Gardening Advice and Helpful Tips
Plant Area Manager
Your Garden in November...
It may be getting colder but there’s a lot more to do in the garden than just sweeping leaves. Will Clark shares his November checklist.
November can be an unpredictable month on the weather front. Keep a close eye on the latest forecasts and invest in some horticultural fleece to avoid frost damage to your tender shrubs and evergreen perennials. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!
Tender plants will need protecting from frost, gales and freezing rains. Move plants into the greenhouse, or into a sheltered spot, but if you can’t, it is worth wrapping plants or pots. In wet weather, raise pots up off the ground on ‘feet’ or similar to keep the bottom of the pot out of the water and prevent compost freezing.
Do your bit for wild birds and animals, even if all you can do is put out fresh food and water for them every day. If you have the space, leave a quiet area of your plot to grow slightly wild with a pile of logs and maybe some straw, to provide a shelter for animals and insects.
Another tip to help wildlife is to leave some of the more attractive seed heads intact, rather than cutting them back, as these can provide food and shelter for birds, as well as looking quite pretty when covered in frost.
Broad beans, hardier varieties of spring onions and the first early peas can be sown now. Remember to cover with fleece if there’s a frost.
November’s a good time to plant tulip bulbs, whether in the ground, pots or containers. Avoid any that show signs of decay or damage, and plant three times to the depth of the bulb. If the soil is heavy, add grit for drainage as bulbs don’t like to sit in water.
While you still have time get some winter bedding in. Bellis, violas and primroses are some of my favourites. Try adding some Christmas roses (Hellebore) to make your pots and borders feel very festive for Christmas.
November is a great time to plant bare-root fruit trees which are dormant when planted but then have the full season to grown when the temperatures rise in spring. Trees such as apple, pear, cherry and plum can be planted now, along with blackberry, raspberry and gooseberry.
By this time of year, you’ll find the majority of our herbaceous perennials have begun to die back. As this happens, a good chop back is needed to just above ground level.
A good spread of mulch over the crowns will not only look tidy but will also provide winter protection, supress weed growth and act as a soil improver when it breaks down.
Plant of the month
Skimmias are low maintenance, neat, slow-growing evergreen shrubs for a border in partial to deeper shade. The spring flowers are followed by red or white berries on female plants, giving an additional autumn interest to borders or containers for winter.
October on the Veg Plot...
October is a great month to get ahead in the veg patch, writes Ruth McNamee.
Choose a sunny sheltered spot to sow broad beans. The variety Aquadulce Claudia does well from autumn sowing. Sow a double row with seeds 20cm apart. These plants should germinate, stand over winter and quickly establish when the weather warms. The crop can be enjoyed a couple of weeks earlier than spring sown seeds.
You can start to plant out garlic this month 15cm apart in rows 30cm apart. This can be left to next month if preferred. And there is still time to plant out overwintering onions. Make a shallow drill and place the sets pointy end up 15cms apart in rows 30cms apart. Onions are ready to harvest early next summer. Try onion and garlic in big pots and keep in a sheltered spot for the best results.
October is a great month to get your permanent planting done. It’s a good time to establish your fruit and asparagus beds while the soil is still warm from the summer heat. Rhubarb and asparagus crowns will now be available in the garden centre. Prepare the beds by removing all weeds. These crops will be in these beds for many years so it helps to give them a good start.
May is the month where strawberries flower so mulch plants with straw.
Prune early flowering shrubs such as the Forsynthia and Weigela.
Direct sow basil next to tomato seedlings to help draw white fly away.
Veg seeds that can be sown outdoors include courgette, beetroot and sprouts.
Lift and divide your spring bulbs and plant where you want for next year.
Check all foliage for lily beetle and greenfly and dispose of any found.
Gardening Jobs for January
Buy seeds to be sown in January or February.
Buy seed potatoes, onion sets and garlic.
Appraise the garden for form and structure, and plan alterations and additions.
Plant window boxes and containers for seasonal colour.
Protect vulnerable plants from frost and wind damage.
Firm in any autumn-planted shrubs and border plants lifted by frost.
Knock snow off branches, especially on conifers and hedges, if they are bending under the weight.
Check stakes and ties on newly planted trees.
Remember the birds in the garden and put out food for them, especially when it’s frosty.