We are already some way into November – how did that happen? I think I imagined that things would slow down by now on the gardening front but actually my to do list is really long and I feel like there is a rush to get everything in place before December comes. By then I want to have finished all the autumn gardening jobs to focus on getting ready for Christmas. We have had the most gorgeous autumn weather here in London, misty mornings followed by sunny clear days. Perfect gardening weather which draws you outside the moment you open the curtains in the morning. Fingers crossed it stays like this for a while longer so I can get everything on my list ticked off in the next couple of weeks. Here is what I will be doing in the garden this month:
Planting spring bulbs
Now is the time to get all those bulbs into the ground. A somewhat daunting prospect if, like me. you like having a lot of them. When all the bulbs have arrived and I lay them out to get myself organised, the realisation hits that the one who will have to plant them all is…me. It is so much fun to browse the websites and order the best varieties but I must confess that planting them is not my favourite job. But of course it is all worth it when spring comes around and you have all that unreal beauty in your own back garden so best to just get on with it. The good news is that tulips in pots are super easy and quick to do – I have actually toyed with the idea of growing all my tulips in post just because it is so much easier. But I do want them in the beds too so I need to set aside a few days to get this job done. Digging hundreds of holes in fairly heavy soil is very hard work so this year I have invested in a long handled bulb planter and I’m hoping this will make it a lot easier.
Order bare root roses
November is the start of bare root rose season and I always get a few new roses at this time of year. Buying bare root roses are a great way of building up a collection of them as they are more affordable than potted ones. You can plant them any time between November and March but I find it best to get them in now so they have more time to establish before flowering time next year. Also, if they are going into beds that will have bulbs, you need to plant your roses first so you don’t risk disturbing the bulbs. The trickiest thing about this is to choose which roses to go for. I have a long wishlist and will buy a few that I have been thinking about for a very long time. Exciting.
Lift and store Dahlia tubers
As soon as the first frost hits, Dahlia season is over. The plants will quickly wilt and go brown when the cold weather arrives and this means it is time to lift the tubers. In the UK, you can leave them in the ground and hope for the best – they should be fine if you add a bit of mulch on top to protect them from frost. I prefer to lift the bulbs so I can check how they are doing. All you need to do is dig up the tubers carefully, making sure not to damage them. Then you cut the stems off and shake the compost off. Some people rinse them in water to remove all the soil from around the root and tubers but I don’t bother – a little bit of dried mud left on them won’t do any harm. Leave the to dry for about a week then pack them away in a box and keep them somewhere dry and cool. And don’t forget to label them so you don’t end up with a lucky dip next near. I’m useless at labelling and remembering what things are but am determined to do it this properly this season.
Pot up indoor bulbs
For my birthday I received some indoor bulbs – lucky me! Now it is time to plant them up so the flower in time for Christmas. If you want to have paper whites or other indoor bulbs, make sure to buy the ones that are specially prepared for forcing.
Collect leaves to make leaf mould
This month I spend a lot of time picking up leaves. Absolutely love my gravel paths but it is not ideal when leaves fall. Each little cluster of leaves quickly rot down and become sludgy brown piles of growing material in which weeds can take take root and grow – quite amazing how quickly this happens in the moist, mild autumn ….. . So I have to keep on top of it and pick up all the leaves at least once a week. Most of the leaves go on the compost heap but I will stash some away in old used compost bags and let them rot done to become leaf mould. Leaf mould is a great mulch and can be ready to use in just six months. All you need to do is make sure there is some moisture on the bag and that it has some holes in for ventilation. If you don’t have many leaves to collect in your own garden, head out to a nearby park and pick up a few bags full of leaves. The feeling of using your own homemade mulch or compost is so great, it is totally worth the tiny amount of effort you put in.