November In The Garden: Regional To-Do List For The Upper Midwest

Child In Backyard Raking Leaves
november midwest
(Image credit: Mkovalevskaya)

Chores begin to wind down in November for the upper Midwest gardener, but there are still things to do. To ensure your garden and yard are ready for winter and prepared to grow healthy and strong in spring, put these November gardening tasks on your list in Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa. 

Your Regional To-Do List

Most of the chores for upper Midwest gardens at this time of year are maintenance, cleanup, and preparation for winter.

  • Keep pulling out those weeds until you can’t anymore. This will make spring easier.
  • Continue watering any new plants, perennials, shrubs, or trees you put in this fall. Water until the ground freezes, but don’t let the soil get waterlogged.
  • Rake the leaves and give the lawn one last cut.
  • Keep some plants standing for the winter, those that provide seeds and cover for wildlife or that have good visual interest under a snowfall.
  • Cut back and clean up spent vegetable plants and perennials with no winter use.
  • Turn over the vegetable patch soil and add compost.
  • Clean up under fruit trees and prune away any diseased branches.
  • Cover newer or tender perennials and bulbs with straw or mulch.
  • Clean, dry, and store garden tools.
  • Review the year’s gardening and plan for next year.

Can You Still Plant or Harvest in Midwest Gardens?

November in the garden in these states is pretty cold and dormant, but you can still harvest and maybe even plant. You may have winter squashes still ready to harvest. Pick them when the vines have started to die back but before you have a deep frost.

Depending on where you are in the region, you may still be able to plant perennials in November. Watch for frost, though, and water until the ground freezes. You can continue to plant tulip bulbs until the ground freezes. In the southern areas of the upper Midwest, you may still be able to get some garlic in the ground as well.

November is a time of preparing for winter. If you garden in the upper Midwest states, use this as a time to get ready for the colder months and to make sure your plants will be ready to go in spring.

Mary Ellen Ellis

Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.