Rushlake Green Village Leaf

berriesGardening Diary
November 2010

This monthly diary is intended as a brief reminder of jobs we should be doing in our gardens month on month. It will include, when appropriate, some information relevant to our location in East Sussex

If there is ice in November
that will bear a duck
there will be nothing after
but sludge and muck

The vegetable garden
Having dug in manure or compost, it is best to leave the soil in as large clumps as possible to maximise the surface area to frost and wind. Also keep an eye out for the roots of troublesome weeds, common to clay soil such as couch grass, docks and buttercups. If you live in a sheltered location you could sow broad beans and hardy peas now. The vegetable patch should be orderly and shipshape, yellowing leaves of the brussels sprout should be cleared away without delay. Don’t neglect to check over stored potatoes and apples, a bad one will spread its badness very quickly.

In gentle weather, November is prime time for planting. Remember to include plenty of planting compost, this should be mixed with the soil but if possible kept out of contact with the roots. This should encourage the roots to go in search of it. Newly planted conifers should be protected with windbreaks and if we have another winter like the last one, with fleece or frost protector bags.

Roses planted now do better than those planted after Christmas. Spread the roots evenly and plant leaving the point the plant was budded to the root stock at or just below the surface.

Hedging can be planted now too. As with all planting of shrubs and trees, adequate support is essential to stop the roots rocking. This can be given by stakes, or tying to a wire strained between two posts. Any oversized border plants should have been divided and relocated by now. Tender varieties such as Knipofia and Gunnera should be given some protection. The former by tying the leaves over the middle of the plant to keep out the wet, the latter by covering with straw or bracken. Hollyhocks can be cut down and divided now.

No need to be over fastidious in clearing the beds of leaves and small annual weeds, lightly forked in, these will rot down and do no harm.

Fruit trees
Pruning of pears and apples should be started. With bush trees, resist the urge to cut back too hard - this can result in too much growth and too little fruit the following year. Always best to under prune than over prune. Annual pruning should consist of removing dead, diseased and crossing branches and cutting back some laterals. Be sure to know your tree; tip and spur bearing fruit tees are pruned in different ways. It is best to consult the pictures in your gardening books for these. Many people prefer not to prune plums and cherries in winter because of the danger of infection by silver leaf disease. Check over trees for mummified fruits and remove as these can lead to disease spreading down the branch.

Composting & the greenhouse
Collecting of leaves is carrying on apace. Important not to let them lie and yellow the lawn. For gardens with any quantity of leaves a wire mesh leaf bin is useful. In theory, this should be divided into four sections with each one rotated into the next each time you empty a section. Some people don’t use certain leaves, sycamore for instance, though I hold nothing back, the tough shiny leaves just take a little longer to break down. Though leaf mould has little nutrient value, it is a good and free soil conditioner. All the more important on our clay soil.

The greenhouse may need to cleaned and disinfected now as this is the time to sow your annuals. Outdoor chrysanthemums can be lifted and stored in a tray lightly covered with soil.

This is a good time to ease compaction and aid drainage of the lawn. There are various lawn prickers on the market, but I find it better to use a fork pushed in four inches and pulled backwards so as to crack the surface. Sweep away worm casts with your besom, especially if you are contemplating a final light cut with the mower. Though of course, the reader will have remembered to thoroughly clean and oil the mower for storage over winter. If the weather is neither frosty nor too wet, this is a good month for laying turf, though the soil has lost too much warmth now for effective seed sowing.

And my favourite time of the gardening year will soon be upon us, namely using up all the family's hot water wallowing in the bath perusing next years seed catalogues.

This diary is contributed by Ross Atabey at Green & Great Gardens - We are local hard and soft landscaping, gardening and maintenance specialists. Feel free to contact us for more detailed advice on 07941 315214 or 01435 812153 or visit