The American Organic Gardener's November To-Do List

Everything that needs to be done in the dirt this month, wherever you live.

November 1, 2017
november in the garden
Chiara Benelli/getty

Here's your October gardening guide for North America's USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 3-10. (Did you know that the USDA Hardiness Zones have changed?)

If you don’t know what USDA Plant Hardiness Zone you live in, check the map here to find out.

We've left off zones 1–2 (far-north Alaska) and zones 11–13 (small section of the Florida Keys, the Pacific coast between L.A. and Mexico, and Hawaii) since zones 3–10 cover 99 percent or more of the gardeners in the U.S.

(Whether you're starting your first garden or switching to organic, Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening has all the answers and advice you need—get your copy today!)

cardinals in winter
Cindy Kendall/getty
Zone 3
  • If rainfall has been light, deeply water trees and shrubs before the ground freezes.
  • To successfully overwinter half-hardy plants (such as azaleas and rhododendrons), surround them with a wire cage and cover them with a thick layer of dry leaves.
  • Force a few bulbs for indoor winter color; plant half now and half in 2 weeks for a longer show.
  • Check stored tubers, bulbs, potatoes, onions, and garlic for spoilage and softness.
  • Winterize all power tools before storing.
  • Sharpen, clean, and repair hand tools before storing them.
  • Clean birdhouses and fill bird feeders.

Related: Autumn Yard Work Simplified

pine tree covered in snow
Zone 4

Related: Turn Your Backyard Into A Bird Paradise This Fall

sprouted garlic before planting garlic
Copit/ Getty
Zone 5
  • Plant garlic cloves and shallots 2 inches deep and 4 inches apart; mulch with 6 inches of straw or shredded leaves.
  • Dig up remaining root crops.
  • Still time to haul in a pot of parsley: Pot it, water well, and set in a bright window.
  • Don't remove chrysanthemum foliage—leave it to protect the crown.
  • Cut back other perennials (except spring bloomers, roses, and grasses) to a few inches above soil level.
  • Prune tea roses back to 8 to 12 inches high, mound compost around the bud union, then cover with a rose cone.
  • Dig the hole for planting live Christmas trees now—before the soil freezes.
planting bulbs
Zone 6
  • Finish cleanup—gather leaves for the compost pile or for winter mulch on beds.
  • Don't miss your last chance to plant spring-blooming bulbs, such as daffodils and tulips.
  • Continue to thin lettuce and spinach.
  • Mulch crops you want to overwinter with a thick layer of straw.
  • Harvest frost-sweetened Brussels sprouts, carrots, parsnips, cabbage, and kale.
  • Don't cut back ornamental grasses; they add beauty to the landscape and provide shelter for overwintering beneficials and wildlife.
  • Cut back other perennials (except spring bloomers, roses, and mums) to a few inches above soil level.

Related: Everything You Need To Know Now About Preparing Your Garden For Winter

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hilling leeks
Patrick Montero
Zone 7
  • Cover lettuce, chard, spinach, sorrel, chives, and parsley with floating row covers, before the first hard freeze.
  • Continue to plant trees and shrubs.
  • Set out new strawberries or move rooted runners early this month.
  • Sow poppy seeds now for flowers next May.
  • Gather leaves to add to the compost pile or to shred and use as winter mulch.
  • Pot up a clump of mint, let it freeze one time, then bring it indoors for snipping throughout the winter.
  • Feed leeks, then hill up soil around them to begin the blanching process.

Related: Use Row Covers To Extend Your Season

harvested eggplants
Zone 8
  • Fruit trees will arrive at nurseries for fall planting; shop early for the best selection.
  • Harvest cold-sensitive veggies—such as tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers—that you planted in July.
  • Under row covers, plant cool-loving crops, such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, broccoli, peas, carrots, kale, radishes, mustard, turnips, beets, and spinach.
  • Plant more cilantro, parsley, and fennel.
  • Plant strawberries (Chandler, Sweet Charlie, and Sequoia) so plants will be established by spring.
  • Sow seeds of poppies, larkspur, and delphiniums for early spring color.

handful of flower seeds
Rebecca Johnson/getty
Zone 9
  • Pull up tomato plants, roots and all, to hang in a protected place; pick fruits as they ripen.
  • Plant prechilled spring-flowering bulbs early this month.
  • Plant garlic, shallots, fava beans, onion sets, and leeks.
  • Harvest Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, turnips, collards, and kale after frost sweetens their flavor.
  • Cover spinach and lettuce with floating row covers to protect them from frost.
  • Broadcast wildflower seed, then lightly rake it in, for a bright spring show.
  • Spread compost or composted manure around citrus trees to encourage spring growth and blossoming.

Related: 7 Secrets For A High-Yield Vegetable Garden, Even If You're Short On Space

growing seedlings
Thanatham Piriyakarnjanakul/EyeEm/Getty
Zone 10
  • See that the garden receives at least an inch of water a week (from either rainfall or you).
  • If a freeze is predicted, soak the ground (not the plants), then cover everything with straw, row covers, or protective material.
  • Plant successive runs of tender, fast-growing greens, such as cilantro and chervil.
  • Harvest beans, peas, lettuce, squashes, carrots, cucumbers, early melons, and kale.
  • Continue to harvest ripening fruit; clean up unusable fruits that fall to prevent disease.
  • Continue to start tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant, but be prepared to protect tender seedlings from cold.
  • Cut back raspberries.
  • Feed roses some low-nitrogen, organic fertilizer.
  • Plant callas, gladioli, and dahlias for spring and summer bloom.