“November is the most disagreeable month in the whole year,” said Margaret, standing at the window one dull afternoon, looking out at the frostbitten garden.
“That’s the reason I was born in it,” observed Jo pensively…
~Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, 1868
The clocks have gone back, it’s dark in the evenings, it’s cold and it’s wet. Welcome to November! Now let’s look at some positives, November brings frosty mornings with clear blue-sky days, colourful scarves, open fires, attractive seed heads and grasses, plus soup. Wonderful soup. Any soup is, to my mind, worth the cold but it reaches an even higher level when made from homegrown veg. In November we will be harvesting leeks, cabbages, artichokes, kale, swede and other veg that is perfect for soup. Just go steady on those artichokes!
Now is the time for planting bare-root trees and below you will find some helpful guidance from our inhouse expert, Christine. Just remember to water, water and then water again.
Christmas is looming ever closer and if you want to avoid the last-minute panic then it’s time to organise some presents. No need to leave the house, just reach for the Suttons Gift Catalogue 2019 and you’ll be spoilt for choice. The catalogue is available from the 7th so if you don’t receive one then order a free copy here.
Our top ten recommended tasks this month include:
- November is the best time to be planting tulips. This later planting helps prevent a disease called Tulip Fire. Mix and match the colours or combine colours that will deliberately clash to give real impact to your display.
- It’s not too late to plant daffodils and other spring-flowering bulbs. Check out our website for offers and visit our blog for tips on naturalising your bulbs. Late planting just means later flowering.
- Houseplants will do best kept in good light, away from radiators and fires. Stop feeding them and only water sparingly.
- If you haven’t already done so, then sow some sweet peas in early November and your reward will be strong plants bearing early blooms.
- Dahlias can be lifted and stored but only when the stems have first been blackened by frost.
- Rake leaves from the lawn and put them somewhere to rot down for 12 to 18 months. The result will be valuable leaf mould, a great soil improver and superb potting compost.
- Cut peonies down to ground level, compost the stems and place a marker so that you don’t forget they are there and dig them up!
- Bonfire season starts now but please always remember to do a hedgehog check before lighting.
- Plant garlic and then cover with fleece to stop the birds pulling up the cloves.
- For fresh winter salads sow Leaf Salad Winter Mix and grow on a sunny windowsill.
SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity
On 11th November 2019, we commemorate Armistice Day, with Remembrance Sunday falling this year on the 10th November. On both days we will remember and honour the men and women who have fought and fallen in war.
SSAFA is a charity that Suttons is pleased and proud to support, they provide lifelong support to our Armed Forces, veterans and their families. SSAFA’s mission is as follows:
“We exist to relieve need, suffering and distress amongst the Armed Forces, veterans and their families in order to support their independence and dignity.”
Up to the 11th of November, Suttons is donating to SSAFA all proceeds from packs of Field Poppy seeds. Thereafter 20p per pack sold will be donated. So, if you wish to support SSAFA please buy your poppy seed now.
Bird feeders not only help our garden birds to survive the colder months when food is scarce but also can provide hours of entertainment. The wider the variety of food you put out then the wider variety of bird species you will attract. To prevent disease the feeders will need to be cleaned regularly and a supply of fresh water is just as important as the food.
Queen bumblebees will be out and about in early spring and will welcome a feed from a pot of nectar-rich crocus. Now is the time to plant up such a pot, put it in a sunny spot and keep it watered.
Frogs, toads, small mammals and invertebrates will all be seeking protection from the cold weather and predators. Some lucky creature will quickly take up residence in a small pot, filled with dry leaves and left on its side in a sheltered spot. And a pile of logs or shrubby prunings and clippings will become home to many. Why not treat your frogs and toads to a Froglio?
Christine’s Patch – Fruit Trees
Hi, I’m Christine Loader, Horticultural and Technical Advisor here at Suttons. I have been an avid gardener all my life and have a passion for growing Fruit and Vegetables. When I am not in my greenhouse I can usually be found on my allotment. Gardening has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I look forward to sharing my expertise with you in our newsletter. This month we’re looking at getting the best from bare root fruit trees.
The bare root fruit season is about to start and between now and spring is the best time to plant fruit trees and bushes. Consider growing more than one tree, although many trees are self-fertile, cross-pollination will always give a better and larger crop.
Bare roots will arrive ‘bottle brushed’, meaning that all excess soil and roots have been cleaned off in order to avoid fungal infections. The roots may appear dry on the outside but hold plenty of moisture inside. Soak the roots for a few hours prior to planting.
If you cannot plant the tree straight away, keep it in an unheated but frost-free garage or shed and keep the roots moist by spraying daily or wrapping damp newspaper around them. If planting is not possible due to prolonged periods of heavy frost or snow, plant it into a large pot using a quality compost. Keep the compost moist and the tree in a frost-free place.
Choose a sunny and sheltered position and prepare the ground at least two weeks in advance. Double Digging is recommended to aerate the topsoil and break up the subsoil. Add plenty of organic matter such as compost and well-rotted manure. Adding Blood Fish and Bone and Mycorrhizal will be beneficial for the establishment of the tree. Put in a strong stake to support the tree, place it on the side of the prevailing wind.
The hole should be wide enough to spread the roots evenly. The old soil mark on the stem should be used as a marker for the correct planting depth. Backfill with the soil mixture firming down well but don’t tread heavily. Water in thoroughly.
If the tree has a lot of growth, consider pruning out any thin and spindly branches or at least reducing the length by two thirds.
Proper aftercare is just as important as good planting. Water the tree thoroughly, roots grow as long as the soil temperatures are above 7°C and require plenty of moisture. Feed the tree in the spring with an application of a general fertiliser and during the summer month feed with a high potash fertiliser. Mulching with well-rotted manure/compost around the roots will preserve moisture and nourish the tree, ensure the mulch does not touch the trunk.
Remove the blossom in the first spring after planting. Check the ties at least once a year making sure the trunk is not being strangled. Keep the area weed and grass free.
James Wong’s Botanical Infusions
New to our 2020 range and available to buy now, are 6 natural remedies for you to sow and grow, all selected by James Wong. Great for stocking fillers methinks.
James tells us, “It’s amazing what benefits can be achieved from harnessing the natural power of plants. With a couple of seed packs and a bit of guidance from our online recipes, you will soon be tinkering away like a botanical Willy Wonka, developing your own homespun remedies for yourself or friends. Good luck and have fun!”
Chamomile – “A traditional skin soother and sleep aid. Perfect for bath soaks and calming teas.”
Hollyhock – “Contains natural plant gels, traditionally used to relieve sore throats and dry coughs.”
Lemon Balm – “Can be made into a calming tea or is traditionally use topically for insect bites.”
Mint – “Used to settle upset tummies and as a relaxing tea before bedtime.”
Meadowsweet – “Contains natural pain-relieving compounds traditionally used to treat headaches.”
St John’s Wort – “Traditionally made into a wound healing balm to treat cuts and scrapes.”
View the whole James Wong Botanical Infusions range on our website.
Offer of the Month
Winter/Spring Bedding Plants – Lucky Dip
18 x 9cm potted plants for £20
It’s hard for us to grow exactly the right number of plants that we need each season and we sometimes grow too many. You can take advantage of this by buying a ‘Lucky Dip’ at a fraction of the normal cost!
Your 18 x 9cm plants will be select by us from our outstanding range, so that you can create spectacular displays in hanging baskets and patio containers! Find out more here.
Note: image is for illustration purposes only.