Gardening jobs for November
The last month of autumn will often see the first frost of the year. The garden takes a distinct change from its summer garb into its winter coat. The soft and luscious herbaceous planting becomes a mix of dark silhouettes and structural seed heads highlighted by a dusting of frost. Get out early on a morning to appreciate the mystique of the season with this month’s gardening jobs, but stay warm and cosy tucked up by the fire in the evening.
Gardening jobs in the veg garden
Collect fallen fruit
However many apples you try to eat, cook, freeze or juice there are always more than we can manage. It is tempting to leave the excess to fall under the trees. However, these rotting fruit can harbour pests and disease which will transfer to the new apples next year and cause more problems. Better to collect them and add them to the compost heap where the heat can kill off any nasties.
Apply grease bands to fruit trees
The caterpillars of winter moths will damage the blossoms and leaves on apple trees as they emerge in the spring. The wingless females need to crawl up the stem of the tree to lay their eggs in the branches. By using a grease band to create a sticky barrier around the trunk you can prevent them making their way into your trees.
Protect brassicas from pigeons
You should have harvested most of the veg garden by November, but there will still be plenty of brassicas to see you through the winter. Cabbages, Kale, Broccoli and Brussels sprouts are all prone to attack from pigeons, so it’s a good idea to cover them with netting to keep the birds off.
Take hardwood cuttings of red currants
Propagate red currant bushes now. Some of the long shoots produced in the previous summer will make great cutting material. Cut them into sections around 15-20cm long and heel them into a long, narrow slit-trench lined with sand in an unused part of the veg garden. Over spring and summer they will start to form roots, and next year you can transplant them to their final position.
Plant raspberry canes
Autumn is the start of the planting season and it’s no exception in the veg garden. If you want to establish a new patch of raspberries it’s cheapest to buy them as bare-root canes now. Make sure you soak the roots in a bucket of water before planting so they get a good contact with the soil and will establish much better.
Rhubarb plants are dormant through the winter, so it’s a good time to propagate new plants and refresh old ones. Lift the old crowns and split them so each new section has a large chunk of the fibrous roots and a big ‘eye’. You can replant these into a bed refreshed with plenty of manure as they like lots of moisture and food.
Harvest veg after frost
The first frosts will make some veg taste much better. Parsnips, Kale, Brussels Sprouts and Carrots all seem sweeter as the cold weather encourages the plants to store more sugar than water to prevent freezing.
Gardening jobs: Ornamentals
Any bare soil in the garden should be covered with a layer of mulch to prevent damage from the winter storms. Composted bark gives a great effect, but has little nutrient content. Using your own compost or mulch is a virtuous circle as you will be reincorporating the very minerals your weeds and plants have removed from the soil.
Protect bulbs in pots
Bulbs that have been planted in pots are vulnerable to squirrel damage. They don’t usually eat the bulbs but will often dig them up as they try to hide their nuts. You can prevent them from spoiling your spring displays by simply placing a layer of chickenwire over the top of the pot.
Lift dahlias and gladioli for storing
Dahlias and Gladioli are borderline tender (especially in heavy clay soils that retain a lot of water.) You can successfully overwinter these flowers in well drained beds by simply covering them with a thick layer of bark mulch or straw. In the coldest areas you’ll need to lift them just after the first frosts have blackened the foliage. Cut off all the top growth and try to clean off any soil after lifting. They will need to be stored upside down to ensure any moisture can run out of the hollow stems as this can cause rot to set in.
Plant tulip bulbs
Traditionally, you should plant tulip bulbs in November. It’s sometimes said that this reduces the chance of tulip fire, but unfortunately it probably won’t have any affect. Tulip fire usually spreads in the spring and overwinters on bulbs left in the soil. The cold weather has no affect on it. If you have tulip fire remove the bulbs and do not plant in that area for several years. New bulbs will not be infected so the real reason gardeners plant in autumn is probably because the border still looks good until the first frost, so why wreck it planting bulbs?
Cut back Crocosmia
Crocosmia can have vibrant orange, yellow, red or pink flowers from mid to late summer. In autumn they will have finished flowering and start to turn brown and floppy. This is the perfect time to start cutting them back. Well-established clumps may benefit from being lifted and split up to give them a bit more space to grow.
Gardening jobs for the lawn
Repair damaged lawns
Whilst the weather is still warm there is still an opportunity for repairing any areas damaged by wear and tear over the year. Turf can still be laid whilst the weather is warm but will struggle if it is very cold. Grass seed will germinate even at low temperatures but it’s best to get it sewn earlier in Autumn as the cool weather will encourage development of strong roots.
Raise mower blades
Grass will still grow whilst it is warm but it’s good to leave the sward a little longer than usual raise the mower blades one or two notches just to keep the lawn neat and tidy and hoover up any stray leaves.
Gardening jobs for the pond
Remove excess pond weed
Most pond plants grow at an alarming rate, so before anything in the pond goes into full hibernation mode for the winter, its a good time to clear out some of the aquatic plants that have grown too large during the summer. They should break down easily and make great compost.
Gardening jobs in the greenhouse
The light levels in winter can be very low – therefore, every bit of light is valuable. Make sure to keep the glass of the greenhouse clean and take the opportunity to clean out any nooks and crannies that might be hiding any bugs.
Take root cuttings
Propagate Poppies, Echinops, Eryngium or Anemones by root cuttings. It’s best to take them in late autumn or early winter. Dig up the plants and cut the long fleshy tap-root into 2-3cm long sections. Make a horizontal cut at the top and an angled cut at the bottom so you can tell which is which. Place them in a 7cm pot filled with compost so that the top of the cutting is level with the top of the compost. They will soon start to sprout and produce lots of plants for your borders next year
Test your greenhouse heater
Make sure your heater is working before it gets really cold. Most greenhouses only really need a little bit of heating to prevent them freezing. However, if you only have a few small plants to protect they may be best in a heated propagator or on a small heat pad.
Gardening jobs: Pests and diseases
Protect newly planted trees and shrubs with spiral guards
A plastic spiral tree guard or a plastic tube is not the most attractive. However, they can give a young sapling the protection they need to get established. They reduce the chance of the tree being grazed or any bark damage from deer and rabbits, and the higher humidity within the tube encourages earlier emergence and faster growth come the spring.
These tough little blighters can be impossible to get rid of. As a result, they will hunker down in the buds and cracks in the bark of fruit trees. The best treatment on outdoor plants, therefore, would be an application of winter wash. This usually contains a mixture of fish oils which will consequently penetrate their protective woolly coating and smother them with oil that suffocates them. Furthermore, on indoor plants, an insecticidal soap would be the best treatment.
Gardening jobs in the shed
Clean water butt
It’s one of those jobs which you probably never remember to do but will pay dividends. Water butts often get a layer of anaerobic sludge at the bottom which can start to smell when it warms up again. You probably won’t need the water as much during winter. Therefore, it’s a good time to empty them out and give them a bit of a cleanup. They will be refilled by the winter rains ready for use in spring.
Feed the birds
Remember to put bird food out through the winter months as birds will still be active. You can ensure they will keep visiting your garden by providing a ready source of food. A mix of seeds, meal worms, and fat balls will bring in a wide selection of birds. Additionally, this will keep any insect problems in your garden under control in the spring.
Pressure wash patios
Before it gets too cold it’s a good idea to give the patio a quick pressure wash. The damp autumn weather can often cause a bloom of slimy green algae on paths and patios. Remember to drain any water from the pressure washer after use. Finally, store it in a frost free place to prevent it freezing and causing damage to the motor and seals.