November

Having a funny moment.  I don’t know if you remember that there was an episode of WKRP in Cinncinnatti where the DJ Johnny Fever couldn’t go on air as he realised people were actually listening to his show….and I’m having a Johnny Fever moment!  I keep having conversations about how to go global with my newsletter…..self promote…..use certain words ….. get hits…..attract readership.  I’m a small, friendly, unambitious gardener who loves her job and stopped tap dancing on tables screaming “look at me, look at me” aged 7 (ok there was that one tequila based incident in 1998 but we all have our moments).  I only started this newsletter as I was all full up with lovely clients so couldn’t get to some of you to help, and you asked for a monthly update of jobs to do in the garden, I’m obedient like that.  Now I have graphs of how many of you click which button and new readers and, ok here’s the real problem – there are more than just you two out there reading this.   I can’t think what to write,  I feel like I want to stay underground – not just figuratively either.  So grab a spade and lets see where we can tunnel too!! Whilst we dig a hole (or you stand by and watch me dig one for myself) we could also tackle some of this months jobs so please have a look below and let’s go garden.  Matt often brings his talents to the newsletter and hurrah he’s back!  I’m thinking of renaming his section ‘know your foe’ or ‘too interesting to kill’ as he goes and slyly educates me, it is sort of frustrating. For my solo event I’m going to turn my attention to blabbing about wind. This is the month to prevent wind damage – which makes me childishly chuckle, but lets see if I can pull myself together and deliver some sound gardening help.  Finally the days out bit has an adventure or three for us to get out there to enjoy the gusty weather.

Seasonal Jobs

Make sure you shoo any beasties out of your bonfires before you light up. Also this month you could:

  • Cut back any perennial plants that won’t look majestic as frost covered winter interest. Remember the birds and leave your sunflower heads out and also any fennel.
  • The female winter moth can’t fly but wants to crawl up your fruit trees to lay her eggs. You don’t want this as the caterpillars will hatch and eat all your leaves in the spring. So prevent this now by popping on a grease band. A good one is Bayer Boltac’s or just apply grease directly such as Vitax (oh and there is a sale on – where else can we apply it?)
  • This is a great month for planting trees and climbers, please get in touch for seasonal bargains and if you’d like some help to plant up.
  • Make sure whippy shoots of climbing plants are securely tied in, before the winter winds pick up.
  • Net any veg against hungry pigeons (for some reason I always want to put a ‘d’ in the word pigeon!)
  • Almost missed the boat for sowing green manure on your vegetable beds but if you did want to put some down, then try sowing some grazing rye or forage pea. Look here to buy some or get more information, I’m loving this site.
  • If the ground is not too frozen or too claggy then dig, dig, and manure your plot.
  • Order your roses now don’t delay, my favourite place to shop is David Austin.
  • If you have a submersible pump in your pond and lights then, roll up those sleeves and remove them for winter. Give them a good check over so you can avoid that lovely electricity-water mix. Please err on the side of caution and get them replaced or repaired now if needs be.
  • Clear your pond of leaves and put a net over the top to help you in your quest. This is particularly important if you have fish as the decaying leaves give off toxic gases as they rot.
  • Rip open those packets, as you can now plant your Tulip and Hyacinth Bulbs.
  • Keep raking up those leaves, but don’t bin them, compost them in black bags with holes in. Or simply put into the lovely love ’em and leave ’em sacks.
  • If you are lucky enough to have a wormery then move it somewhere frost proof to prevent mass murder when the first frost comes. If you don’t have a suitable site then wrap your wormery up in fleece.
  • After you have done a bit of weeding this month, then mulch with a thick layer of well-rotted compost or manure or bark chipping.
  • Time to wrap up or lift your tender plants such as Canna’s, Banana’s, Tree Fern’s and Dahlia’s. For smaller tender’s then just pop a cloche over the top.
  • Divide up any congested perennials like rudbeckias, dianthus and campanula’s.
  • Plant up or freshen up your pots and hanging baskets. Pop in some bulbs underneath your chosen planting scheme so you can forget about them and be surprised in spring.
  • Clear out and wash down greenhouses. If you aren’t using them to grow or protect any plants then leave all the doors and windows open so the frost can put paid to any pests.
  • For any advice or help then please get in touch.

