News, Advice, Tips and Jobs For November 2021
The jet stream seems to be making many unexplained detours from its normal path, causing us to experience very changeable weather. We appear to be buffeted by cold winds and high pressure from the north one day and then mild wet airstreams from the south as wetter blustery low-pressure patterns come in from the west as we head into November. In Birmingham, we have experienced lows of 1.3c with visible ground frosts in the first few days of November and the threat of snow from Mid-November according to some, but expect this will relate more to the north of Scotland. My personal feeling is that temperatures will stay slightly above normal for at least the first three weeks of this month, with no sign of frosts again until the 24th of the month at the earliest.
We will also have COP 26 taking place in November, and we have already seen the Royal Horticultural Society publish its updated report on The Changing Climate and Gardeners. I also hear on the grape vine a British succulent nursery is supplying plants for COP 26! Early November has seen a flurry of green claims with plans to make greenhouses carbon-neutral almost immediately, I understand Bents in the north-west have installed solar panels on the roof of their large garden centre as part of their plans to cut CO2 emissions. Also, at COP 26 will be many lobby groups including International Peat Society demonstrating how peat bogs are being restored and just how little of the harvested peat is used in horticulture.
Apparently leaf collecting is now all the rage, these can be pressed or preserved in various ways, for however I prefer to get out there with my camera or smartphone, there will be some great images in the first few days of the month.
I will add more information as it comes to hand, please visit us again for all the latest information
Coronavirus continues to dominate our lives, and it is interesting to see how different groups are responding to guidelines, currently there are no rules forcing anyone to wear a mask at meetings, however I believe it is a good idea if you are able, however there are some who for various reasons cannot wear masks and must not be seen to be unfair to them, As an Asthma suffer who wears glasses I am only too aware of the problems masks or face coverings cause. Some groups like the Clwyd group of the Hardy Plant Society along with Bidford on Avon Horticultural Society saw most members wearing masks, while many other groups I visited had hardly anyone wearing face coverings.
This month sees two groundsmen exhibitions at the NEC, and I will add my news and advice after visiting the shows.
The low temperatures might tempt people to start lifting Dahlias, but I prefer to wait until the sugars have gone done and delay lifting until early December, even although we experienced some really frosty nights (-2c) around the 28th of November.
High humidity can be a major concern this month, especially in aluminium greenhouses, it is good practice to open doors and vents if warm enough to dry out the overnight condensation. I also run an extra fan in my geranium greenhouse to keep the air circulating and prevent botrytis rotting the foliage. Keep any water off foliage.
Years ago was traditionally bare root planting season from November to March, we can all be that little more eco-friendly by buying bare root plants that are now becoming more popular with several rose nurseries offering bare root dispatch. From November onwards we can plant many deciduous subjects such as trees shrubs, hedging and herbaceous.
Make sure all tender plants are brought into frost free environments and any structures housing tender plants are made as airtight as possible, especially if the structure is heated.
The sudden changes in weather in the first few days of the month have brought in some high winds, so it is advisable to check on security of fence panels, shed roofs etc.
Our hedgehogs are still visiting each night, so we will continue to put out specialist hedgehog food and fresh water, they certainly drink a lot.
More will be added as the month progresses.
The Flower Garden
While visiting several garden centres recently I noted several outstanding evergreens, some with the additional benefit of flowers, fruits and even scent. There is just sufficient time to plant these in focal points to provide winter attraction by establishing in situ or in suitable containers.
Continue to remove heavy accumulations of leaves from the lawn and flowerbeds. It is worth collecting separately any leaves infected with black spot from roses and disposing of these rather than including them in your leaf mould or compost.
If you have surplus compost now is the ideal time to mulch around roses to seal in late autumn warm, insulate plants from winter cold and help prevent Black Spot infection early next year.
Towards the end of the month if Dahlias have become blackened by the frost it is possible to start lifting, but I prefer to leave it until early December. They should be dried-off and stored in a frost-free place, either dry or boxed-up in compost, after dusting the tubers with a fungicide. Make sure the labels are securely attached.
Early-flowering chrysanthemums can also be lifted now. Cut them down and wash off all soil before boxing them and bringing them gently into growth. And, if you are looking forward to early sweet peas next year, now is an excellent time to prepare a bed by double digging and applying bone-meal at the rate of 2oz/sq yd to the top spit of soil.
Any tender plants not already protected, should be covered with bracken or straw and plants in containers can be protected by wrapping the pots with sacking or carpet.
