We’ve had a cold start to the season across the country. We are approximately three weeks behind the normal growing season. Fingers crossed there is no more snow to come. Although we can’t be so certain about the frost so keep everything undercover for a little while longer. Cloches and greenhouses are almost essential to get a good crop of capsicums or chillies and to get your tomatoes to ripen. November is all about getting everything set up for summer so you can do a bit more of relaxing in the garden.
Get your melons, pumpkins and squashes in this month as they need a good long hot season to produce a good harvest. When planting cover with a polythene cover to protect from cold nights and possible frosts, they will also get their roots in quicker. Extend the growing season by planting in the hottest place in the garden or by a wall which will radiate heat. Make sure you give them lots of space and good drainage. Courgettes also respond well to being under polythene until the weather is a little warmer. Give them a moisture retentive compost as they’ll need lots of water when fruiting.
If you haven’t already start trimming hedges to keep them in check. Trimming regularly makes keeping your hedging in size much easier rather than letting your hedge get huge and having to chop lots back. If this happens you will expose the woody insides of the hedge, this will green up in time but a little trimming twice a year means that this will not happen. If you are growing a new hedge hold off trimming it until it’s at the desired height you want it. When its above the height you want chop it back to the desired height. This will encourage the plant to bush out. When the laterals have grown passed your desired width trim those and eventually you’ll have a lovely bushy hedge. When trimming the hedge make it into an A shape, so that the bottom of the hedge will get light. Don’t neglect your hedge, keep improving the soil around the hedge by adding well-rotted manure, compost or other organic matter. You can give it a slow release fertiliser in spring if it is looking sorry for itself.
Get the mulch on the garden before the start of the hot weather. Mulch is a process not a product so many things can be termed as mulch. Some of the most popular being pea straw and bark or woodchip. Straw comes to an end towards the beginning of summer as stores from last years summer harvest are depleted. Getting it early and keeping it stored until you need in for the gap in summer is a good idea. Mulching is great for keeping weeds down too, if you don’t cover your ground in some way you will have weeds. In my opinion the best mulch is a green mulch, in other words ground cover plants. There is a vast selection of ground cover plants that have many benefits for the soil and ecology. Plus once they are in you’ll never have to buy mulch again. Although this doesn’t work for veggie beds.
We’ve had lot’s of reports of aphids and thrips. Aphids are easy to eradicate with a pyrethrum spray or an organic oil spray. However they are a very common insect that can fly and travel on the wind which then breed live young when on a plant. So infestations are very common each year. Aphids are one of natures way of providing natural selection and mostly prey on weaker plants. If you have plants with aphids it’s safe to say the plant has been stressed at some point so spray but also give the plant a feed. Also have a look to see if your soil needs improving or the plant is also in the right place. If the plants are in pots make sure they are getting enough water.
It’s time for summer bedding! Plant punnets of summer bedding to make a colourful display in pots or flower beds. Summer annuals are thirsty, hungry and heat loving plants. Put them in a hot place in potting mix or compost with added osmocote fertiliser. When planting in pots or hanging baskets add water crystals to the mix to increase the water holding capacity. My favourites are geraniums for bold displays, cosmos for filling borders and calendula for in the veggie garden.
Pheremone traps are being hung in apple trees now. Pheremone traps are a good indicator of when adult codling moths are starting to become active. This can give you an idea of the precautions you need to make to protect your crop. If you only have a few trees an effective protection is putting the apples in mesh bags. You can spray the trees but to get a decent control you would need to spray regularly or with a strong chemical all before the caterpillars get to the fruit. When they are in the fruit they are protected. Other measures are wrapping sticky bands or corrugated cardboard around the trunk in summer for removal in winter or let your chicken go free range around your fruit trees in winter.
For a top lawn ready for summer, give it a spray with weed and feed. If you have tougher weeds use a hydrocotyle or prickle spray weedkiller. In periods of drought, raise the height of the blade in your mower. Longer blades of grass are more drought tolerant than a shorter mown grass. Saving you time and water when watering your lawn. If you don’t want a lawn that needs mowing all the time hold off on the high nitrogen lawn fertilisers in summer and give the lawn a spray of seasol which will green the lawn without growth.
There’s lots lots more than can be done in the garden. If you have any other garden projects or questions don’t hesitate to come and see us or contact us. Our main aim is to make your garden healthy and beautiful. Enjoy the warm weather to come and ready your mint plants for all those mojitos.