November 2012 Newsletter

November is a good month for planting new fruit trees and bushes, plants are dormant and can be planted anytime from now until March provided the ground is not too wet or frosty. Although plants are dormant underground they will be actively growing in the soil putting out new roots to give you a strong healthy plant in spring. There are trees to suit every garden, with plenty of self-fertile varieties such as the frost hardy Scrumptious. It has been bred for growing in all conditions throughout the UK and is disease resistant, thin skinned and can be eaten straight from the tree making it an ideal garden variety.

Egremont Russet is a classic variety with a nutty flavour all of its own. Or why not try something completely different - the Cider Apple Crimson King has large, sharp fruit just right for pressing and making your own cider! Crab Apple Golden Hornet is a small tree with masses of small golden-yellow fruit from October that just beg to be turned into jellies and chutneys and it is a pretty tree when covered in spring blossom and makes a good pollinator for most apple trees too.

Make the most of a cold frame or greenhouse by sowing quick growing salad crops to over winter.  Imagine nipping out over the Christmas period to pick your own salads! Try Lettuce Winter Density and Bright and Spicy Salad Mix, or try quick growing Perpetual Spinach! Much more satisfying than opening a bag of allegedly ‘fresh’ salad leaves from the supermarket that have been washed in goodness knows what to stop them going limp! Gro-Beds are perfect for over-wintering in a greenhouse, enabling you to maximise the space giving lots of winter salads and early spring crops.

PeasThere is still enough time to sow Broad Bean Aquadulce Claudia and Pea Douce Provence - they are tough enough to come through the winter. If you live in a very cold area or have trouble with mice, sowing your broad beans and peas in pots in a cool greenhouse, can give a more reliable germination. Sow one seed per 7cm (3in) pot or in Rootrainers filled with multipurpose compost. Water in and keep in a cool but frost-free place. Do not grow in a heated greenhouse as they need cool conditions and will fail to germinate if it is too warm. If you want the very earliest and sweetest Mangetout Peas and you live in a mild area, you could try sowing Oregon Sugar Pod in pots or Rootrainers under a warm layer of Horticultural Fleece or a cloche to give you early pickings from May.


GarlicThe best Garlic needs a long growing season and a good cold period for the cloves to develop properly, so there is still plenty of time to order your Autumn Planting Garlic Bulbs. If you don’t have space in your veg plot just yet there is also a very good selection of Garlic for planting in early spring. If your harvested onions are nicely dry store them in onion nets to allow good airflow and keep them dry. Or you can plait them by the stems and hang them strung together in a cool airy place.

Strawberries Growing and picking your own Soft Fruit is such a wonderful experience and you don’t need a huge garden to be able to grow some of your own. They need to be planted from autumn to early spring so now is the perfect time to begin growing these superb plants in your own garden. Raspberries, Strawberries, Blackberries, Gooseberries and Currants can all be planted any time from November to March provided the soil is not frozen or waterlogged. They will grow in most soils but a bit of preparation beforehand will reap dividends for your future crops. Make sure that the site is in a sunny spot.

Soft fruit is very versatile and can be grown in just about any situation, in containers, on walls and fences trained as cordons or fans so anyone can grow their own soft fruit.



Tips for the garden...

GreenhouseTidy up your plot remove all yellow and dead leaves from over-wintering brassicas  and lightly fork over adding plenty of home-made compost, Organic Extra or leafmould to rot down over winter encouraging worm activity to help aerate your soil. Empty and tidy the greenhouse and removing any old dirty pots and clear up any lingering bits of rubbish and old compost as all these can harbour pests and diseases which will be ready to pounce on your precious plants as soon as the weather warms up in the spring. Give the glass a good clean to get rid of algae etc allowing more light to be available especially if you are over-wintering frost tender plants in the greenhouse. Citrox is a powerful concentrated organic disinfectant for cleaning greenhouses, pots, staging, tools and seed trays.

It doesn’t harm plant material in any way so may also be used to disinfect water for washing cuttings, bulbs and corms. It is pleasant smelling, safe and effective and will eliminate any fungal or bacterial spores that may be lurking in those cracks and corners. Citrox is also an effective cleaner for pond accessories and can be used to clean bird tables, feeders and bird baths. It can also be added to water butts to keep water sweet and free from disease.

Fleece Watch the weather forecast and if a very sharp frost is forecast give your Cold Frame some extra help by covering with a couple of layers of Horticultural Fleece overnight to ensure your crops stay snug and warm. You can also cover any crops growing in the greenhouse to give them just a bit of extra warmth if it’s really cold outside. Remove the Fleece during the day to maximise the light and if the weather is fine don’t forget to open the cold frame and greenhouse door, as ventilation is still as important as ever and on sunny winter days the greenhouse temperature can rise dramatically and should be ventilated freely except on days when there is a very cold breeze which can quickly nip your plants! Don’t forget to close the vents and the door in the late afternoon when the temperature can drop considerably.

fruit Prepare the ground before planting soft fruit by thoroughly working the area to remove all weeds including their roots and dig in as much well rotted organic matter as possible. Summer fruiting Raspberries will need the support of stakes and wires as they grow and it is best to put these in place in advance of planting to avoid accidental damage to your young canes. When planting any Soft FruitStrawberries, Raspberries, Blackcurrants, Blackberries or Gooseberries – make sure the hole is large enough to spread out the roots and is a depth of just above the existing soil mark on the stem.

This will encourage better root growth. Using Rootgrow Mycorrhizal Fungi as you plant will give plants a really good start. It helps plants to establish quicker, grow better and the mycorrhiza will be effective throughout its life. Rootgrow is endorsed by the Royal Horticultural Society too!


leavesAs you rake up and clear away fallen leaves don’t let them go to waste. Recycling autumn leaves is one of the easiest ways to make free garden compost. Good Leaf mould improves the structure and water-holding capacity of soil and helps creates the best conditions for the myriad of beneficial organisms that live in your soil. It’s so easy to make too, make some holes in the bottom of black bin liners fill up with leaves, packing them well down if they are very dry give them a sprinkling of water. Tie the tops and store the bags in a shady spot and forget about them for a year or so.

Chopped or shredded leaves will break down quicker but this isn’t a necessity, a quick way to do chop them is to run over them with a lawn mower, the grass that is cut and mixed with them will also help with the composting process. Any deciduous leaves can be used and you will end up with lovely crumbly leaf mould which you can spread as a mulch on your borders and around fruit trees. It is particularly valuable applied to raised beds or the vegetable patch in autumn as soil improver and winter mulch for bare soil, where it will suppress weeds and add valuable humus.