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In the Garden : November

November is a busy month in the garden, gathering in the last of the fruit and vegetables and preparing them for storage, be it freezing, bottling, making jam or just dry storing in the garage! 

However, there is plenty still to do in the garden, be it sowing, planting, pruning or just tidying up for the winter. Remember, a neat and tidy garden now will give you a good start next spring!

Let’s take a look at our tasks for November!

 

Man mowing lawn in autumn with ATCO lawnmower

 

Lawns

Winter approaches, temperatures are dropping, is the end of mowing for 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.

 

 

If you have not already begun, then there is some work to do on your lawns. It has been a very 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 and remove the detritus!

Aeration – the next stage. During the summer the surface has 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 into the holes.

It’s all good exercise, but hard work, so it’s recommended 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 fertilizer high in potash and phosphate to encourage root growth.

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!

 

In the Flower Garden

Now is your last chance for planting winter bedding such as wallflowers, myosotis, sweet william’s, pansies/violas and primulas. Plant in beds or containers for winter/spring colour.

 

 

November is often the best time to plant tulips. 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.

Continue to cut back fading flower stalks from perennials. You can also lift and divide overcrowded clumps. The remaining plants will grow more vigorously, and you gain extra plants.

You may have already done it, but if not, lift, dry off and store begonia corms and dahlia tubers.

We talked about sowing sweet peas last month. There is still time to start them if you are sowing in pots in the greenhouse. Do you grow them mainly for their fragrance? Then choose Grandiflora types or for larger flowers go for Spencer varieties.

 

Shrubs & Roses

November is a good month for planting ‘bare root’ shrubs, hedging, or roses, as 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.

 

The Vegetable Plot

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!

 

 

As discussed last month, 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 windowsill or the greenhouse.

 

 

Plant garlic, onions and shallots should be planted outdoors at this time.

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!

 

The Fruit Patch

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.

Wingless winter moth females climbing fruit trees, laying eggs in branches – grease rings around trunks.

 

 

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.

Continually check fruits in storage and remove any showing signs of mould.

 

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!

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