UC Master Gardeners, Santa Clara County, CA
University of California
UC Master Gardeners, Santa Clara County, CA

November Tips

Monthly tips are categorized by To-Dos, What to Plant, or Pests and Diseases. Scroll through the list to see items in each category. Also, refer to our list of tips useful for any month.

All data grouped by category by Months applicable : November

1. To-do

  • Autumn Leaves - To Rake or Not to Rake -

    Fallen autumn leaves from healthy trees can provide valuable mulch, with the return of nutrients to the tree as the leaves slowly decompose. If you don’t like the look, you can add the leaves to the compost pile and later spread the compost under the tree. Diseased leaves should be put out with yard waste recycling to avoid spreading disease in your garden.

    - November
  • Bone Meal for Bulbs? -

    Bone meal has traditionally been used as a phosphorus source for flower bulbs, but you may want to reconsider. If your soil is healthy, you may not need it and you may be better off with a balanced fertilizer designed for bulbs or even nothing at all. The nutrient content of commercial bone meal is lower than in the past due to the cleaning process, and the bone smell may attract raccoons or dogs to dig up the bulbs.

    - November
  • Persimmon Harvesting -

    Hachiya PersimmonsHarvest persimmons. Fuyu persimmons are ready to harvest when they have their full orange color and are still slightly firm to the touch. Hachiya persimmons (with the pointy ends) must be soft and have translucent skin. If you eat an unripe Hachiya variety, you will gain a new understanding of the word “astringent”! Cut them off close to the fruit to avoid damage to the branch from yanking them off. The UC Master Gardeners of Solano County have a nice blog posting about Persimmons.

    - October, November
  • Poisonous Plants List -

    As we approach the holidays, there are a lot of questions on poisonous plants. Fortunately, many of these plants have a very bitter taste that limits the amount of the plant eaten.

    Poinsettia and mistletoe should be kept away from curious children, but the list includes other flowers and plants such as azaleas, calla lily, carnation, daffodil, foxglove, hydrangeas, iris, lantana, narcissus, poppy, sweet pea and tulips.

    Different parts of the plant may be toxic. Consult the UC Poison Plant web page for detailed information.

    - November, December
  • Harvesting Sweet Potatoes -

    Hopefully the timing of your sweet potato harvest will work out for Thanksgiving dinner! They are usually ready 90-100 days after planting, when the end leaves start to yellow. You can dig down a little to see if the potatoes are large enough, but dig carefully or use your hands to avoid accidentally cutting the potatoes. If you plan to store them, cure them in a warm, humid environment for a couple weeks.

    - November
  • Growing Vegetables in Containers -

    Growing Vegetables in ContainersContainer grown vegetables can be decorative as well as good to eat. Almost any vegetable can be grown in a container if given the proper care. Eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, carrots, cucumbers and herbs do well. Use our Vegetable Planting Chart to decide when to plant.

    One of the biggest problems is that containers dry out very fast and nutrients wash away. Both are solvable. Do not use clay pots, which dry out quickly. Plastic, composite or wooden half-barrels are good, but avoid dark colors that can absorb heat. Vegetables like a roomy container.

    There must be drainage holes in the bottom but it is not recommended that you put pebbles or broken crockery in the bottom. Use a good commercial potting mix, not planter or planting mix. Group the containers together so they will shade one another.

    The hot summer sun can heat the soil to unhealthy levels. Water whenever the soil is dry. You can test by digging your fingers into the dirt or using an inexpensive moisture meter. You may have to water more than once a day. A simple drip system is easy to install and will make your container garden almost foolproof. Fertilize every week with a water-soluble fertilizer.

    - February, March, April, October, November
  • Poison Oak -

    Poison oak is a California native plant that provides shelter and food for many native birds and other creatures. The downside is that at least 75% of us develop allergic contact dermatitis to the plant. Unwanted poison oak can be pulled or dug up by allergy-resistant friends, remove plants in early spring or late fall when the soil is moist and it is easier to dislodge rootstocks.

    A complete list of management options, including herbicide control, is contained in the UC Pest Note on Poison Oak. Under no circumstances should poison oak be burned.

