November 2011 Gardening Calendar
This is a once-a-month column provided to Wilson County News reader online.
November is the month that the real cold weather starts. We expect to be free of hot spells that will set back finicky cool weather annuals so we can plant pansies, cyclamen, primula, and spinach.
Pansies are the most cold hardy of the cool weather annuals. They can bloom through all but our most severe cold weather. Use pansies as transplants for full sun beds. Prepare the bed by incorporating one to two inches of compost and two pounds of slow release or winterizer lawn fertilizer per 50 square feet of bed.
My favorite pansies are the clear-face selections but some of the monkey-face selections have larger flowers. There are lots of colors from which to choose including blue, purple, yellow, white, brown, and orange. Deer love pansies.
There are also Johnny-jump-up and violas that are small flowered pansy cousins.
Cyclamen are spectacular winter flowers for shady gardens (deep shade). The leaves are heart shaped and thick with silver tracings. The flowers are borne above the leaves on stalks. The colors are very intense. Red, pink, lavender, and white are the most popular.
The limiting factor on cyclamen is the price of the transplant. At $6 a plant it is hard to afford the 40 or 50 plants that you would like for mass planting. Instead use them in containers and small beds near the door or front gate. Remember that they require deep shade. Deer will eat cyclamen blooms.
Primula are not as expensive as cyclamen and have some of the same characteristics. One selection grows just like pansies (low to the ground) and has intense colored blooms of yellow, blue, red, pink, white, and purple. If they don’t remind you of clown paint from the circus I will be surprised. Other selections are more upright with pastel colored blooms that grow to about 16 inches tall.
Whichever primula you use protect them with slug and snail bait. Primula is a favorite food of pill bugs, slugs and snails.
In the vegetable garden spinach transplants are just as sensitive to hot weather as pansies, primula, and cyclamen. Plant spinach in rows with one foot between plants. Harvest leaves as you need them. If the harvest always leaves at least half of the leaves, the plants should produce through April. Twelve plants will keep the family in spinach for salads and cooked dishes.
November is arguably the best month to plant new trees and shrubs in our climate. The plants have time to develop roots before the heat of summer challenges them. Area nurseries also have sales in the fall. Texas read oak, cedar elm, live oak, Mexican sycamore, chinkapin oak, Mexican white oak, bur oak, and Chinese pistache are all good choices.
For shrubs dwarf yaupon holly, dwarf burford holly, standard burford holly, viburnums, standard pittosporum, dwarf Chinese holly, Texas mountain laurel, and nandinas are all good choices. The viburnums, holly, nandinas, and pittosporum have good shade tolerance.
You do not need to add potting soil, compost or soil additives to the planting hole. Use the native soil. The trees and shrubs are perfectly capable of growing in it.
Hummingbirds may still visit sugar water feeders this month. To feed cardinals, chickadees, and titmice use sunflower seed in the steel Absolute feeders with weight sensitive perches. The steel and perches discourage squirrels and white-wing-doves. Feed thistle seed in tube feeders for American and lesser goldfinches.