Gardening November

Late autumn is a quiet time in the garden, with short, cold days and long, often frosty, nights. Most plants are dormant at this time of year and require very little attention, however there are still tasks to do and there is little time to sit around doing nothing. You may need to force yourself outside, but once you do your mood will instantly lift. Here is the list of ‘most urgent’ tasks this month.
• Net Brassicas and Gooseberries to prevent damage from birds
• Clean slippery paths and driveways
• Place grease bands around fruit trees to protect them from winter moths.
• Continue to clear leaves from paths and lawns.
• Place tree guards on young trees and woody shrubs to prevent damage from nibbling by Rabbits, deer or squirrels.
• Lift Plant Pots Off The Ground: It’s impossible to tell how much rain we’ll see over winter, but if there is lots your plant pots could end up waterlogged.
• Sow Now: Sow pots of herbs in a heated greenhouse or on a bright windowsill indoors. Try basil, dill, chives and parsley. Direct sow outdoors Broad Beans and hardy peas.
• Plant Now: Plant tulip bulbs now – later than most bulbs, but a late planting may help reduce problems with the disease tulip fire.
• Prune Now: Vigorous rose bushes and shrubs such as lavatera and buddleia and be pruned by a third to prevent damage from wind rock. A clean cut is advisable, but more accurate pruning can follow on the other side of winter when the sap is rising.
Feature: Too good to let go?
Some plants are not hardy enough to survive the winter outside and need frost protection. Overwintering plants can be a good way to save money and to have a more established plant for next spring. The chances are your space to store plants inside is limited, so you will have to decide what’s worth keeping and how you will care for them. Here’s a few helpful tips:
• Keep only healthy plants. If something has been struggling all summer under the best of conditions, it is not going to improve indoors.
• Never bring in a plant with pests or disease.
• Give ‘dibs’ to your favourite plants, the ones you’ve been coddling for years, things you’ve trained into a standard, or your sentimental favourites.
• If the plant would look good as a house plant, bring it in and use it as one (coleus and impatiens are good examples)
• Be realistic about space and available light.
Personally, I don’t keep annuals, their entire life mission is to produce seed to ensure future generations. They have pretty flowers to attract insects so that it can be pollinated and we dead-head all summer long to force the plant into producing more flowers to set seed. Annuals are in-expensive, easy to grow from seed, and by changing them each year you can experiment with new plants and colour schemes without making a long-term commitment.
Tender perennials such as pelargoniums (tender geraniums), heliotropes and fuchsias are best moved to a frost-free greenhouse, porch or conservatory. I don’t keep ‘bedding geraniums’ instead I reserve the space for more expensive scented and regal pelargoniums. As we live in a relatively mild part of the country, I don’t recommend lifting Dahlias or Cannas. Leave them in-situ and protect them with a good mulch of compost or leaf mould. Begonia corms are best lifted and stored dried.
For those growing exotic plants outside, protect the “hardy” bananas (Musa basjoo), Palms and tree ferns by wrapping their trunks and crowns in straw and use an outer layer of garden fleece or hessian. Don’t use bubble wrap as the plants sweat, causing fungal issues. I’m a lazy gardener, my Bananas are grown in large pots which I site just outside
Other plants are hardier, but dislike exposed sites, or winter wet and therefore require some protection these include Lemons & citrus, Olive, Salvia, Agapanthus and French Lavenders. Winter wet isn’t usually too much of an issue in dry East Anglia, simply raise your pots to ensure they drain.
Rachel Sobiechowski BSc (Hons) P&R Garden Supplies, Fengate Drove, Brandon 01842 814800 www.p-rgardensupplies.co.uk

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