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Andrew Tokely's Gardening Tips for November! 02 November 2023

November is normally a good month to tidy up gardens and vegetable plots and use the long dark evenings to plan for next year. With the recent wet weather through the end of October and early November, tidying up may have to wait a little, as keeping off the soil and lawns might be more advisable.  
1. One job that can be done early this month, whatever the weather, is planting Amaryllis bulbs, so you will be able to enjoy them indoors from Christmas, going into January. I like to simply plant a single bulb, in a 13-15cm (5-6in) pot, so it is sitting on the high side, so only the bottom 1/3 of the bulb is covered with compost. Give the compost a little water, stand it on a warm windowsill and watch it grow.
2. Before we get any very cold and frosty weather, it is important to protect pot grown Fig plants. These should be moved into a cold glasshouse or under a carport, as this will help protect any small embryo figs from frost damage. As these small figs will produce your fig crop next year.
3. Seed and plant catalogues are falling through the letterbox each week at the moment. Take advantage of the long winter evenings and browse through the pages and plan your crops, or display for the year ahead. Early ordering is always advisable to guarantee you get the seeds and plants you require.
4. Any containers you have plants growing in for the winter months are best raised slightly off the ground from now through to the spring. Simply stand your pots on some stones, bricks or laths of wood, as this will help to keep the drainage hole off the ground and allow free drainage. This helps prevent your containers becoming waterlogged during very wet spells of weather, like we have had recently.
5. Once the soil starts to dry out and is not waterlogged, autumn is the ideal time for planting new trees and shrubs into your garden whilst they are going into a dormant state. Planting at this time of year will help them get established through the winter and allow the roots to settle before next spring. Always prepare the soil well before planting adding plenty of organic matter and a sprinkle of bone meal and some Mycorrhizal friendly fungi to the planting hole, all will help the plants establish quicker.
6. November is the best month to plant Tulip bulbs. These should be planted at least twice the bulb depth. Plant in an open sunny site in borders or containers. There is also still plenty of time to plant Daffodils and Crocus as well if not already done.
7. If, like me, you enjoy growing fresh vegetables, well this month is the perfect time to sow some Broad beans and Peas outside on the vegetable plot, provided the soil is not waterlogged. When sowing Broad beans at this time of year, you will need a hardy variety like Aquadulce Claudia, and a hardy variety of Peas like Meteor. Both Peas and Beans should be sown in drills, on the vegetable plot, and are best sown under cloches for early winter protection. Sowing these vegetables this month will give you an early harvest next spring. If the soil is too wet this month, you can sow right up to early December and still achieve good crops next year.
8. Vegetable plots can have the last of old crops removed to the compost heap and the plot cleaned up ready for winter digging later in year. Empty rotted down compost heaps onto spare ground, or have deliveries of well rotten farm yard manure or mushroom compost. These can be spread on the soil ready for winter digging. I like to try and get this digging done before the weather gets too bad, so the plot can be left clean and tidy over winter, and allow the winter weather to help break up the soil ready for next spring. 
9. Soft fruit bushes at this time of year will benefit from having a thick mulch of well-rotted farmyard manure or old compost put around the base of each plant. This will help keep the ground free from weeds as well as add nutrients to the soil, and increase your crop next year. Working in some High potash fertiliser into the soil around bushes at this time of year will also help encourage fruiting next year.
10. Garlic can be Planted in November, direct into the vegetable plot. If the soil is too wet, plant the individual cloves into small pots and place in a cold frame or cold greenhouse. These will start to grow and can be planted outside later as soon as soil conditions improve.

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