November – remember, remember…..
The clocks have changed so it is dark by about 6.00pm especially if it is a gloomy day. Despite this it can still be relatively mild so weeds continue to grow.
The grass may still be growing so as long as the soil is not waterlogged or frozen you can continue to mow occasionally. However, don’t cut it short. Leaving the grass slightly longer will help it cope better with the winter. Doing the edges finishes it off and leaves it looking tidy. Spending some time edging stepping-stone paths will be repaid when you need to get down the garden without getting your feet wet and muddy!
The main job through November is likely to be leaf-clearing . If your lawn is not waterlogged put the mower on a high setting and use it to pick up the majority. Raking up those leaves that are stuck in the grass also helps to remove the thatch (old growth) from your lawn so it goes into the winter in the best possible shape.
As the last of your herbaceous plants die back in the borders finish clearing and mulching. The mulch protects the plants over the winter and provides a slow-release food. It also provides somewhere for small creatures to hibernate. Try to avoid crossing waterlogged lawns with your wheelbarrow though. Wheeling over a plank helps spread the load and minimises damage to your lawn. This is good job to keep you warm on a chilly day.
If you have not already done so get your spring and early-summer bulbs planted. Those in the ground from previous years are beginning to push up through the soil. Although the appearance on the surface is of the garden shutting down it is good to know that next year’s flowers are already on their way.
Dahlia tubers will need to come indoors once the foliage has been frosted and turned black. Cut off all the growth and leave tubers upside down for a couple of days, under cover, to drain. I plant mine in a pot of dry compost and put them in my lean-to which is frost-free and dry. I then forget about them until the spring.
Although heading into wetter weather don’t forget to keep an eye on your pots as they can still get very dry. The foliage acts as an umbrella over the top so the rain is unable to reach the soil beneath. Pots are best lifted slightly as it helps to prevent the base from freezing. You can buy pot feet or a couple of old bricks/roof tiles will also do the job.
As the berries finish and the temperatures begin to drop the birds would appreciate feeding. Put feeders where birds are less likely to be picked off by hungry cats. A bird table placed near to bushes gives small birds somewhere to hide should they feel threatened.
Finally, it is bonfire season. However, before you light it check the pile or move it to make sure there are no animals snuggled in the bottom of it. Hedgehogs in particular are fond of an unlit bonfire heap to hibernate in.