    - February, March, April, November
  • Frost Dates -

    The first and last frost dates for Santa Clara County are November 15 and March 15. These are important—but approximate—dates for gardeners to remember.

    • First frost date—this is the earliest date you should expect frost to occur. If you have plants that need to be brought in for the winter, or crops you need to pick before frost, this date will be important to you.
    • Last frost date—after this date, you wouldn't expect any more frosts. It's generally used as a milestone when planting outdoors, or pruning frost sensitive plants (such as citrus where you don't want to stimulate delicate new growth until danger of frost is past).

     

     Also see: Frost—Avoidance and Dealing with Damage

    - January, February, March, November, December
  • Harvest Kiwis -

    Pick kiwis in late fall while is still hard like an avocado, softening at room temperature. Watch the vine for signs of ripeness. A few fruit will turn soft or the skin color goes from greenish to full brown. Fruit can be left on the vine after leaves have fallen. You can store in the refrigerator for up to 4 months or at room temperature for about 2 weeks. More details about Kiwifruit Culture is provided by the California Rare Fruit Growers.

    - November
  • Paint Fruit Trees to Prevent Sunburn -

    After deciduous fruit trees have dropped their leaves, paint tree trunks with white latex paint diluted 1:1 with water to prevent sunburn. Preventing sunburn helps trees resist invasion by shot hole borers, which are tiny beetles that boreholes and lay eggs in the cambium layer of the tree. When the eggs hatch, young larvae feed and excavate tunnel galleries in the wood. For more information about identification and control see UC Pest Note on Shothole Borer.

    - November, December
  • Garden Maintenance Items in the Fall -

    Remove or replace spent annuals. Trim woody or overgrown perennials. Trim diseased leaves from roses, camellias, rhododendrons, and azaleas. Discard in trash. Many insects and diseases over winter in plant debris so remove the yard waste from under plants. If you have oak trees, pines or junipers leave the fallen litter under these trees because it protects the roots.

    - October, November

2. What to plant

  • Going Native -

    Native shrubs, trees, and flowers are well-adapted to our climate and soil, and support native butterflies and bees and other wildlife. They are drought-tolerant once they are established, but need adequate water for the first year or two to establish a strong root system that will help nourish the plant for years to come. Planting them in the fall gives them time to settle in before being hit by the heat of the summer sun. Consult Water Wise Plants and the California Native Plant Society for more information.

    - October, November
  • Planting Onions -

    Red onionGrowing your own onions can be rewarding. According to our Onion Cultivation Tips, plants started from seed in September should be ready to transplant in 50-60 days, so plan for November-December for planting at home.

    The UC Davis Vegetable Research and Information Center also has information about Growing Onions.

    The image shows a 3+ pound onion harvested in June 2016 at our Berger Edibles Garden.

    - November, December
  • Vegetable Planting Chart -

    Wondering what vegetables can be planted now? To get the best success—whether planting from seed or transplants—refer to our Santa Clara County Vegetable Planting Chart. It's based on our own garden experiences.

    - February, March, May, June, July, August, November, Any month
  • Garlic Planting -

    Plant individual cloves of garlic now and they will grow into full heads by next spring. Choose the largest cloves and leave the natural papery wrappers on them. Plant them in moist, well-drained soil in a sunny location with the pointy tips up, about one inch deep. Space cloves about four inches apart to leave room for large heads to develop.

    The UCCE Master Gardeners of Napa County have more information about Growing Garlic.

    - November
  • Flower Bulb Planting -

    Plant in rich, well draining soil.  Soil that has grown annuals or vegetables should be good for bulbs.

    Dig a hole three times as deep as the bulb's diameter. Mix a tablespoon of fertilizer high in phosphorus and potassium into the bottom of each hole, insert the bulb with the stem end on top and then cover with soil. Soak the area thoroughly.

    - November
  • Plant Ornamental Flowers, Bushes and Trees -

    If you have purchased ornamental flowers, bushes, or trees and you haven’t gotten them into the ground yet, do it soon. The roots will have a much better chance of surviving and growing if the ground isn’t too cold. Developing a healthy root system early in the life of a plant is important for long-term success.

    - November
  • California Poppies -

    California poppy

    The California poppy, seen on hillsides in late winter through early spring, can be grown in your own yard.

