Gardening Advice | November

Our resident plant expert, Phil McCann, shares his top tips as you head out into the garden this November.

Top November Gardening Tips:

  • Check stored produce
  • Plant tulip bulbs
  • Net brassicas
  • Plant shrubs and trees
  • Get yourself a cold frame
  • Edge your lawn
  • Plant fruit bushes
  • Feed the birds
  • Firm in plants, shrubs and trees
  • Raise containers off the floor

Overview of November:

There’s an unmistakable whiff to November. It may be the lingering bonfires, the final leaves rotting down on wet pavements or simply the atmosphere of a freshly cleaned greenhouse. It really is a beautiful month where many plants take their final bow for the year only to be replaced with the promise of sparkling winter jewels. And there’s plenty to be doing all month. You wouldn't expect anything less.

Check stored produce:

Potatoes and apples are the usual crops that can be stored and used well into winter. Check for any signs of rotting and get rid of the offending individuals. Use any spuds that are marked first as they may rot later. And keep things in the dark. And frost free. 

Plant tulip bulbs:

All your other bulbs have been planted a week or so ago but now you can, with a clear conscience, get your tulips into the soil or containers. By the end of the month everything should really have been planted. Plant bulbs deep into the soil, three times their height is about right, and expect superb spring displays. 

Net brassicas:

Pigeons are after the tight buttons on your Brussels sprouts. They watch, they wait, they pounce - so protect your hard-grown crops now. Remember: if you don’t net it, you won’t get it. Same goes for any young plantings of spring cabbage. You can’t blame the pigeons as are they are only doing what comes naturally, but you can dissuade them.

Plant shrubs and trees:

It’s a great time for planting trees and shrubs as the ground is still warmish, definitely moist and the plants are slowing down so won’t notice you knocking them out of their pots and installing them in your beds and borders. Sprinkle mycorrhizal fungi on the roots to help quick establishment of the plants.

Get yourself a cold frame:

A plunging temperature doesn’t bother many plants but when combined with water it can be a killer. A cold frame is an essential part of any garden as it can offer protection to tender plants, keep the damp and wet off many others and, in a few weeks, will house many of your precious seedlings making the tentative transition from greenhouse to the great outdoors. 

Edge your lawn:

The grass may have stopped growing but a quick tidy up of your lawn edges will make things look razor sharp. A lawn edger is the best tool for the job - lay out string or hosepipe as a marker and slice away. Nice. 

Plant fruit bushes:

November is the best time for planting fruit bushes. If the weather is mild and not waterlogged your new plants will settle in quickly, even putting root growth on over the winter in readiness for bountiful crops next year. And not having leaves on the plants makes planting easier - no wrestling with fully laden plants.. 

Feed the birds:

A regular sprinkling of quality bird food will do wonders for the health and vibrancy of your local feathered population. Clean drinking water is also a great idea to maintain your local birds. They not only look great but work hard at maintaining a balance of wildlife. Once you’ve see blue tits searching out aphids or a song thrush smashing a snail or two, you’ll know it’s been worth the effort. 

Firm in plants, shrubs and trees:

The recent storms have rocked top heavy plants and some may now be exposing roots. Check your roses and firm the base of the plant with the heel of your boot. It will prevent the plant from rocking, causing damage and allowing diseases to enter the plant. And check tree ties are still doing their job - too slack and you might as well not bother but too tight may well strangle expansion.

Raise containers off the ground:

Water can get trapped below some containers causing the compost to become waterlogged which in turn can lead to roots rotting. Raise pots off the ground with pot feet or even some old bricks. It helps drainage and could save your precious roots.