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New England Gardening Advice By the Month -November

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The leaves are pretty much gone now, the first frost has come and gone, but we still have 60-70 degree days before cold fronts pass through, bringing the much needed rain for our reservoirs and aquifers across New England. Time to sit back and relax... not yet, but almost!

The name of the game in November is mulch, mulch and more mulch! Last month, we talked about mulching around tender plants and those susceptible to wind and cold damage. A good snowfall early in the season that stays put can usually do the job for us, but here in New England snowfalls have been sporadic and unpredictable. This leaves our plants exposed to the cold temperatures and howling winds and its just a good idea not to take a chance on the weather. Depending on La Nina or El Nino or any other of those ocean temperature patterns, the weather here swings wildly between frigid and temperate, with no guarantee of snow or snowmelt for that matter.

If you have a chipper, pull it out and get chippin' -- leaves, branches, anything organic that can be used as mulch. Just be sure to not use any diseased matter from this year's growth. Mulching it and spreading it out will only increase the chance for it to reappear next year and even spread. Diseased plants should be either burned (if allowed in your area), or left out with refuse to be taken to a recycling center, far away from your garden. This is especially true of vegetables.

Mulching should be done to about a depth of 2-3 inches, no more, no less. Leave a little room around the base of the plant to let a little air in as well. This way, the mulch can break down a little over the winter and you've got a headstart for preparing the garden for next year's growth.

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