Northwest November Backyard To-Do Checklist

Northwest November Garden To-Do List

November in the northwest can often be a wet and windy affair. The rain can make it difficult to go out into the garden without a rain cover. Therefore, have your rain jacket ready for your outdoor garden trips. Schedule minor gardening chores to do between rain and stormy weather. I find this time of year relaxing as garden maintenance can be done at my own pace and nothing is extremely time sensitive. Here are some things to do in November.

Sow native seeds in autumn. If you give them a cold time (winter) they will germinate better. Photo: Jason Jorgensen

Sow native seeds. Fall is an excellent time to start seeding native plants outdoors. Native annuals and perennials require autumn rains and cooler temperatures to germinate and establish, just like in their native environment. The shortened growth period in the fall will help them build a healthy root system that will keep them alive until the onset of spring weather. Seeds sown in the fall have an earlier flowering cycle that is perfect for native insects, and the plants are better suited to the drier weather of summer.

Snow crocus bulbsCertain bulbs such as these snow crocuses (Crocus tommasinianus, Zones 3–8) have a better chance of success if planted later in the fall. Photo: Jason Jorgensen

Now plant tulips and crocuses. It is a good idea to postpone planting tulips and crocus bulbs (Crocus spp. And cvs., Zones 3–8) until later in the season to help with rodent theft and prevent bulb root rot, but if so They haven’t planted them yet Get them and your other spring onions in the ground as soon as possible. I am often persuaded to buy new and interesting lightbulbs this time of year and try them in containers and on the floor. Why not? I’m always looking for something different and exciting to try out.

Salad covered with frost clothIf you want to sow a crop of lettuce to grow this winter, cover it with a frost cloth. Photo: Fionuala Campion

Grow late-season vegetables. There are some cool season vegetables that you can plant in November that you can harvest well into winter and early spring. If you have bulbs of garlic that need to be planted, now is a good time to get them in the ground. As a side note, garlic can also help as a rodent repellent. If you like fava beans, now is a good time to start growing them for an early spring harvest. I’m growing a purple heirloom fava bean called ‘Extra Precoce a Grano Violetto’. With their rich dark purple color, the seeds alone are worth adding to your garden. If your beds are covered in frost, then you can grow a round of winter salad mixes, radishes, and small carrots.

Garden toolsOrganize and clean your tools and tool shed after the long and dirty growing season. Photo: Mark Dwyer

Clean up your tool shed. If the rain hasn’t stopped, now is a good time to clean and organize your tool storage area wherever it is. I am fortunate to have a huge shelf in my garage that I can put out my tools to thoroughly clean and protect from rain. Order replacement blades and parts to make sure you have them by the next growing season.

Forcing potting soilIf you are potting lightbulbs to force, place them close together for the best displays. Photo: Jason Jorgensen

Force paper white. If you want to bring a little springtime feeling into your home over the winter, now is a good time to prepare and prepare paper whites (Narcissus spp. And cvs., Zones 8-11). The wonderful scent of these flowers in your home is a great reminder of the coming spring. Potted pears also make great gifts to friends. These lamps are super easy to force. All you need are some containers, potting soil, onions, and a little top dressing gravel or sand (the latter is optional, but it really makes your pot white look very professional). Place the bulbs close together on a 3 to 5 inch layer of potting soil in a container with a drainage hole, then cover them with enough potting soil so the necks stick out straight. Press the potting soil firmly down and cover it with 1/2 to 3/4 inch gravel or sand. Water them and store them in a cool place like a garage, flower shed, or cooling rack. After five to six weeks, the necks will be 1 to 2 inches long with some green growth, and you will know it’s time to move them to a cool but sunny window. They then quickly grow into flowering bulbs. Then all you have to do is enjoy the wonderful scent of spring in the middle of winter!

I know November is a slower time for outdoor chores and projects, but these chores will help fill in the gaps if you want to go outside to tackle something. Remember that the seed and plant catalogs will be available soon. So when you have everything ready in advance, you can start thinking about the garden plans for the next year. But there is a lot to do before then.

– Jason Jorgensen is a landscape architect based in Seattle.

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