What to do in the garden in November

November is a busy month in the garden. Time spent now in pruning, tidying and protecting your plants and trees will pay dividends in the spring. Weeding in November prevents roots thickening and spreading over the winter months, making them a nuisance when the temperature warms up in March. So as soon as ground becomes clear, dig over the soil and spread manure. This is also a good time to double dig areas of ground where total replanting or a new vegetable garden is being planned or poor/heavy soil is preventing growth.
Just remove the top layer to form a shallow trench and then dig over the soil at the bottom of the trench adding compost. Then repeat, filling the first trench with the top soil from the second; the soil from the first trench then fills in the last trench.
Tidy and prune straggly shrubs, hedges and lawn edges. However, do not cut down your perennial plants too much as they provide valuable seed heads for the birds to eat and cover for small creatures during the winter. Protect overwintering summer plants (e.g. geraniums) with fleece or bring them into the house. Clear containers and tubs of any remaining bedding plants and plant with winter pansies or spring bulbs. Winter hanging baskets and window boxes should also be planted now using varieties such as heathers and primroses. If you have a pond place a net over it to catch any falling leaves. Clear leaves from beds and lawns and place them in a compost bin if you have one. If you have a greenhouse, clean and air it thoroughly before closing or insulating it for winter use.
November is a good month to work on fruit bushes and trees. Trim back and cut away any dead stalks in blackberry bushes. Weed strawberry beds thoroughly and clear the area around the summer’s young suckers. Summer fruiting raspberries need to have last year’s wood trimmed out while autumn fruiting varieties should be pruned back to a foot or so as they will fruit on the new wood produced next year. Ensure young trees are well-supported with stakes to prevent damage by strong winter winds.
If you have a vegetable plot, now is the time to harvest your cabbage and cauliflower. Leeks and Brussel Sprouts should also be ready for lifting as should your turnips, swedes and spinach. Late carrots should be raised and stored in sand; wooden boxes are perfect for this so ask your local wine merchant for a wine crate. Check any vegetables already in store for rot, particularly potatoes which should be stored away from light at around 5◦c and in hessian bags (never plastic) or in paper sacks with the top left open.
November is the month to plant garlic. If the soil is heavy or has a tendency to hold water, plant each clove on top of a layer of sand and cover it with light compost. Early broad beans and hardy peas can also be sown in November.
Finally, enjoy November and plan for those sunnier days!
This is an article written by Anthony F. Milne BSc (Hort) MBA who is a highly qualified professional horticulturalist; Tony has worked in the UK garden industry for over 16 years. His experience is diverse and includes commercial growing, research, garden centre retailing and mail order.

Nov 5, 2009

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