Guide written by:
John, Passionate gardener, Cambridge
With winter just around the corner, November is the ideal time to start protecting your plants from the cold. But if you're lucky enough to get fairly mild winters, you may still be able to sow and plant a handful of crops in the vegetable garden alongside some fruit trees and ornamental trees or shrubs.
- Sowing and planting
- Removing diseased plants
- Marking out perennials
- Tree care
What to do in the vegetable patch in November
Any work that directly involves your plants or the soil should always be done before the frost hits. Protect any vegetables still in the ground in the garden (such as leeks, carrots, salsify, etc.) using a thick layer of mulch or dead leaves.
Continue to air out your greenhouse and cold frame on sunny days. Now is a good time to spread manure over the surface of your garden but don't bury it as it needs oxygen to decompose. If you fancy a bit of hard work and have clay soil, you can dig it into the soil in large clumps. The frost will work to break it down which will make your life easier come spring.
After pulling out your tomato plants, it's best to burn them rather than putting them on the compost pile to prevent disease spread. Gather all the stakes used over the course of the growing season and treat them in a copper sulphate solution.
Remove all asparagus tips once they begin to yellow by cutting them down to a few centimetres from the ground using your secateurs. Spread a mature organic manure over the surface of the soil.
Seedlings and planting
Plant your spring cabbages in the ground or under a cold frame in northern regions.
Plant grey shallots around 2 cm down in fertiliser-free soil.
Sow your chervil root for an early summer harvest when the leaves turn yellow. You can even save it to eat the following winter – it'll be even better then!
In cooler areas, sow your seeds in cold frames (spring cabbages can go outdoors). Sow broad beans and snap peas in the ground but don't plant any garlic unless have a particularly light and permeable soil.
Dividing and protecting your herbs
At the start of the month, split your rhubarb plants and herbs (savory, oregano, chives, tarragon, mint, sorrel and so on). In colder parts of the country, cut back the plants and mulch around the base. Any herbs in their first year in the ground should also be covered by a fleece.
Cut back your tarragon to around a few centimetres from the ground to encourage leaf growth and earth up the base of the plant lightly (but uncover during rainy periods).
Planting fruit trees
Remove any damaged fruit from the ground or tree as it can harbour pests and disease.
Plant any small bare-root fruit bushes such as blackcurrants, raspberries, gooseberries, blackberries, blueberries, grapes and so on.
Mid-November is the ideal time to plant bare-root fruit trees such as apple, pear, peach, cherry and plum trees.
Caring for ornamental plants
Protecting perennials from frost
Remove any wilting flowers from plants that have finished blossoming. Mulch the base of any frost-sensitive plants and new fruit trees to help them adapt to their new environment.
Don't forget that a lot of perennial plants will lose vegetation in winter. Remember to mark out their position in the garden using small stakes.
Cut back any perennial and bulbous plants that will remain in the ground and mulch the base of dahlias, cannas and gladioli to protect them from frost. If you live in an area with particularly cold winters or if your soil is often water-logged in the wintertime it's best to bring in your bulbs and rhizomes indoors to a dry, dark spot.
Now is your last chance to plant tulips and bluebells in tightly packed beds for the most attractive effect.
Which flowers can I sow in November?
You will have a fairly limited choice when it comes to sowing flowers at this time of year. That said, you can sow garden monkshood seeds and if you live in the south of the country you can try planting sweet peas to enjoy a scented blossom come spring.
Planting ornamental shrubs
Trim back any shrubs that have finished blossoming.
Continue to dead head your rose bushes and mulch any cold-sensitive varieties.
Plant any bare root roses (bushes, shrubs and climbing varieties) in the ground or in containers.
Mowing and scarifying the lawn
If you didn't already do so in October, scarify the lawn using a scarifier and, if necessary, mow one last time using a tall grass setting.
If you sowed a new lawn in September, mow it now.
Perform annual maintenance on your lawnmower or ride-on mower and prepare it for winter storage.
From preparing your seedlings to planting vegetables and flowers, trimming fruit trees and caring for flower beds, there are plenty of garden tasks to keep you busy throughout the year. To be sure never to miss a trick around your vegetable patch, garden, orchard, balcony or deck, follow our other guides.
Guide written by:
John, Passionate gardener, Cambridge, 61 guides
When I was young, I was already working in the family garden. Perhaps that is where my interest in plants and gardening came from. So, it was logical for me to study both plant biology and agronomy. At the request of various publishers I have, over twenty-five years, written many books on the subject of plants and mushrooms (a subject that is close to my heart).They were mostly identification guides at first, but shortly after they were about gardening, thus renewing the first passion of my childhood. I have also regularly collaborated with several magazines specializing in the field of gardening or more generally in nature. There is no gardener without a garden, I have cultivated mine in a small corner of Cambridge for the last thirty years and this is where I put into practice the methods of cultivation that will I advise you in as well.