As winter approaches, take advantage of the cool days and the slower pace of gardening to prepare your plants for winter. November is in the midst of the dormant period so it’s the perfect time to keep up your garden maintenance and prepare your garden for the future frosts. Read on for our tips on what to do in your garden in November.
1. Sowing and planting
Bulbs should preferably be planted earlier in autumn, but there is still time this November for tulips, daffodils and crocuses. These bulbs can be planted through to the end of the month if the weather is mild before the soil loses the heat from the summer months.
You can always plant bulbs in pots indoors to add some spring colour to your home, just make sure you chose indoor cultivating bubs.
Autumn bedding plants such as pansies, violas and wallflowers can still be planted if you are experiencing mild weather. Make sure you plant winter bedding plants on a sunny day, in rich, moist soil. Adding grit is especially important for soil drainage in case you experience frequent showers this winter.
2. Tidying your garden - prune, cut back and divide
November is your last chance to prepare your soil before winter sets in. Soil can easily be damaged so make sure you dig up any unwanted plants and turn over your soil while it still contains some summer heat.
Protect any bare patches of soil with mulch, compost, leaf mould or even plastic sheeting. This will make the soil easy to plant or sow into next spring. Perennials should be divided and pruned to soil level now to ensure they return next spring as healthy as ever.
Work from the middle outwards, pruning back quite harshly, especially if the plants are looking over-crowded. All annuals should have been removed, as they have nothing else to offer, replace these with winter bedding plants to keep the colour in your garden this winter.
3. Garden maintenance
Leaves are a commodity in any garden, perfect for adding to both mulch and compost once your leaf pile has transformed into mould.
Firstly, separate your leaves and keep them in a garden container, bag or create a heap in a quiet corner of your garden. The bacteria that break the leaves down to mould needs oxygen to work, so make sure you puncture any bags you collect your leaves in.
Raise any patio containers by adding bricks or feet underneath, this will protect your plants and soil from becoming waterlogged during winter showers. If you are expecting an especially harsh winter, it’s best to insulate any outside plant containers with bubble wrap to protect them from frost.
November is the perfect time to make bonfires. Where allowed, create bonfires out of any garden waste that can’t be added to compost. Check around your garden for any sign of plant disease, a bonfire is a perfect way to dispose of any infected plant parts and reduce chances of the disease spreading.
4. Plant protection
Don’t become complacent if you’ve been fortunate enough to have mild weather so far; it only takes one night of frost to damage or even kill off most garden plants. Move them into a sheltered, well-insulated place such as a greenhouse or conservatory if you have one to make sure they survive this winter. If you don’t have room to keep your plants indoors make sure you cover anything vulnerable to the weather with plastic sheeting or garden fleece.
If you’re keen to keep wildlife in your garden this winter, there are plenty of things you can do to encourage insects, birds and other creatures to roam around.
As you tidy your garden, you’ll find that you uncover many pests hiding beneath plants. Encouraging hungry birds into your garden can ensure slugs and snails are a thing of the past. Not all wildlife should be encouraged into your garden; unfortunately little garden pests are hardier than they may look. Keep an eye out for pests like spider mites and scale, and take care of them before they become a problem.
For more advice on how to deal with garden pests, take a look at our garden pests series.
5. Fruit & vegetables
Most vegetables won’t grow very well if they are planted between November and February because the short days don’t provide enough sunlight. All root vegetables should have been dug up by now if you haven’t harvested carrots, turnips, potatoes and other similar vegetables they need to be dug up as soon as possible.
Don’t worry too much about your vegetable patch looking bare; fill your plot with hardy broad beans, onions, garlic and shallots. Make sure you protect new crops and sowings for winter by covering them with frames or cloches (large bell-shaped glass). Alternatively, you can use large plastic juice containers.
Continue to harvest and store your fruit, when apples and pears are ready they should be picked, and stored in a cool, dry, place to reach their peak of flavour.
You should also be cutting back any berry canes to soil level so they grow back strong and healthy next year. Order any new fruit trees and bushes now, and plant them out when directed. Check that your fruit ties are still in place as fruit trees and canes can easily be damaged due to wind. Tidy your fruit garden and remove any debris to be added to your compost pile.
We hope this guide has provided lots of ideas of what to do and plant in the garden in November. Why not get started by looking at our fantastic range of autumn/winter bedding plants.