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November Gardening Calendar

Shortening days are accompanied by falling leaves, wind and rain, so tender plants will need protecting. Interest in November depends on evergreens and the structure of planting. There can be a shortage of food for birds too, so don’t forget about them

Flowers and shrubs

  • Lift, divide and replant congested clumps of perennials, such as asters, campanulas, rudbeckias and chrysanthemums, after flowering and move shrubs that are growing in the wrong place or have outgrown their position
  • Plant spring bedding, including wallflowers and forget-me-nots, for a stunning blue and orange spring display among taller tulips and pansies
  • With roses, pick leaves affected by rose blackspot and collect any lying on the ground to reduce the risk of disease carrying over to next season - dispose of them in your dustbin not the compost heap; plant bare-rooted roses and new rose bushes in well-prepared soil
  • Cut down perennials that you don’t want to keep seeds for; cut down clematis and chrysanthemums to soil level after flowering; deadhead pansies to prevent them self seeding; check variegated shrubs for plain green shoots and prune them away
  • Plant heathers and trailing ivy in pots for winter colour
  • Pot up tender perennials from summer displays to bring under cover for winter protection
  • Move containers of shrubs or winter bedding to a sheltered spot when conditions turn very cold; raise containers onto pot feet to prevent waterlogging
  • Pile a thick mulch of compost or bark over the soil around dahlias and agapanthus and over the crowns of hardy fuchsias to provide winter protection. Alternatively, lift and store dahlia tubers once their leaves are blackened by frost

Fruit and vegetables

  • Winter prune fruit trees, including apples, pears and figs but save plum pruning to summer; pick apples and pears as they ripen
  • Prune sideshoots on gooseberries back to about 5cm
  • Cut down asparagus ferns and the tops of Jerusalem artichokes, then dig up and store tubers in buckets of dry compost
  • Tidy strawberry beds, removing unwanted runners, old leaves and developing weeds
  • Collect seeds from garlic and chives, peas, beans and tomatoes to sow next year
  • Harvest mature marrows, pumpkins and squashes
  • Dig up and compost old summer crops, such as runner beans, then store away canes and supports
  • Plant out autumn onion sets and garlic or start growing cloves in pots to plant out later
  • Sow broad beans outside under cloches for early crops in June or raise in pots to plant out later
  • Sow hardy peas under fleece for an early crop next year
  • Plant new fruit trees, bushes and cane fruits
  • Pot up leafy herbs to bring on to a window sill and use in winter
  • Use cloches to protect winter peas, beans and salads
  • Check fruits in storage and remove any showing signs of rot
  • Wrap grease bands around fruit trees to catch female winter moths climbing up from the soil

In the greenhouse

  • Line greenhouses with bubble wrap for insulation against falling night temperatures
  • Ventilate the greenhouse on warm days but close doors and vents every evening to trap in the warmth
  • If you haven’t already removed shading paint, blinds and netting and scrubbed down the glass to let in plenty of light, it’s time to do it now
  • Check your greenhouse heaters are in working order and that they have enough fuel - monitor day and night temperatures with a max-min thermometer and turn on heating if needed
  • Water plants sparingly and avoid splashing the water around to keep the atmosphere as dry as possible over winter
  • Bring tender plants and potted peaches and nectarines under cover
  • Clear out old tomato and cucumber cordons and add to the compost heap
  • Sow sweet peas in deep pots and overwinter in the greenhouse or a cold frame
  • Plant bulbs in large pots of compost ready to fill any gaps in spring borders
  • Bring potted herbs under cover to continue cropping over winter
  • Propagate perennials from root cuttings including phlox, rhus and mint
  • Spread out harvested onions on staging to dry thoroughly before storing
  • Plant dwarf irises, hyacinths and crocuses in pots
  • Scrub down staging and framework with disinfectant to use again next year

Lawn and trees

  • Rake lawns regularly to avoid build up of fallen leaves that will kill grass beneath; rake up fallen leaves, or save time by investing in a garden vac, and add to a leaf bin to compost down into leaf-mould
  • Mow lawns on dry days with the blades on a high setting; spike lawns then brush grit into the holes to improve surface drainage
  • Avoid walking on lawns covered with frost
  • Check stakes and ties are secure on trees and climbers
  • Plant bare-root trees, bare-root shrubs and hedging

General maintenance

  • Repair fences and trellis now they are becoming free of foliage - choose a dry day to treat fences and timber structures with stain or preservative
  • Check bonfires carefully before lighting to make sure there are no hibernating hedgehogs sheltering inside them
  • Protect large ceramic or delicate glazed pots from frost damage by wrapping them in bubble wrap or moving them into a shed or somewhere undercover during winter
  • Wrap insulation material around outdoor taps and pipes; remove pumps and filters from ponds and bubble fountains to avoid damage in freezing weather
  • Spread compost from old grow bags and well-composted bins on to outdoor flower beds to fork in over winter

Plan ahead

  • Order bare-rooted hedging, fruit trees, bushes and cane fruits for winter planting
  • Send off for mail-order seed catalogues and start preparing your planting wishlist; take advantage of seed catalogue early order special offers 

Little green fingers

  • Get the children to help you dig up and spread out onions on staging in the greenhouse to dry thoroughly before storing them away. They’ll love eating winter warmer recipes where ‘their’ onions are a key ingredient, such as sausages with onion gravy or beef, tomato and onion casserole.