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It’s hard to believe that November and the subsequent winter is galloping up on us! But it’s not time yet for those fireside slippers! Although October was busy, there is still plenty to do - unless you have already stored all the remaining fruit and vegetables and prepared your garden for those winter months.
Let’s take a look at our task list for our November garden!
Winter approaches and temperatures are dropping. Is the end of mowing for the season?
Well, not necessarily, as if the weather is mild, you can continue, particularly in southern areas. However, raise the mower blades height to around 1.5ins and delay mowing if frost is forecast.
Have you already started, or maybe even finished your work to get your lawns ready for winter?
Not started yet? Then you are going to be busy!
If you have not already begun then there is some work to do on your lawns. Like last year, it was a stressful summer for lawn grass and though the colour may have returned, there are bare patches and a ‘thatch’ of dead grass under the healthy areas.
Scarifying - so time to get out with a ‘spring tine’ rake, raking briskly to remove the detritus!
Aeration – the next stage. During the summer the turf surface will have become compacted, so using a garden fork, press down into the turf across the lawn spacing the holes around 4” apart.
Top dressing – you can buy this from your local garden centre, but equally, you could use your own composted material. Just sprinkle this across the surface and brush it in to the holes.
It’s all good exercise, but hard work, so I recommend to mark a patch to do each day.
Injuries are to be avoided! Should you have a large lawn, you might want to investigate hiring a machine to do the work!
Rake up fallen leaves and add them to the compost heap.
It’s too late now to sow grass seed this year but you can still lay turf during mild spells.
You can also still use specific autumn lawn fertiliser high in potash and phosphate to encourage root growth early in the month.
Remove any mushrooms or toadstools that appear in the lawn in the autumn.
Don’t walk on lawns in frosty weather, it can damage the grass!
Early in the month there is still time to plant winter bedding such as wallflowers, myosotis, sweet williams, pansies/violas and primulas. Plant in beds or containers for winter/spring colour.
If you haven’t planted your tulips, don’t worry, November is often the best time to plant them. There is plenty of choice in heights, colours, flower types and maturity and some good bargains in garden centres.
Lilies too can be planted in containers.
You may have already done it, but if not, lift, dry off and store dahlia tubers and begonia corms.
Cutting back fading flower stalks from perennials is an important task. You can also lift and divide overcrowded clumps. The remaining plants will grow more vigorously and you gain extra plants for planting elsewhere
There is still time to start sweet peas if you are sowing in pots in the greenhouse. Do you grow them mainly for their fragrance? Then choose grandiflora types. For larger flowers go for Spencer varieties.
There are vegetables you can still sow this month, such as broad beans.
Aquadulce Claudia is a good hardy performer, or perhaps a dwarf variety like ‘The Sutton’ if you have an exposed garden. Winter-hardy peas too are an option using varieties like Kelvedon Wonder.
Winter hardy spring onions are another possibility to sow outside.
Salad leaves such as winter lettuce, spinach or mustard can be produced on a well-lit window sill or the greenhouse.
Plant garlic, onions and shallots - these should be planted outdoors at this time.
Have you netted your brassica patch? If not, it may be a good idea to protect plants from foraging wood pigeons as alternative food becomes less available for them!
Thinking of having your own asparagus bed? Now’s the time to prepare the ground whilst not too wet.
Harvest brassicas, carrots and other vegetables as required. Remember parsnips are always sweeter after the first frosts!
Continually check fruits in storage and remove any showing signs of mould.
It’s planting time for ‘Bare root’ fruit trees such as apple, pear, cherry and plum, together with bush fruit such as blackberry, gooseberry and raspberry. They are the most cost effective way of starting or increasing your fruit patch.
Begin pruning apple and pear trees.
Rhubarb plants becoming old and cropping less? As they become dormant for the winter, split them up and replant the healthiest options.
If you have not already attended to it, tidy up the strawberry patch, removing runners and dead leaves.
Wingless winter moth females climbing fruit trees and laying eggs in branches will mean trouble next spring. Use greased rings from your local garden centre around trunks.
November is a good month for planting ‘bare root’ shrubs, hedging, or roses. They are considerably cheaper than container-grown plants. The soil is still warm and easier to keep moist. Air temperatures are dropping so the semi-dormant plants develop good root systems yet shoot growth is restricted until the better weather in spring.
Shrubs and small trees that lose their leaves at this time of year can be pruned and roses shoots can be cut back by a third to reduce ‘wind rock’ in the winter. This can loosen the roots and result in poor growth.
So there’s plenty to do in your November garden, but find the time to take a walk around with your notebook to assess your gardening year. Successes, failures, plants needing replacing or perhaps a winter project to get under way?
One thing about being a gardener, we all have to be optimists – and there’s always next year!