For some unbeknownst reason, people don’t seem to be the biggest fans of November gardening. We don’t know why exactly, but it could have something to do with the fact it’s perpetually night time (bar that hour and a half of daylight either side of midday), or that feeling your fingers are about to drop off you get from fingerless gloves, or it may have a lot to do with the fact your little slice of the great outdoors has almost come to a complete stand still, like the M11 on a Friday afternoon or the M25 all day everyday, which makes you think, “what’s the point?”
Well, the point is there are plenty of things you could be cracking on with now that will help your garden get off to a flying start by the time winter is over (which we measure as the first morning your car isn’t completely iced up). A spot of lawn care, a touch of winter-proofing your shrubs and trees, a bit of time spent at your fruit and veg patch and a little bit of making leaf mould – it can all be experimented with now.
So, without further ado, here are the garden chores you can be keeping yourself busy with throughout the rest of November. Just remember to dress warmly and accept there is nothing wrong with wearing long johns – they’re as practical as they are liberating.
Play Doctor With Your Lawn
Don’t worry too much about trying to improve your grass right now, since the last thing we want is for you to catch a chill. You should be trying to maintain your lawn’s current state of affairs, however, which can be done in three (relatively) simple steps:
- Drag those weeds out of there. We don’t care if they kick and scream and hold a protest in front of 10 Downing Street, you need to kick them out of your garden; especially any broadleaf weeds because they’re just the worst when it comes to stealing nutrients and water from your grass.
- Dust off your rake and rid your lawn of leaves. This is a staple part of helping your lawn survive the wilds of winter. We know raking up leaves is more monotonous than the bleep of a supermarket checkout till, but it really will have a profound effect. That’s right, profound.
- Bye-bye Margaret THATCHer. Mmm hmmm. While your rake is out, now is the perfect time to wield it like a sword and force all that nasty thatch plaguing your lawn to wave the white flag and surrender. We call this scarification. If you have a severe case of thatch where the soil has gotten really compact then you may need a spot of aeration done, but we can sort that no problem.
Play Master Of All Mulch
What makes raking up leaves so incredibly frustrating is a) you having to chase stray leaves around your garden like they’re fugitives on the run and b) the fact it is all in vain. But it doesn’t have to be. Nope. Once you have raked up all those damp leaves, what you want to do is pop them in a bin bag, stab a few air holes into the lining, tie it up at the top and then leave it to rot until next autumn when, voila, you will have a bag full of gorgeously, crumbly leaf mould that will make the most delicious mulch. Mmmmmm, mulch, our third favourite word.
Play Defender Of All Trees & Shrubs
(We didn’t set out to make each sub-heading a roleplay adventure but, now we’ve started, we’re going to run with it.) Anyway, the good news is, protecting this part of your garden doesn’t require too much fuss. For the most part, you just need to give your trees and shrubs a healthy watering, the reason being they will struggle to draw anything when the ground freezes and their favourite drink becomes a solid. It is especially important to do this deep into autumn, when all the leaves have dropped, as it will be the last chance for your evergreens and deciduous trees to have a glug good enough to carry them right the way through the cold season. Don’t just water the ground around their trunks, though; water the ground under their entire canopy areas so that you are covering all the roots.
Play Commander Of The Compost Bin
Please don’t fall at the final hurdle. You’ve worked your backside off all spring, summer and autumn to get that compost pile looking fifty shades of great, so you’ll be absolutely so gutted to see your work go to waste now for something as silly as not making a lid for your bin. If your compost bin has a lid, then great, pop it on and leave it. Maybe put a brick on top just to make sure it doesn’t blow away in the winter winds. If your bin doesn’t have a lid, for whatever reason, then cover it with something like tarpaulin and tape-slash-brick it down. Another little tip to prevent your compost from getting ruined by the cold is to surround your bin with bin liners full of raked leaves. This will insulate your compost right the way through winter and make it ready for use as soon as you need it.
And Last But Not Least, Your Fruit, Veggies, Perennials & Bulbs
Stepping out from under the trees and into the parts of your garden that require a little more, how do we say, attention, there are a few things you can do now to help your garden along. In terms of planting, now is a pretty good time to plant winter onions and garlic cloves, as well as any delicious and nutritious soft fruits you fancy, such as raspberries and blackberries. Oh, and maybe cover any greens you’re still growing – like cabbages and Brussel sprouts – as you’ll find pests of every kind are on the prowl before hibernation kicks in. As for your perennials and bulbs, THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE TO PLANT MOST SPRING BULBS (excuse the capitals but we didn’t know how else to convey the urgency here).