In the herbaceous border, plants should be lifted, divided and replanted as necessary. The dead flower stalks of Kniphofia can be removed and the crowns protected by folding the foliage across them. Lightly fork the border to remove weeds and consider, perhaps, planting lily of the valley in sites which are partially shaded. Tulips should be planted before the middle of the month. Check that the bulbs are disease-free.
Seeds of gentianas, hellebores, anemones, paeonies, berberis, roses, clematis and cotoneaster may be sown during November, keeping one pan of each outside and another in the greenhouse. It is also time for new roses to be delivered from the nursery and, weather permitting, they can be planted straight away. Sometimes, of course, roses arrive during a bad spell of weather. In such circumstances, all you can do is keep them in a frost-free place or heel them in to a piece of spare ground until the soil is suitable for planting.
Established roses should be autumn pruned to prevent them being damaged in the winter winds. The overall height of HT roses can be reduced by one half, and that of floribundas by a third. Rake up and burn all roses leaves, as they are likely to carry spores - the resting stages of diseases. Rambler roses should be layered.
Shrub borders will need a general tidying and a light forking over to remove any weeds. To protect the rhododendrons and azaleas buds from bird damage, they should be sprayed with a bird repellent.
When the weather permits, continue planting new shrubs. Small, dormant trees and shrubs can also be lifted and replanted if necessary, taking care to carry as large a rootball of soil around the roots as possible. Heathers can still be planted this month, even if they are in flower. A light, peaty soil suits them best. Finish preparing and planting new hedges.
Now is a good time to take hardwood cuttings of shrubs, including Elaeagnus pungens, ivy, ribes and salix.
There is likely to be more tidying to be done in the rock garden to prepare it for winter. Dead flower heads should be removed, saving the seed if required, and stone clippings placed around the base of the more difficult alpines. Some choice specimens will also require protection in the form of a sheet of glass supported just above the plant.
Preparing the pond for winter will involve the removal of old leaves and then thinning of oxygenating plants. Pond pumps also need attention, perhaps even overhauling. Submersible types should be removed from the water and stored in a dry place over winter.
I would normally recommend the height of the mower blades should be set high for the final cut and once completed, while it is still on your mind, you might consider sending the mower away for an annual overhaul. However, the mild weather at the beginning of the month means lawns will probably need further mowings this month.
Continue to aerate the lawn and apply an autumn fertilizer. On dry days, worm-casts should be scattered with a brush or besom.
Leave can build up on lawns this month weakening the grass in severe cases, modern battery powered leaf blowers are ideal for clearing the lawn and pushing the leaves into borders where they will act as a soil insulation, protecting roots and encouraging good soil husbandry as the leaves break down.
If conditions permit, new areas could be prepared and turved. Remember to work from boards to avoid causing damage to newly laid turves.
Should we find the weather turning colder with morning frosts it is a good idea to avoid walking on the lawn to prevent physical damage and the risk of diseases breaking out.
The Vegetable Garden
There's definitely no putting it off! This is the time to start that winter digging, especially on heavy clay soils.
Any remaining carrots and beetroot should be lifted as early as possible, twisting off the tops and putting the roots into store in moist sand or peat. Winter radish will also be ready for lifting and storing, and the last few potatoes should be dug up now, keeping only the healthy tubers and storing them in either paper or hessian sacks in the dark. While you have potatoes on the mind, check those put into store earlier and throw away any that are showing signs of disease. Jerusalem artichokes may be lifted and stored in the same manner.
Parsnips should be lifted in batches and stored in sand until needed. It is also time to lift forcing varieties of chicory, cutting off the leaves, discarding those roots less than 1in across at the crown, and storing them in sand ready for forcing.
Old clumps of rhubarb also need attention this month. They can be lifted and divided. Dead leaves should be removed.
If you have a sheltered site it will be possible to sow long pod broad beans and early round dwarf peas in the first part of November. In colder areas it is wise to choose broad beans in preference to peas. The seeds are planted 2-4ins deep, according to soil types, in a flat-bottomed drill and covered with compost and a layer of wood ash.
Check the leeks now and draw the earth up around them in order to increase the length of the blanched stems. It is also time to cut down globe artichokes and asparagus. Globe artichoke crown can be covered with bracken to protect them from the winter cold or alternatively plant them into a cold frame. Asparagus beds will need covering with manure, forming ridges over the crowns.
There is a last chance to plant out spring cabbage early in the month and, if not already done, tall Brussels sprouts should be staked to prevent wind rock. To avoid damage by birds, greens may need protecting with netting.
