Here we are in November already, and if you are anything like me, you still have work to do in the garden. We will have to hope for a few more nice days to get everything tidied and put away for the winter.
There is still time to plant bulbs, and you might be lucky enough to find some bargains as retailers try to move out the last of their supplies. The sooner you can get the bulbs into the ground, the better. Some bone meal in the planting hole will be helpful.
When I plant bulbs, I do not fiddle with those awkward tools sold for the purpose.
Most tulips, crocus and daffodils look better in clumps, so just dig a wider hole and place several of them in together.
Most of my tulips are several years old, and have reverted to red, and you know my feelings about red tulips, so they need to be replaced.
This is a good time to pay some attention to the compost pile. Give it a good turnover, and dig out some of that wonderful black and crumbly material to spread around the flower and vegetable beds.
Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every summer, I get bonus plants from my pile as the seeds in the vegetable scraps put in there sprout and flourish in all that good, rich material. This year, I had several potato plants, a thriving cherry tomato vine and three acorn squash.
The experts will tell you to cover the pile (or put the lid on your bin), but I find that mine does just fine putting up with snow and ice just as the rest of us have to do. The freezing and thawing cycle that is bad for the perennial beds is just fine for the compost, and seems to hasten breakdown.
Usually in November, I remind people to keep watering trees and shrubs until the ground freezes. This year, that advice is not necessary because Mother Nature is doing a good job of watering without our help.
As you remove garden debris, be sure you collect anything that was diseased or affected by pests. These hardy insects and fungi will lay low all through the winter, getting ready for a new offensive in the spring.
I have a couple of saucers by the back door that I inspect every day, and I always find baby black slugs, wireworms and an assortment of little scurrying things that all meet their end in a bucket of salty water.
Powdery mildew and rust took a toll on the flowerbed that houses my treasured black hollyhocks, and I am going to give up on them and allow the ornamental grasses to spread.
I bought a new hose this summer after leaving the old one out all winter last year. Naturally, it has sprung leaks. Even though I only used it twice this year, I did remember to drain it and take it into the garage for winter storage.
There were a few other tools still outside when I started on my final clean-up. I found a long-lost favorite knife in the compost pile, and these things were cleaned and stored.
And finally, if you are planning to move any perennials, you may just have time to get this accomplished before the snow flies and the ground freezes. Dig as large a root ball as possible, and have the new planting hole ready because the roots need as little time as possible exposed to the air.
They should settle in the new spot for their dormant cycle and be ready for new growth in the spring.
Very optimistically, I brought in pots of bay, thyme, parsley, rosemary and sage, which are living on the kitchen window sill for a while. I know from experience they will not survive all winter, but I will be able to have fresh herbs for a few weeks.
And who knows? This may be the year for a miracle.