Southwest November Backyard To-Do Record

Southwest November Garden To-Do List

We officially made it to November. The air is cooler, our windows are open and the leaves we have are falling. The spears and other wildlife around you may have eaten whatever pumpkins and gourds you left out for the Halloween decor. This is absolutely one of our favorite Tucson weather conditions. We can play in the gardens all day and hardly break a sweat, which we really appreciate after the summer weather!

Clean, lubricate, and sharpen your tools for better long-term performance. Photo: Michelle Provaznik

Clean and sharpen tools. Take some time this month Clean up your garden tools. Spending an hour or two removing the old grime and grime from these pruning shears and shovels can extend their life. Tighten any loose screws and lubricate your scissors, springs or scissors with a multipurpose oil. And don’t forget to sharpen your blades. This will make these tools much easier to use in the future.

Frost cloth a cloth of frost on an orange tree
Cover citrus trees with frost cloths on cold nights. Photos: Fionuala Campion

Protect delicate plants from frost. We can see our first frost this month. In preparation, fill up a frost cloth. You can purchase this lifesaver from your local kindergarten or wholesaler. Use it to protect your frost-sensitive plants, which include many newly planted shrubs, succulents, and fruit trees. We also put some stakes around our fruit trees. This allows the frost cloths to fall over the stakes and not weigh down the fragile branches of newer trees. The frost cloths can be removed in the morning as soon as the coast is clear. If you don’t have a frost cloth and you are in a tie, toss an old leaf on your frost tenders. You can also use Christmas lights to warm delicate plants during the winter months.

'Red Russian' kale is a great winter strainFertilize leafy greens like this ‘Red Russian’ kale with a slow-release fertilizer. Photo: Brittany Carlson

Fertilize. November is a good time to fertilize any succulents that may grow in winter. We use a low-nitrogen fertilizer like Joyful Dirt. They sell entirely organic products online for various purposes. Now is also a good time to beat your leafy greens with a slow-release fertilizer to make them look perky and taste delicious. Read on to learn when and how to fertilize different plants Here.

Harvesting oranges from treesMake sure your oranges come straight off the tree with no resistance so you know they are ready to be harvested. Photo: Laurel Startzel

Harvest citrus fruits. Some citrus fruits may be ripening this month. In November, umbilical oranges, mandarins, and tangelos should be ready for harvest just before Thanksgiving. Again, make sure to cover your young citrus fruits with a frost cloth if necessary. You will know when your citrus fruits are ripe, mostly by color and taste. Wait for them to turn a rich color, whether it’s yellow, green, or orange. But if you see your limes turning yellow, you’ve waited too long. Also, be aware that your lemons will turn yellow before they are actually ripe. One final tip when it comes to citrus fruits is that ripe citrus fruits should fall straight off the tree with no resistance. If you have to pull on it, it’s not done yet! Learn more about growing citrus fruits in the desert Here.

'Red Hot' Tecoma‘Red Hot’ Tecoma is a productive November bloomer. Photo: Civano growers

Add late fall interest. Although somewhat limited, there are some flowers this month that share their beautiful colors with us and can be incorporated into your landscape. Look out for the last blooms of ‘Red Hot’ tecoma (Tecoma ‘Red Hot’, Zones 9-11). The purple, trumpet-shaped flowers add drama to any room. Autumn sage (Salvia greggii, Zones 7-10) is a woody Salvia that is very hardy and also blooms in November. While varieties of purple look particularly good, the species can be found in many colors, including pink, red, and blue. Fall sage thrives in well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight. For some other late blooming plant picks, read on Here.

If there is one thing that you do in November, be sure to spend some time outdoors to enjoy lower temperatures and beautiful fall scenery. We hope your November is full of healthy and happy plants and a healthy and happy family!

– Sheila Schultz and Laurel Startzel are a mother-daughter duo who founded Dirty Girls Container Gardening in Denver and have continued in business since moving to Tucson, Arizona.

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