by June Cynthia, 29th October 2021
Don’t give in to gardening inertia this November, advises June Cynithia
November is quite a strange sort of month. It’s neither Arthur or Martha. Almost past autumn, but not quite officially winter until the winter equinox arrives on the 21st December. This sometimes leaves us wandering about the garden trying not to give in to the temptation of inertia but to decide which of the dozens of little jobs we should attend to first.
We all get days like that after a busy year in the garden, so don’t beat yourself up about it. Tools at the ready, take a deep breath, and off we go for one last push to do all those small, but very important jobs that need doing before the real onset of winter steps forth.
I cannot emphasise enough that all this preparation will improve the chances of your plants not only surviving, but emerging from their slumber and looking at their very best when the spring equinox arrives on the 19th March 2022. This wonderful time of year instils in us a sense of regeneration and revival.
Jobs for November
Dahlias: Dig up your dahlias carefully once the frost has blackened the foliage. Cut all the foliage away leaving a slightly protruding main stem. Use this stem to tie on named labels on each one. Turn the tubers upside down on a metal rack and store in a frost free place. This enables the moisture from within the plant to drain away, thus reducing the risk of rot setting in. Once the tubers have finished draining, place them in boxes of damp sterile compost, perhaps mixed with a little sawdust for insulation and pack away in a frost free area for the duration of the winter.
Gunnera manicata: Cut off all of the huge leaves, leaving short protruding stems on the plant. Don’t throw the leaves away as you should impale the leaves on to the stems, upside down until you have covered the whole of the rhizomes. If the leaves are secured well this fabulous plant is said to survive up to 12 degrees of frost. This system works very well so far with my huge plant so I am quietly confident. After the leaves have been removed in the spring, it may be wise to watch the weather forecast for unexpected late frosts which could burn the emerging new rhizomes. Use some horticultural fleece to prevent this.
Bring in undercover all your tender plants i.e Phormiums, Pelargoniums, Canna Lilies, Agapanthus, Eucomis (pineapple plant), tree ferns, in fact any Mediterranean plants and fruits like lemons which will not tolerate frosts. Keep well protected in a frost free place or a heated greenhouse.
Remove from your garden beds all remnants of annual plants and debris of any kind. Pay particular attention to rose leaves which carry diseases like black spot etc. Burn these leaves and never throw them on your compost as this will surely spread the disease when the compost is used on your garden.
Put a winter mulch around your shrubs and roses. Not only will this protect them it will keep them from drying out during the winter months.
Jobs in the garden and greenhouse
Clean your greenhouse, including all your seed trays and pots and don’t forget to clean and oil all your gardening equipment before storing. Your wellies might need replacing or cleaning too. Book your lawnmower in now for a service in readiness for the new season next year and order your seeds for the new season.
Flower seeds to sow, such as sweet peas, any wildflower seeds, achillea (yarrow), alliums. bugle, eryngium (sea holly) cosmos, penstemon, antirrhinum etc.
If you haven’t planted your daffodil bulbs, plant them as soon as possible.
Now that’s its colder and there’s a lower risk of the dreaded fire blight disease, plant your tulip bulbs. As with daffodils plant your tulips 2/3 times the depth of the bulbs.
Vegetable seeds to sow include broad beans, garlic, winter lettuce, spinach, pak choi, carrots, kale and onions sets. And in the greenhouse plant spring onions, chillies (Apache) peas.