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Agriculture & Outdoors

November 2015 Gardening Calendar

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November 1, 2015 | 2,918 views | Post a comment

This is an occasional column available to all users. Watch for Calvin Finch's weekly column, South Texas Gardener, every week in the Wilson County News. Subscribe today!

The daytime temperatures this fall have been high but the night time temps have moderated. Take advantage of the cooling temperatures to get shade trees and shrubs planted. Trees and shrubs planted now have a number of months of moderate temperatures to develop a root system before the plants are challenged by the hot dry summer.

Among the recommended shade trees are live oak, Texas red oak, cedar elm, Mexican sycamore, bur oak, Mexican white oak and chinkapin oak.

Small trees do not provide much relief from the hot summer sun but they do provide a transition between shade trees, shrubs and the lawn. Consider Mexican plum, loquat, redbud, large crape myrtles, anaqua, lacey oak, and Texas persimmon.

For shrubs consider Texas mountain laurel, viburnum, yaupon holly, burford holly, dwarf Chinese holly, nandina, standard pittosporum, old-fashioned or tough modern roses, pomegranate, or crape myrtles.

It is unusual for retail nurseries to have a large selection of the recommended fruit trees now, but some do. Plant pomegranate, oriental persimmon, low chill apples, figs, peaches, plums and pears. For specific variety recommendations visit

As long as the lawn is green, it is not too late to fertilize the lawn. Use a fertilizer labeled “winterizer” with a 3-1-2 nutrient ratio such as 18-6-12 or 15-5-10. The winter fertilization contributes to cold weather resistance and a fast spring green-up.

In the vegetable garden plant spinach transplants one foot apart in the row. Harvest the leaves as you need them from now until early spring.

Watch for cabbage loopers feeding on broccoli, cabbage, collards, cauliflower and other greens. Be ready to quickly apply a Bt based insecticide as soon as any holes in the leaves are discovered.

It is hard to imagine but the first freeze of the winter often occurs in November. Have all the materials you need ready to cover the tomatoes to give them a few extra weeks to mature a crop.

Harvest the citrus as soon as you can use it. It is easy to be overwhelmed by over-mature satsuma, limes, lemons and grapefruit if you don’t start using them now. The fruit does not need to be highly colored to be ripe enough to eat.

Wildflower seed needs to be spread now so species such as bluebonnets that germinate in the fall can be in place on a site in full sun where the seed is in contact with bare soil.

In the flower garden, pansies are the most popular plant for winter color. They are available in yellow, violet, white, orange, brown, and blue flowers. The bloom can be clear-faced or have a dark center that is called monkey-faced. Some varieties are 3 inches across but most selections are half-dollar size. Pansies grow best in full sun but can be grown with fair blooming with as little as 4 hours of sun.

Johnny-jump-ups and violas are closely related to pansies but grow bushier plants with smaller but more numerous blooms.

Cyclamen is a spectacular blooming plant for gardens or containers in deep shade. The bloom colors are very intense and look like orchids. Select from red, purple, pink, white, and lavender flowers. Cyclamen foliage is nearly as attractive as the blooms. The heart-shaped, thick, waxy leaves are etched with silver and dark green. As you might expect cyclamen are expensive at $5-10 per plant. Be prepared for the sticker shock!

Nearly as beautiful and as expensive as cyclamen, primulas are also an excellent choice for color in the deep shade. There are at least two selections on the market in San Antonio. The taller version grows to about 12 inches tall with blue, white or pink pastel blooms.

The lower growing version of primula has a growth habit like a pansy but the leaves and flower colors are very different. The leaves are crinkly and Kelly green. The flowers have the same intensity as the show paint with which clowns in the circus decorate themselves. The flower colors include red, blue, white, yellow, and violet.

Always protect primulas with slug and snail bait. It is one of the pests’ favorite foods. They will even climb into large containers to devour the expensive plants.

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