Your gardening calendar: Top tasks for November!
Our monthly calendar guides focus on what we do: Wildflowers, edible crops and wildlife. Here, we'll take you step-by-step through the most important sowing, growing and nature-friendly tasks for November.
Sowing and growing fruit, vegetables and herbs
Plant your soft fruit bushes
This might sound strange if it’s dreich and cold outside - but November is actually the perfect time to plant soft fruit bushes.
Black, red and white currants, raspberries, tayberries, brambles and gooseberries are all good plants to get in the ground as ‘bare root’ stock - in other words while they’re dormant.
The RHS has put together a great series of soft fruit growing guides here.
Plant your rhubarb
This is also a good time to plant new rhubarb crowns (as opposed to seeds). Make sure you choose a patch of ground that drains well, and dig in lots of well-rotted manure or garden compost.
Protect outdoor herbs
If you have herbs growing outdoors in pots, you’ll need to protect them from frost around now.
You can do this by wrapping them in hessian sacking, garden fleece or even leftover bubble wrap you’ve been sent in the post. Tie it tightly around the pot with string or twine.
It’s also worth raising herb pots off the ground a little in November - for example on bricks or thick tiles - to avoid them getting waterlogged over winter.
Read this Gardeners’ World guide to find out more.
Top tips to help wildlife
This is a big one: If you’re having a bonfire (either on 5th November, or just to burn garden waste) PLEASE check for hibernating wildlife first!
Hedgehogs, toads, frogs and lots of other wee creatures shelter and hibernate in woodpiles as the weather gets colder - so the alternative doesn’t even bear thinking about.
Our tip is to build your wood pile from scratch on the day you plan to burn. That means there’s less chance anyone will set up home there before you light it...
Build a minibeast log pile
Instead of burning fallen branches and other excess wood, why not create a log pile specifically for wildlife?
Located in a quiet, shady spot, it could soon become home to all sorts of insects, amphibians and mammals. Here’s how to do it.
Start feeding the birds
As soon as the first hard frost arrives, starting feeding your garden birds. This will help them build up the fat reserves that will be crucial to get them through a hard winter.
If you’re putting out suet balls, please take them out of the plastic nets first. Birds can get their feet and legs horribly caught up in them. Instead, put fat balls or blocks in wire cages.
Finches and sparrows love sunflower seeds, wrens enjoy grated cheese and bacon rind, tits adore insect cake, and hanging peanut feeders are always a popular all-round choice!
Just remember that many garden birds (including robins, blackbirds and thrushes) are ground feeders. So it’s worth placing a mesh dish of food just off the ground, to help them out.
Try to maintain a regular feeding schedule once you’ve started. Birds will start to expect the extra food you're putting out, so that will ensure they don’t waste energy turning up for their breakfast only to find there’s nothing there.
This Wildlife Trusts guide has lots more bird feeding tips, and shows you how to make your own bird feeder.
Plant a native hedgerow
Finally - now is the time to start your very own wildlife hedgerow! Native countryside plants like hawthorn, blackthorn, beech and holly can be mixed together to create a brilliant environment for nature.
A good mixed hedgerow will become a nesting destination during spring, provide berries during autumn, and be warm place to shelter over winter.
As with the soft fruit bushes we mentioned earlier, dormant bare root hedging can be planted during November, to start growing in the spring.
If you’re in Scotland, Scot Plants Direct in Fife has a great range to choose from. In England, check out Habitat Aid in Somerset.