Gardening for dummies: 5 November tips
The nights are drawing in and the weather's on the turn, which means it's time to prep your patch for hibernation. We've pumped expert Jackie Hunt for her top gardening tips...
Jackie Hunt has worked as gardener and estate manager at the award-winning Turn End gardens in Haddenham, Bucks, since 2010. Before that, she was a gardener for the National Trust and ran her own garden design and maintenance business – so if anyone knows how to keep your patch pretty through the long, dark winter, it’s her! Here are Jackie’s top tips for November…
Keep collecting leaves
This month’s colder, windy and rainy weather should bring down the last of the leaves from deciduous trees and shrubs. Keep collecting them, particularly from lawns and beds, where they smother and block out light. I find a springbok rake with retractable tines is good for delicately flicking leaves out from between and under plants. Also keep netting leaves off ponds.
Plant tulip bulbs
November is a good time to plant tulip bulbs, as the colder weather can help to wipe out any fungal and viral diseases that may be in the soil. Dig a hole that is at least 3 times the height of the bulb – some people like to plant even deeper, as shallowly planted bulbs tend to put their energy into reproducing bulblets rather than flowering again in future years. Add a sprinkle of bonemeal to the base of the planting hole and on heavy clay soils you can also add a 5cm layer of grit to the bottom of the planting hole and mix in with the soil. Plant the bulb with the pointed end facing up, and fill in the planting hole with soil.
Prepare pots for winter
The small environment of a container is much more susceptible to the ravages of winter, so try to move them into a greenhouse or sheltered place near the house. It also helps to raise pots off the floor with pot feet, to keep them draining well. If you can’t relocate pots, wrap them in situ. I insert canes or plant supports into the pot to make a frame around the plant, then I like to wrap both pot and plant in a couple of layers of horticultural fleece, then tie this on securely with string. You can buy fleece at garden centres, where they can cut the length you need from a roll. You an also buy ready made ‘jackets’ for pots.
Give nature a helping hand
This year has provided a bounty of fruits, berries and nuts, but you can help birds through tougher times by regularly putting out food for them. A range of feeders is ideal for different birds, including feeders for birds such as blackbirds that feed on the ground. Keep bird baths or saucers of water clean and topped up. Also help hibernating animals and insects by not keeping the garden too tidy (not difficult for most of us!). Our hedgehogs make their winter homes in swirls of dry bamboo leaves, and ladybirds love to hide away in hollow, dry stems.
Protect Trees from Winter Moth
Winter moth caterpillars eat holes in the leaves of many deciduous trees and shrubs during spring. Apple, pear, cherry and plum trees are particularly susceptible. You can help protect plants by applying a grease band around the trunk of the tree. This traps some of the wingless females as they climb the trees in autumn in winter to mate.