What to do in the garden in November

Timely Tips

In the flower garden

There’s still time to plant daffodil bulbs and other spring flowering bulbs for a magnificent start to next years display.

Plant tulip bulbs now to prevent Tulip Fire infection.

Plant up a terracotta pot of hyacinth bulbs for a simple but stunning display next spring.

Now is the ideal time to plant a magnolia tree for a beautiful spring display.

Gather up fallen leaves from around the base of rose bushes which suffered from blackspot or rust this summer, to reduce the chance of infection next year.

Continue to lift dahlia tubers, begonias and gladiolus corms to store dry over the winter months. Remove the dead foliage before storing.

Cut back the yellowing foliage of herbaceous perennials, and lift and divide overcrowded clumps to maintain their vigour.

Before the birds eat them all, cut a few stems of holly with berries for making Christmas garlands. Stand them in a bucket of water in a sheltered spot where our feathered friends can’t take them.

Start to plant bare-root roses – they can be planted any time between now and March.

Plant heathers, grasses and trailing ivy in pots for winter colour.

Plant out spring bedding displays of pansies, violas and primulas.

In the vegetable garden

Lift parsnips after the first frosts when their flavour will have sweetened.

Divide mature clumps of rhubarb once they are dormant.

Now is a great time to prepare a perennial vegetable bed which can be planted up with rhubarb crowns and asparagus crowns.

Prepare a bed for planting autumn garlic. Improve heavy soils with organic matter before planting.

Now is an ideal time to invest in mushroom kits. It’s surprisingly easy to grow your own mushrooms.

Place a scaffold plank on the ground along the main access route into the plot to allow access without compacting the soil as you walk across it.

If you have access to fresh manure, now is the time to spread it across the surface of your vegetable beds to rot down over winter.

Build a raised bed to take the bending out of vegetable growing.

Stake top-heavy brassicas and draw up some soil around the base of the stem to prevent wind rocking the plant and causing damage to the roots.

In the fruit garden

Now is the ideal time to plant currant bushes whilst they are dormant.

Plant raspberry canes now for a delicious home grown crop.

Tidy up your strawberry plants – cut off any dead leaves and remove runners.

Prune pear and apple trees anytime between now and February. But don’t be tempted to prune your plum trees now as they will be susceptible to the silver leaf fungus – wait until midsummer.

Apply glue bands or greasebands to the trunks of fruit trees to prevent wingless female winter moths climbing the trunks and laying their eggs in the branches.

Remove the top netting from fruit cages as heavy snow in winter can make it sag.

Check fruits in storage and promptly remove any showing signs of disease or rotting.

In the greenhouse

Replace damaged glass before the worst of the winter weather sets in.

Insulate the greenhouse with sheets of bubble wrap attached to the inside of the frame, to reduce heat loss.

Ventilate the greenhouse after watering or when paraffin heaters are used at night.

Clean out the greenhouse thoroughly. Wash the glass, the floor and the staging with horticultural disinfectant to kill any overwintering pests and diseases.

Install solar lights in the greenhouse so that you can still get out there on dark winter evenings to check your plants.

Don’t forget to ventilate the greenhouse, particularly after watering and when paraffin heaters are used at night.

As the winter approaches, take special care to not to over water plants that remain in active growth. Little and often is the key.

Looking after your lawn

If you haven’t already aerated your lawn, there’s still time to do it before winter sets in. You can use either a lawn aerator or simply insert a garden fork at regular intervals and lean it back slightly to let air in.

Continue to clear fallen leaves off the lawn to keep it healthy.

Remember to set your lawn mower to a higher cut-height for winter.

Now your beds are clear, try edging your lawn. Lawn edging creates a neat and tidy appearance and makes maintenance easier.

Try gathering your leaves on to the lawn and mow them with a rotary mower that has a collection box on the back. They will rot down quicker in your compost bins.

Other jobs about the garden

Reuse spent compost from annual container displays as a mulch on the garden.

Create compost bins for collecting fallen leaves and dead plant material.

Build a cold frame to protect young plants from extreme winter weather.

Collect leaves up for making leaf mould as a soil conditioner. Oak, Alder and Hornbeam will rot down in a year but beech, sycamore, horse chestnut and sweet chestnut will take a couple of years to compost.

Sweep up debris and fallen leaves that harbour overwintering fungal spores and hiding places for slugs and snails.

Start preparing a bonfire with twigs and prunings – cover them with plastic so they remain dry for better burning later. (Make sure you check for hedgehogs before lighting your bonfire)

Net ponds to prevent leaves falling into them. If you need to clear pond weed lay it next to the pond for a day to allow wildlife to escape back to the water.

Clean out water butts and let the autumn rains refill them. Install a new waterbutt ready for next year.

If the soil is dry, give your garden one last good watering before the ground freezes.

Use the last of the dry weather to paint sheds and fences with preservative before the winter arrives.

Check stored onions and garlic and remove any rotting bulbs immediately. The neck of the bulb is usually the first area to rot. Try using onion bags to improve air flow.

Check stored potatoes and remove any that are rotting. Use Hessian sacks to store your potatoes as this will allow the crop to breathe.

Make time to give evergreen hedges a final trim before the bad weather sets in, so they look neat and tidy for the winter.

Once plants are dormant, it is a good time to lift and relocate any plant that you want to move.

Raise pots off the ground for the winter by using bricks or ‘pot feet’, to prevent waterlogging.

Invest in bird baths and bird feeders this autumn. Birds are gardeners friends and will keep pest numbers down.

From your armchair

Take stock of this years garden and make a few notes or sketches for next spring – a digital camera has become an invaluable garden companion – taking snapshots of where herbaceous plants are located before they die back so you don’t damage their roots during a winter dig, capturing images of borders you’d like to replicate at home or simply just a memory jog so you remember which areas of the garden look like they need improving. Why not keep a photo diary of your garden with pictures taken each week? Reflect on what grew well, what failed miserably, and what changes you will make next year.

Reference: Thompson & Morgan