November is the saving month. Time to save dahlias, fallen leaves, tender plants with a mulch around the roots and seeds for planting in the spring. You also may still save money by buying trees, shrubs and perennials before nurseries and garden centers close out for the year.
We need more healthy plants and less garbage at the city dump. Even the smallest yard can accommodate a compost pile this month. Just by piling green material such as weeds and grass clippings with brown material such as leaves and stems, you can create compost. Pile it up, let it rot, spread it around in the spring.
Too much woody material such as corn stalks or cedar branches may not be able to break down quickly enough to use in the spring. Chop or mow large pieces into smaller chunks in order to hurry the decaying process.
Although it is tempting to toss all kitchen garbage into the compost pile, do not use meat scraps or anything with oil, butter or fish remains in a compost pile. Add plenty of green grass clippings to heat up the pile and discourage rodents.
Small weeds such as shot weed, moss, clover, dandelion and other easy-to-control invaders can go right into the compost pile. They will add minerals and nitrogen as they decay. Avoid adding invasive weeds with aggressive roots such as horsetail, morning glory or bind weed. These super weeds may survive the heat of a compost pile and then lie dormant until you spread them about the garden in the form of a mulch.
Compost needs moisture to keep the rotting process going, but too much rain can leach away the good stuff. Use a tarp to partially cover your compost pile in the winter. The right amount of moisture means the pile should be damp, but not soaked. Think about the consistency of a damp sponge. Not dry, but not dripping with water either.
At least once this month collect the green grass clippings even though you have been taught that we should all “grass cycle” or leave the grass clippings on the lawn.
Fall rains can turn any grassy clumps left over from mowing into light blocking lumps that can leave bare spots on the lawn. Collecting the clippings in the fall will not only help activate your compost, but also will allow more winter light to reach the lawn.
Look around the landscape now and determine where you will use the finished compost in the spring. If your compost is bulky and ugly, dig a trench and layer in the partially decomposed compost, then plant tomatoes and other veggies alongside the compost trench. Shovel compost over the roots of roses, delphiniums or other hungry plants. You can also screen your compost and use it to improve the lawn.