Matts Bit

Feeling sluggish?
Slugs and snails frequent cool and damp places in order to avoid
predators and dehydration, and unfortunately for us, the average UK weather is very slug and snail friendly.  Most slugs and snails live near the soil surface and use all manner of refuges as hiding places. Snails have an advantage for sheltering from predators and dry conditions in their shells, but the shell being made of calcium carbonate, means that they are more likely to be found where the soils are less acidic.  Slugs on the other hand are better at burrowing into the soil, or hiding in small cracks in logs and stones especially as
they don’t have to bring a shell with them.

Most species of slugs and snails are generalist feeders meaning they feed on decaying plant matter, algae, and lichens.  Of the 30 or so UK species of slugs, only four species feed on the higher plants therefore making pests of themselves in our gardens, some others predate on each other and at least one species of slug predates earthworms.

Slugs and snails are hermaphrodite meaning each individual possesses both male and female reproductive organs, but despite this mating between individuals occurs.  Up to several hundred eggs are produced by each individual during the summer and autumn months. These eggs develop over time and result in miniature versions of the adult which grow to maturity over the next few years.

The main predators of slugs and snails are birds, small mammals and beetles, but with an estimated 200 slugs per cubic metre of soil, there’s plenty to go around.

Gone with the wind.

This time of year it can get seriously windy! So what can go wrong in the garden and how can we right it?

Wind rock?  Roses, Buddleja, Lavatera and Cornus are prone to the windrock.  If it gets windy the plants sway (doh!) and can become uprooted, or snap at the base.

What to do?  What to do? Cut the plants back by a half, this gives it less plant for the wind to blow, so less wobble so less distruction. No need for fancy-pancy pruning techniques as this isn’t the main prune this is just damage limitation. Easy peasy.

Wind scorch? Here we need a combo of an evergreen plant, poor soil conditions and a cold wind.  The leaves get all scorched, crinkly and brown.

What to do?  What to do? Please wait until spring to cut off the dead leaves. Once you’ve restrained yourself there are four main things you could look at.  Firstly if the plant is in a pot then move it to a sheltered spot, I know, I know it sounds obvious but sometimes life gets in the way of thinking about moving a pot.  Secondly, if your affected plant is in the ground, and this is a seasonal problem and not a persistant windy problem, then just pop a fleece over the plant.  Thirdly (but also you can do this anyway)  put a good mulch of well-rotted compost or bark around the plant to keep moisture in the soil.  Lastly if this is always a windy site then look to move the plant or put up a wind break, I’ve put this in a bit more detail below so have a look for some suggestion.

Wind breaks! Some gardens need a bit of help with a constant wind problem (I’m sorry I’m still finding this funny!) by putting in a permanent windbreaks.  Hedges and trees can help diffuse the wind and provide an excellent shelter for our wobbly shrubs and roses.  It is best to use deciduous plants for a wind break – as the wind picks up the same time of year as the leaves fall and so you have a nice diffused wind which doesn’t rip into your plants.  If you plant up evergreens they can be such a good windbreak they shoot the wind round in a vortex – causing turbulence on the leewardside, and that’s not helpful to anyone, especially hat wearers.  If you haven’t time to wait for a hedge to grow then a nice wind diffusing fence, something made of hazel, not too tightly knitted else you are vortex bound. If you need a temporary wintery solution and don’t mind a bit of an eyesore then you could put up the good old-fashioned green netting.

Days Out

Have you found the new garden centre in Penge?  My friend Flo directed me to Alexandra Nursery in Parish Lane and I’m so pleased she did as it is perfect in every way.  The plants are extremely good quality, the advice and help is top-notch.  They serve tea and cake and have a small smattering of art upstairs for sale, tea sets and an interesting array of gifts downstairs.  It fells like a real find, a proper delight. Lets keep it our secret.

Every Sunday in November we can go on a Twilight Tour at Eltham Palace.  I love the grounds there but I’m guessing we might be indoors for this little treat, maybe we can slope off.

November in Crystal Palace Park… always a crunchy delight but maybe you’d like some more gardening education?  Well get yourself up to the farm on Saturday 17th between 12 and 4 and have a look at the brilliant courses the distinguished Capel Manor College can provide, right on our doorstep.

Finally I went to a Sheffield Park to look at the trees and spent most of my time finding the most amazing mushrooms last weekend and I am sure you would delight in the experience!