November

November is often the month when the leaves reach their best autumnal colour and start to fall in earnest. Raking them up can seem like a chore but their addition to the compost heap is always beneficial.

As light levels change the lawn will slow its growth. Cut on a high blade and rake or scarify to get rid of dead grass and allow air and light to penetrate. Having enjoyed fresh produce all summer there is something highly satisfying about clearing spent crops and preparing the ground for next year.If like me you suffer from the visits of neighbouring cats, dig over and then cover with black membrane or old compost bags to keep the ground uncontaminated and weed free.

Parsnips,cabbage,leeks and swede will happily stay in situ for most of winter for use as and when needed. Any squashes or pumpkins that haven’t ripened fully will benefit from being placed in a sunny greenhouse or windowsill to harden for storage.

November is also an ideal time to plant bare root trees and divide and move established shrubs and perennials. Spring and flowering clematis can be cut back to ground level and mulched before the first hard frosts. November can be such a glorious month. The bare bones of our gardens begin to show without their foliage and it’s a great time to plan next years schemes and borders. No one should feel guilty about curling up with a cup of tea and next years gardening catalogues, that’s what nature made winters for isn’t it.

Maureen Smith

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