    It can re-grow from a taproot or reseed itself rapidly throughout your garden and lawn, so consider whether this would be acceptable. If it is, seeds can be scattered now or with initial rains for vibrant color in a couple months.

    - November

3. Pests and Diseases

  • Termites -

    TermitesTermites are very common in Santa Clara Valley.  The first sign of infestation may be the presence of winged forms or fecal pellets pushed out of the infested wood. 

    See the UC Pest Note on Termites to identify which type is present and the methods of control. Learn all you can before calling in the professionals.

    - April, November
  • Cabbageworms -

    Examine your cabbage and broccoli plants for imported cabbageworms. Larvae are green and very hairy, with an almost velvet-like appearance. Handpick the worms. The adult cabbage butterfly is white with one to four black spots on the wings; they are often seen fluttering around the fields. Whitish, rocket-shaped eggs are laid singly on the undersides of leaves. The cabbageworm is active throughout the year in California. Use row covers or screening to keep the adults out of your vegetables. For more information see UC Pest Note on Imported Cabbageworm.

    - October, November, December
  • Peach Leaf Curl Preventive Care -

    If you had a serious problem this past year with peach leaf curl, where the leaves became red and distorted, spray the tree with a fungicide once all the leaves have fallen (late November, early December).

    Generally a single early treatment when the tree is dormant is effective, although in areas of high rainfall or during a particularly wet winter, it might be advisable to apply a second spray late in the dormant season, preferably as flower buds begin to swell but before green leaf tips are first visible.

    Use a fixed copper spray, as detailed in UC Pest Note on Peach Leaf Curl

    - January, November, December
  • Citrus Bud Mite - Leave It Alone -

    Lemon affected by citrus bud miteHave you ever seen weirdly shaped lemons or oranges that appear to have 'fingers'? This condition is caused by the Citrus Bud Mite. 

    It attacks newly forming flowers and fruits. The mite is only visible with a magnifying glass and has a elongated yellow body with four legs that appear to come out of its head. The mites feed inside the buds, killing them or causing a rosette-like growth of the subsequent foliage and distortion of flowers and fruit. The problem is usually limited to just a few fruit on the tree.

    Previously recommended oil sprays have not been proved effective. This is one of those pests that is best left alone. The oddly-shaped fruit is edible.

    For more information see UC Pest Note on Citrus Bud Mite.

    - November
  • Sooty Mold -

    Aphids, scale, mealybug and whitefly all excrete sticky honeydew that is colonized by sooty mold fungi. By itself, the fungi cannot kill the plant but it can coat the leaves to the extent that sunlight is prevented from reaching the leaf surface. A strong stream of water will wash the mold off leaves. The mold can be washed off fruit with mild soap and water. See UC Pest Note on Sooty Mold for more information.

    Ants protect the sucking insects from their predators in order to eat the honeydew. Keep ants out of trees and away from honeydew-producing insects by applying a sticky compound such as Tanglefoot on a tape wrapped around the trunk.

    Trim tree limbs touching buildings, fences or other access points as well. Baits such as ant stakes placed under trees and shrubs may help reduce ant foraging in some cases.

    For ant information, see the UC IPM Pest Note on Ants.

    - August, September, October, November
  • Limes with Stylar End Rot -

    Lime with stylar end rotUsually affects Persian and Bearss limes but can be on other limes and lemons. Depressed areas are firm or leathery and dry. It starts out looking like a water soaked, whitish-to-drab sunken patch at the base of the stylar tip (end) and can cover 1/4 to 1/2 of the fruit. Inside tissues at stylar end break down and become pinkish or brownish.

    You can pick before mature to cut losses. Extremely high temperatures can bring it on.

    - November, December
  • White Mold on Lettuce and Brussels Sprouts -

    White mold is a distinctive disease that most often affects stems and foliage at the base of cole crops* and lettuce plants. Affected tissue develops a soft, watery rot and white, cottony mycelium forms on the surface. Plants may wilt if stems are girdled by the decay. As affected tissue dries up, it turns yellow to white, and hard black sclerotia form on the surface or inside the dead stems. Get more information in the UC Pest Note on White Mold.

    * Cole crops include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, and kohlrabi

    - November, December

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