The gardening season is almost at an end. The roses dropped their last petals some time ago, the perennials are preparing for hibernation and the squirrels are stocking up before the winter months. We've still got lots to do in the garden. We're making the most of the last sunny days in November and preparing for the winter frost.
When it starts getting cold and unpleasant in the garden, the birds need our help. They will have soon eaten all the berries and seeds. That's why it's a good idea to offer them food now! Then lots of birds will be happy to keep visiting your garden. But don't forget: if you've started to feed them, you should continue all winter. The birds will start to trust that you will give them food and some of them will have flown a long way to your garden. This takes a lot of strength and energy, and they don't have much of that during this time of year. This is why bird food has a lot of calories. Bread and rice can be eaten quickly. Grated cheese and boiled potatoes are also very popular. Blackbirds and thrushes love pieces of fruit. Robins, tits and wrens love dried mealworms. You can also hang fat balls in trees, fill bird feeders with seed mixes or leave some treats on your outdoor table. Make sure the feeding area is always clean and that there is fresh water available.
CLEAN AND PACK UP YOUR GARDEN EQUIPMENT NOW
Use this time to prepare your garden equipment for winter. You don't want it to be damaged by frost, damp, mould or rust. That's why it's important to remove all dirt and all rust stains on your shovel, rake and hoe. Then you can oil all the metal parts. Make sure that your spade handle is attached properly. If it's damaged you can replace it. Garden and hedge trimmers should also be cleaned properly now. Take them apart to clean them. Dirt and resin residues are often hidden in places that you can't get to without taking the equipment apart. You can remove dirt with olive oil or chemical petrol. When you've cleaned and oiled your tools you can store them neatly in the shed. Don't forget to tidy away your hosepipe. You can store it somewhere safe. Clean it and store it somewhere it won't get too cold. Empty the pipes before storing them. You can also turn off the water supply to the garden - but remember to leave the taps open.
STORE YOUR LAWNMOWER FOR THE WINTER
It's a good idea to carry out maintenance on your lawn mower so it's ready for spring. First remove dried grass and mud from the lawnmower. You can do this with a small brush. Clean the cutting blades with a rag or suitable brush. Be careful, don't cut yourself! Oil the clean parts. Then they'll be clean and ready for spring. Make sure the blades are sharp. A specialist can help you sharpen them. Now you've made sure your lawn mower will be in good condition for next spring. All equipment should be stored somewhere that isn't too cold. A dry and dust free room in the attic, garage or shed is perfect.
WINTER IS COMING – PROTECT YOUR ROSE STEMS
If you do everything right, your roses will bloom again next year. Start by lightly pruning the shoots. This will make it easier to pack them. This should only be a light trim. Don't cut the crown until the spring. Young rose stems are often so flexible that they can be gently pressed against the ground and fastened there with a hook. Pour plenty of soil over the foot, graft point and crown, which are then covered with twigs. The stem is also covered with small twigs. Older stems need to spend winter upright. They need to be packed well. Cover the crown with a thick layer of spruce branches, which are tied together with a jute band. The graft point, under the crown, is also wrapped with twigs or straw. Tie a jute sack or winter fleece loosely over the crown. Do not use a plastic bag under any circumstances! Plastic doesn't let oxygen in, so there is a risk that the temperature fluctuations during the winter will damage the plant. It can suffocate or freeze to death. NB: protect the stem from the winter sun by wrapping it in small branches and fabric.
THE FROST IS HERE - YOU NEED TO PROTECT YOUR DAHLIAS
Dahlias can't tolerate winter temperatures. That's why you should dig up and protect your bulbs before November. After the first frost you need to do something. If the green part of the plants is hanging down to the ground, cut the stems to about fifteen centimeters. Then carefully dig up the bulbs with a trowel and remove as much soil as possible. Check them for disease. Any suspicious marks should be removed with a sharp knife. Tip: treat the cuts with coal dust. It's a disinfectant. You can get coal dust from the bottom of a bag of charcoal. When you've treated the "cut" you can turn the bulbs upside down for a few days. Water will drain from the stalks and the bulbs will dry. Put them in a box filled with sand or damp leaves. This ensures your dahlias don't dry out too much. Put the box in a cool and airy room for the winter. Check the bulbs once a month to make sure they're ok.
CLEAR FALLEN LEAVES IN NOVEMBER
Leaves fall from the trees in November. You should take advantage of this and make "mulch" – cover the ground with autumn leaves. Put them in your flower beds or vegetable patch. This protects the plants from frost and cold, keeps the earth moist and keeps weeds in check. You can also store the leaves in a mesh basket. You need to keep the leaves moist so they decompose faster. You can help the leaves break up. You can do this quickly and easily with your lawnmower: Put the leaves in a straight line and run over them with a lawnmower. Put the leaves in a compost heap or mesh basket. Then you can put ”mulch” on your beds again by putting an organic layer over the earth.
TIME TO PLANT LILIES
November is the perfect month to plant lilies. The ground is the perfect temperature. Don't forget, if you've ordered lily bulbs and the ground is frozen when they come you need to store them temporarily. The best place to store them is in a box filled with damp sand somewhere dark and cool. You can plant the bulbs when the ground has thawed. The ultimate planting temperature is around five degrees. It can't be warmer than fifteen degrees. The hole should be twice as deep as it is wide. Remember to cover the planting area with leaves and twigs afterwards.
PLANT SHRUBS, TREES AND BUSHES BEFORE THE FIRST FROST
At this time of year, "bare-rooted" trees and shrubs are sold in garden centres. This means that they are sold without a pot or jute sack around their roots. These plants are usually cheaper than plants in pots. They are also better quality and there is a larger selection. If you buy "bare-rooted trees" or bushes, you need to plant them quickly. You can wait a bit longer to plant potted plants if you need to. What to do with your "bare-rooted plants". As soon as you get home with the plants, put them in a bucket of water. The roots can now "drink until they're satisfied" for at least half a day. Dig the planting hole in the meantime. If you're putting in a hedge, you naturally measure the right distance. Remember: a wide planting hole is better than a deep one. Make sure you keep your plants moist. The roots can't even be dry for one minute. They can die. Put the plant in the hole, pour in the soil, push it down and then water thoroughly. It might need a plant support. Put mulch on the plant and cover it carefully afterwards.