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Jobs for November’s garden

Posted: 10th November 2022

After the hot, dry summer and early part of the autumn, at long last we’ve had some decent rain that has seeped in several inches and the garden now looks so much better as a result. However, when you dig down a spade’s depth in our garden, the soil is still very dry, so we are going to need a fair amount over rain over the coming months to get moisture levels back to where they should be.

The temperatures over the past few weeks have also been unusually high for the time of the year and many plants that would normally have finished for the season are still looking good, including many late summer perennials, dahlias and annuals

And hasn’t the autumn foliage been good this year? I didn’t think that after the dry summer it wouldn’t be very good, but to my surprise trees and shrubs have produces some amazing colours.

We’re now busy getting started with work at Ivy Cottage. Jill has made a list of jobs as long as my arm that need doing in the house, but the first major project has been the new (pre-loved) greenhouse that is up and already it’s starting to fill with plants.

We’ve also done a draft design of the garden, but that may well change over the coming months as we think of new ideas! For now, I’m concentrating on grubbing out some of the overgrown or badly shaped shrubs to make way for lots of new planting in spring – so watch this space.


Jobs for the garden in November

There is often debate as to whether you should lift dahlia tubers in autumn. I prefer to lift, because if we get a very cold winter the tubers can be killed. Plus, if left in the ground, as new shoots start to grow in spring, just below soil level, hungry slugs target them. Normally the time to lift is when the stems and foliage has been frosted, but with the mild weather the plants are still growing. However, I’ll still aim to lift from the garden by the end of November at the latest and the tubers will be stored in a frost-free shed over winter.

Any perennials such as hostas that have collapsed into a soggy heap can be tidied up and the remains added to the compost bin. Plants with structural stems or attractive seed heads can be left in the borders over winter if you wish. These also provide seeds for small birds and hibernating sites for insects.

 Leaves are falling fast and furious now and it’s time to get the leaf rake or leaf-vac out to start clearing. In borders they can be left to rot down over winter, but where they are covering small plants or are several inches deep on the lawn, they do need collecting. Autumn leaves are perfect for adding to the compost heap where they will soon break down into wonderful garden compost.

If you haven’t yet sown sweet peas for next year, there is still time.  Sow in pots or deep trays and germinate in a cold greenhouse, unheated conservatory or cold frame. Seedlings should be through in a couple of weeks, and they need good light and cool temperatures under cover, to protect them from excessive wet weather.

November is the traditional time to plant tulip bulbs, but for best results the soil should be cool to help prevent possible infection of the fungal disease Tulip Fire. If you’ve got tulips waiting to plant, my advice would be to wait a few weeks until soil temperatures drop. In the meantime, keep the bulbs as cool a place as possible.

Give rose bushes and climbing roses their autumn prune to stop them flowering and to tidy them up for winter. Aim to prune bushes back by around one-third and reduce long side shoots on climbers to help prevent wind rock over the winter months. The full prune is given in March just as the buds are starting to burst.

If you are still planting daffodils, crocus, spring iris and snowdrops, aim to get them planting into the ground or in containers as soon s possible so they can start making roots. If planting a selection in pots, try planting a few colourful violas on top for instant colour. The shoots of the bulbs will grow through them in spring.

There is still time to plant garlic directly into the garden. Divide the garlic bulb into individual cloves and plant them into soil that’s been forked over, so that the tip of the clove is just below soil level. Space them approx. 15cm (6in) apart in rows and in a matter of weeks new shoots will appear that sit through winter until spring when they start into full growth.

Check winter brassicas such as cabbages, Brussels sprouts and kale and pick off any dead or yellow leaves from the base of the plants. Tall growing purple sprouting broccoli may also need a few canes to support it.

As you finish clearing areas of the veg garden either fork it over lightly or spread garden compost over the area for the worms to pull down.

And don’t forget you can watch our weekly gardening video “Pots & Trowels” on Facebook or better still subscribe on YouTube for free, where you can also watch the back catalogue of videos. For a selection Jill’s seasonal recipes visit our website www.martinfish.com

Happy gardening


Martin Fish.