Frost, what to do and we have a new agent

Published 6:54 pm Friday, November 3, 2023

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Well, it’s happened, we got our first frost. We are officially in November.

But before we talk about that, I wanted to announce that we have a Livestock Agent as of November 1. He is new to us but has been with Pitt County Extension for several years. If you have a livestock question from starting a pasture to horses and cows to backyard chickens, Andy Burlingham is your guy. You can contact and welcome Andy by calling the Beaufort County office for information and help with all of your livestock questions.

Now, what to do this month. As things begin to slow down there are a few things you should keep in mind. First and foremost, November is the last month to get your soil samples to NCDA & CS for testing. Once we get past Thanksgiving, it is no longer free to test your samples through the Agronomic lab. This is a really good time to get your lime out in the garden or on your lawn according to a soil report. Adding lime to the soil now will ensure your garden is ready to go in the spring. It takes roughly three months for lime to react and change the soil pH. Remember, lime raises pH (more basic) and sulfur lowers pH (more acidic).

In the garden, clean up those warm-season plants to ensure that no disease carries over to next season. There is still time to plant a cover crop of rye, wheat, or barley to prevent erosion, prevent winter annual weeds, and replenish the soil. If you have a fall garden, those collards and kale just got a little sweeter. Usually after a good frost, the bitterness of these leafy veggies is gone.

In the lawn, make certain to not allow those leaves to build up over the grass. Even though the grass is going dormant, the leaves can smother it. Rake the leaves and add them to compost or shred them for use in your beds and garden as mulch. This is a great organic mulch that will build your soil as it decomposes while preventing winter annual weeds from getting out of control. Lastly, make certain to water your lawn every now and then if you have a real sandy soil. The roots of our warm season grasses still need moisture. This is especially important when we are having really cold temperatures. Turn those irrigation systems back to give the grass about ½” per week if we are not getting any measurable precipitation on sandy soils.

November through Christmas is the absolute best time of year to plant woody ornamentals and fruit trees as well. This allows the roots to grow before they must sustain the plants during the growing season. N.C. State research shows the planting during this time will actually put your trees miles ahead of those planted in the spring. This is also a great time to plant new asparagus beds.

There is still a little room in the NC State Extension Master GardenerSM Volunteer-led Growing Garlic class coming up Saturday, November 4. The class will be from 10:00-11:30. Participants will learn how to plant, grow, and cook with garlic. They will also get to take some garlic home to plant in their own gardens. Visit the Beaufort County Master Gardeners’ Facebook page or our Beaufort County Extension website ( for more information. If you are having an issue in your home landscape, give me a call! Until then, Happy Gardening.