When soil conditions permit, you can plant perennial herbs. Any mint beds affected by mint rust should be packed round with straw and burnt down. Clear any plants of basil, chervil, dill, fennel and parsley which have grown for a second year and dig over the cleared ground. You might consider planting horseradish, but remember this one can be invasive and persistant.
Fruit trees and bushes can be planted into well-prepared sites which have been first double-dug and manured according to the soil type. Old and unproductive trees may need removing with a view to replacing them with more suitable cultivars or rootstocks. Remember that some very dwarf rootstocks will require staking throughout their life. Any remaining strawberries may also be planted now. Check over the plants and remove runners and out of season flowers.
Posts and wires supporting cane fruit should be checked for signs of old age, deterioration or wind damage. Replace or repair as necessary.
Winter pruning of fruit trees, designed to encourage shoot growth, needs to be considered now. Fruit trees trained against walls can also be pruned. All remaining branches will need to be tied-in.
This is the month to finish pruning cane fruit, except for autumn fruiting raspberries. Where they are overcrowded, canes should be thinned-out and new canes tied-in to prevent them being damaged by gales. Newly planted raspberries should be cut down and not allowed to fruit in their first season.
Peaches and almonds should be sprayed with an approved fungicide to control peach leaf curl.
Conservatories and Greenhouses
Definitely the month to check that the greenhouse heater is working! Bubble polythene could be installed to act as secondary glazing and help retain heat in the greenhouse, but take care not to cause condensation build-up as this all to easily leads to rots and botrytis. When the weather is mild, the greenhouse should be ventilated thoroughly to keep the air fresh and circulating, but always close the vents when it turns cold or foggy.
Early chrysanthemums can be lifted and boxed. On late-flowering plants it is important that you watch for damping-off on the blooms and take appropriate action if necessary. Whitefly can also be a problem at this time of year and, again, it needs swift action if damage is to be limited.
Cyclamen and primulas will now be looking forward to a fortnightly feed with a weak liquid fertiliser. To avoid a check in the growth, Schizanthus should be potted-on before they become pot bound and cinerarias should also be given extra space in which to develop. Lilies in pots can be re-potted, placing them into the cold frame until they start to grow and then returning them to the greenhouse. Any bulbs planted for indoor decoration should be checked regularly and gradually brought into the light as the top growth develops, but keeping them cool. Do not let them dry out completely.
Watering in winter needs special consideration. Geraniums and fuchsias should have their watering gradually reduced while Christmas flowering azaleas and solanums should be watered with care, they are both easily spoilt by being kept to dry.
Fuchsias, abutilons and bouganvilleas can be lightly pruned. You might also consider sowing gloxinia seeds. Use a heated propagator to speed up germination or sow the seeds thinly onto compost, press lightly and cover with a sheet of glass. Have a look at any geranium cuttings you have been striking. Those which have rooted successfully may be potted now or left until February. Dry off achimenes, begonias and gloxinias, and cut back and dry cannas. After a good frost, hydrangeas can be brought inside for forcing.
In the cold greenhouse, tender plants should be plunged into soil to keep their roots as far as away from the frost as possible.
Keep paths clear of leaves, check security of fences and other structures in the garden.
Clear weeds from block paving and between slabs either using a proper tool to scrape between edges or use a fatty acid based weedkiller. Pressure washing can remove the fine sand and dirt, but this should only be replaced with proper kiln dried sand.
Looking Good This month
Gentiana farreri, G. intermedia, G. ornata,
Primula Juliana varieties.
Colchicum byzantinum cilicicum,
Crocus asturicus, C. Boryi and varieties, C. hyemalis and varieties, C. speciosus,
Pulmonaria angustifolia azurea
Crataegus monogyna praecox,
Erica carnea varieties,
Elaeagnus macrophylla, E. pungens,
Viburnum fragrans, V. tinus
Arbutus hybrida, A. unedo,
Prunus subhirtella autumnalis
Fruit and Vegetables in season
Cabbage, Cauliflower, Kale
Potatoes (from protected environs and in pots)
The information given in this Fact Sheet is provided in good faith. It is however of necessity general information and advice on the topic. Howard Drury will not be under any liability in respect of the provision of such advice and information, and you are strongly advised to seek independent advice on any particular gardening problems or queries you may have, preferably from experts who can (when appropriate) inspect the problem before providing advice.
© 2021 This material has been produced by Howard Drury and must not be reproduced in part or full without the written consent of Howard Drury, Kings Heath Birmingham, B13 0SJ.