Your November Garden

November can be a mixed up month. The halfway house between autumn and winter when leaves, particularly this year, cling on and show wonderful colour, whilst birds start tapping at windows asking for feeders to be filled and birdbaths to be cleaned and topped up. It's also the traditional month to be burning dried twigs, cuttings and twigs. It's a cathartic process of clean up and a superb time to get things in tip top order before the real winter strikes. Sheds and greenhouses can be tidied and any stored crops in either should be checked for any signs of rots. Mice are coming back in from the fields so make sure they haven't spotted your onions and root crops. Teeth marks on your tubers are most off-putting. There's also plenty to be planting in November. Wallflowers look and smell terrific in spring if plants are put in now. Shrubs can be planted if the soil is dry and warm. If the soil sticks to your boots then it is too wet to work. If it is deep frozen then keep your spade in the freshly cleaned and tidied shed. November is a deeply satisfying month in the garden.

Key activity for your November garden

November is an uplifting type of month. Dahlias are getting ever popular and now is the time to get  your tubers out of the soil to prepare them for next year. Cut off the straggly, dead foliage and ease a fork under the plant. Go deep as the tuber, packed with next years energy store, will be plump. You will hear the gentle ripping of minor roots but once out, the tuber should be placed on a bench on the shed or greenhouse and allowed to dry out.

After a week or so ease off large clods of soil on the tuber and check for any signs of rotting or damage, if sound, place the tuber in a deep seed tray or wooden box lined with newspaper and half filled with dry compost. And that’s it until next spring. Easy.

Containers of plants that have to withstand the incoming winter should be raised off the ground to prevent water becoming trapped in the pots, resulting in root rot. You can buy ready made pot feet to do the job or bricks, although less decorative, will do the same job.

November can also be a windy month so check that greenhouse glass is secure, sound and replace anything that is cracked. Rotten fence panels and posts are best replaced before a gust or two sends them flying. Check tree ties are still doing their job  - neither too tight or too loose – and ensure the stakes themselves haven't rotted through.

Hints and tips

  • Avoid walking on wet soil as it will damage the structure.
  • Ventilate greenhouses on sunny days as temperatures can still rocket.
  • Snaffle up bargain bulbs sold at discount prices and plant them in pots.
  • Power wash paths to remove algae and avoid slippery accidents.
  • Empty the contents of compost heaps, mix it all up and put back in the bin. Air helps decomposition and it will keep you warm on a cold November morning.

A quick roundup:

  • Lift tender plants.
  • Check structures for signs of rot and replace.
  • Plant winter interest plants.
  • Tidy sheds and store tools.