, nine parts water to disinfect them. You can use the same solution to clean your pruners, scissors, or clippers.

A final cleaning and weeding

If the weather cooperates, November is a final time to pull out your dead annuals and the rest of your vegetable garden plants. Many weeds germinate now; a final weeding will save you time come spring. Till your vegetable garden bed and if you have time, add compost and manure so you’ll be ready for next year.

Don’t forget the bulbs

As long as the ground isn’t frozen, you can still plant bulbs. Consider early, mid and late season spring bulbs to ensure you have lots of color for the spring. If you have animal issues, daffodils are your best choice. Thanks to plant breeders, daffodils aren’t just yellow; you can get your color fix with many different daffodil varieties.

It’s time to look around your yard and garden and make notes about what worked and what didn’t work. Take pictures and make notes to begin a garden journal. What would you like to change, continue or update next year? Doing a little work before winter arrives and taking notes for next year will ensure that you’re off and running come spring.

Cornell Cooperative Extension Oneida County answers home and garden questions which can be emailed to or call 315-736-3394, press 1 and ext. 333. Leave your question, name and phone number. Questions are answered weekdays, 8am to 4pm. Also, visit our website at or phone 315-736-3394, press 1 and then ext.100.


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