David Coton suggests that there are plenty of gardening jobs that need to be done in November, from why you shouldn't throw away your fallen leaves to how to take care of your vegetable patch.
With autumn winds blowing leaves all over the garden there might be a temptation to burn them. However, if you sweep them off the lawn and paths and store in spiked black bags, this time next year you'll have lovely fibrous water retentive leaf mould.
When cleared of leaves, give the lawn some attention by spiking and covering with an autumn dressing high in phosphate and potash. It's also good to keep mowing if dry weather allows but avoid walking on the grass when it is frozen.
Plant Trees And Shrubs
Now is just the right time to plant bare rooted trees, shrubs and hedging and a whole range of fruit including raspberries, gooseberries, currents and grape vines. In freezing weather protect the roots with sacking until the soil is easier to work.
You'll have a good beech, hornbeam or Portugal laurel hedge in about three years from 60cm 'whips', yew and holly will take longer. Plant about 50cm apart or for quicker results in a double staggered row with the plants and rows about 30cm apart.
Apple and pear trees can be pruned until next February but plums and damsons may be left until the summer.
Lift Dahlias, cut the foliage off to about 4ins and remove excess soil. Then place the tubers in sand and store in a cool dark place checking periodically over winter to see whether they are not too damp or dried out completely.
Plant tulip bulbs now, many gardeners would say that any earlier would invite tulip fire infection. Mulch bulb beds for them to grow through, this will suppress weeds and is easier when they are in the ground rather than speading around growing plants in the spring.
Don't stint on planting perennials and there is no reason to cut down existing hardy varieties. Their shape will add structure to the garden in winter and the seeds are a useful source of protein for the birds. Biennials such as wallflowers may now be planted out into spring bedding.
If you suspect any 'hardy' plants will not survive very cold weather, cover with fleece or a good thick mulch. Tender plants should be moved into a greenhouse or garage. Plants originating from those wonderful places where warmth is a near all year round occurrence, such as bananas and tree ferns, need to be well wrapped up in bubblewrap or hessian before the frost sets in.
Mulch bulb beds now rather than waiting for the spring when you will have to spread the mulch around the bulbs. Mulch won't feed the bulbs but will improve soil structure as it worked in over winter and suppress weeds that might grow during a mild weather.
Don't forget to discourage hungry pigeons by netting any brassicas. At the same time throw any yellowing leaves into the compost bin and make sure the stems are firmed in. Cauliflowers also need frost protection by folding leaves over the curd.
Also on the vegetable patch, if your rhubarb was a bit limp or hasn't delivered decent stems over the year, divide it with a spade and replant with well rotted organic matter. Sow early broad beans under cloches or in pots under a cold frame. Garlic should also go in now before the ground gets too wet. Particularly if you suffer from clubroot, give the earth a good dressing with lime.
Hardwood cuttings (from forsythia, viburnum, buddleia, vines, honeysuckle etc or fruit such as gooseberries) should also be keeping you busy. Once the last leaf has dropped, make a clean sloping cut below a bud and take a cutting about 9 inches long. Cut off the top growth just above a bud. Place the cutting into a compost filled pot or, if you have several, outside in line in a trench, leaving about 3 inches peeping out. Replant them next year in open ground, and then transplant into a permanent position the following year.
Dig up and split rhubarb then re-plant pieces with two or three buds in well manured soil.
Clean The Greenhouse
Thoroughly clean your greenhouse, a brush and washing up liquid will do a good job in eliminating algae on the glass. Then, if you are using the greenhouse to protect tender plants over the winter, install bubble wrap from our Autumn Gardening Shop to insulate the glazing.
Any canes can be put away until next year, after cleaning them. Once the last crop has been picked, dig the patch over, try and remove perennial weeds and leave it for the winter rains and frost to do their magic.
If you have a fruit cage, check it over for damage and it's usually a good idea to remove the netting in case of snow. Also make sure tree stakes and ties are good enough to survive the winter.
Aquatic expert Dan Everton says that your main problem as autumn bites will be leaves falling into the pond. Netting should already have been fitted, but it's never too late especially if there are adjacent trees and hedges.
Before covering the pond, remove any debris with a net or specialist pond vacuum. If the leaves sink to the bottom of the pond, they will decay and release gases that are harmful to both fauna and flora.
Don't forget to also remove dead foliage from pond plants, tidy them and divide any that have become invasive. Protect any non-hardy plants with fleece before they suffer frost damage.
Pond netting is available in a huge range of sizes and colours. There's also heavy duty netting and, in addition to keeping leaves out of the water, netting will also deter predators.
Filters And Pumps
Remove filters and pumps when the temperature dips below 10°C, cleaning before storing them for the winter. There's little biological activity in cold weather and the pumps might disturb fish and frogs residing at the bottom of the pond.
If you keep fish, then a pond thermometer will come in handy to decide what type and how much food is required. In low temperatures fish need less food and a lower protein product, undigested food will result in water contamination.
You should continue to keep an eye on water quality using a test kit, measuring the pH and checking for any build up of harmful nitrates.
Heaters And Aerators
Fish and frogs will survive under ice for a surprising amount of time if your pond is deep enough, but ice traps harmful gases and snow cover reduces the amount of light. So it's best to invest in a product that will stop ice from forming.
A pond heater or aerator will ensure that a portion of the pond is ice free, They are cheap to run and some are thermostatically controlled making them even more economic. Aerators can also be used during the summer to increase oxygenation.
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