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Gardening Jobs for November


By Bryony


November tends to be a month when our attentions are not focused on our outside spaces. With minimal light and often inclement weather the tendency is, like some of the wildlife, to hunker down. The warm autumnal glow of October has often subsided to cool, crisp frosts or drizzly, blustery days when gardening can become a muddy and chilly chore. However, do not despair as there are still plenty of positives to come in preparation for next year.

Tidy the Garden

Around this time of year, it is a widely accepted job to tidy the garden up and get it ready for hibernation through winter, although current thinking is to not tidy it entirely. Remember, the garden is not just our own, it is also home to a great many beneficial animals and insects who will be helped by some winter cover and additional food. Birds will happily utilise seed heads through the winter when other food is scarce, while insects and some species of bees will take refuge in hollow stems of sunflowers and asters. Therefore, leaving the garden to nature when they need it the most is environmentally friendly as well as saving us time and energy. It also helps your garden to build its own ecosystem, lessening the need to spray and treat for unwanted disease or infestations.

That said, there are some parts of the garden you will want to tidy in order to preserve plants for next year. Any decaying growth should be cut back to the base, as should anything which cannot stand without support. Cutting plants back to the base increases air flow which in turn helps to prevent any rot or fungal infections during damp weather.

Tender Plants

Tender plants should be moved now so that they are away from the risk of frost. Remember, citrus plants, dahlias and cannas will not survive even in a mild frost. They need to be lifted and moved into a cool but frost-free area - a conservatory or greenhouse is perfect. Water them very sparingly throughout the rest of winter – once a month is adequate – just enough to prevent them drying out and dying. Meanwhile, semi-hardy plants such as agapanthus can be cut right back and heavily mulched to protect from the winter weather if you wish to leave them in the ground.

The garden borders are at their thinnest for foliage now - this is a good time to check the boundaries and make any necessary repairs. It is far easier to repair a fence now, rather than when the border is in full bloom – it also means that it is in good repair against any winter storms. If your garden is hedging, rather than fencing, then now is also the optimum time to plant up any gaps so that new plants can establish their roots prior to freezing temperatures. With any hedging or young trees planted at this time of year it is worth considering protecting them with tree guards so that any rabbits or deer do not strip the outer dermal layer or bark.

Roses & Bulbs

Check your roses and their fallen leaves for black spot – if they are afflicted then gather them up and discard them rather than adding them to the compost heap as this helps to eradicate disease. This is also the best way to solve Pear Rust and Apple Scab which is also indicated by spots on the leaves and so easily identified and treated with a little effort.

If you have not already planted your spring bulbs, then now is the last chance. Ranunculus and tulips are ideal to plant now as the ground needs to be cold for their best germination. Plant tulips deeply, whilst the germination of ranunculus (with its smaller corm) is aided by being soaked for a minimum of 2 hours before planting (or better still overnight).

If the ground is dry enough then now is the time to give the lawns a mow. Remember to raise the height of blades as this will stimulate the grass to grow a little and thicken up - too short will do more harm than good. If you have not already done so then November is not too late to scarify and aerate the lawns. Scarifying the lawn removes any moss and thatch from the base of the grass to allow for new healthy growth, this can be done with a garden rake and a little elbow grease. Aerating the lawn means to let air into the surface of the lawn to enable drainage down to the roots. This can be done very easily with a garden fork pressed down into the soil and wiggled a little throughout the lawn.

Kitchen Garden

In the kitchen garden there are a couple of jobs to do as well. Any late salad crops will be nipped by frost if grown outside so consider extending their season by covering them with a garden cloche. This will give you home grown salads into the winter. Autumn fruiting raspberry canes can be cut down to the ground now in preparation for next year’s new canes and fruit. Other fruit bushes can be pruned once they lose their leaves and have finished fruiting. The herb garden will also need a little attention at this time of year. Hardy herbs such as Rosemary, Thyme and Chives will be fine through the winter if left, although bring tender herbs like basil and parsley inside if you wish to continue using them through the winter.

The greenhouse will benefit with some extra insulation through the cold months, especially if you plan to over winter seedlings or frost sensitive plants in there. The easiest way to insulate is by using bubble wrap and attach to the frames with tape. In colder parts of the UK a greenhouse heater of some kind will also be beneficial - so clean it and put it in situ now in readiness. Any plastic pots and seed trays should be washed, cleaned and stored away to preserve through the winter ready for reusing in the spring. Warm water and dish soap is perfect. Use the less favourable black plastic pots until they are no longer sturdy enough rather than discarding them and replacing with the more environmentally friendly grey or putty coloured ones.

House Plants

Although technically not a garden job – houseplants have a difficult time as we head into winter as light levels dwindle and central heating can greatly affect the moisture levels. It is worth investing in a plant mister to mist the leaves of your house plants daily whilst only watering once every week or two. Where possible using rainwater (but tap water having been stood for at least an hour will also be fine) will help them during this time. Also, if the weather allows, a ‘holiday’ on a windowsill for a few hours on a bright sunny day will give them a little boost too.

Lastly, a lovely job to do this month is to sit down, relax after all your hard gardening work and look through our catalogues or website to start planning the garden for next year.

Happy gardening Haylofters!

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