EARLY IN NOVEMBER
- Try to finish off bulb planting soon. In fact this is a great time to be planting tulips but if your soil is heavy put some coarse grit into the planting holes.
- Plant trees, shrubs, fruiting plants and roses of all kinds. They will be able to settle themselves in before the spring.
- Christmas roses (Helleborus niger) flower better and earlier with a little protection from a cloche.
- Hellebores hate being disturbed but if you must move one this is the best time. Lift it with a good large ball of soil around the roots.
- Check tree stakes and ties before winter winds cause damage.
- Plant Paperwhite narcissi for Christmas flowers.
- Clean the glass and insulate your greenhouse using bubble polythene.
- Pinch out the tips of autumn sown sweet peas when they are 10cm (4in) tall.
- Plant garlic by the end of this month, it enjoys a well-drained position. If in doubt plant cloves 10cm (4in) deep in mounded rows 15cm (6in) high.
- If your garden is lacking colour plant some winter flowering shrubs now.
- Sow fast maturing carrots, radishes, winter hardy salad onions etc in the greenhouse for April harvest.
- Plant a container with winter flowering heathers to brighten up your patio.
- Slugs find greenhouse conditions ideal, so they will still be very active in there. Take some steps towards controlling them.
- Feed flowering houseplants weekly but foliage ones once a month.
- Pot up pieces of chives, parsley and mint to bring indoors for fresh foliage all winter.
- Begin pruning grapes as soon as the leaves have fallen.
- Garden birds benefit from extra feeding all year round, but it is especially important in the winter months. Try to put out appropriate food for the species living in your garden and make sure that water is readily available too.
- Prune free standing apple and pear trees after leaf fall.
- Place houseplants on wide saucers of moist gravel to provide extra humidity. Grouping them together on trays of moist gravel helps even more, as central heating is very dry.
- Begin washing pots and trays in disinfectant ready for the new sowing season.
EARLY IN THE MONTH
- Overgrown deciduous hedges can be cut back hard while they are still dormant.
- Avoid getting greenhouse plants too wet, they are much better kept on the dry side over the winter.
- Feed flowering houseplants weekly using a liquid fertiliser.
- Avoid walking on frozen lawns, as this damages the grass leaving brown footprints until the spring.
- Put your sawn off Christmas tree in a stand which holds water, as this aids needle retention.
- Feed garden birds – see our complete range of feeds suitable for all species likely to visit your garden – and make sure that water is also readily available.
- Frost and wind can loosen newly planted shrubs and trees. Check and re-firm them.
- Geranium seeds can be sown now- if you have suitable conditions to grow them on.
- Plant new trees and shrubs while weather conditions are favourable.
- Try to hoe off weeds whenever you see them, as this will pay dividends later.
- Grow some sprouting seeds in jam jars for an easy, nutritious addition to meals.
- Cut some berried holly and keep it in a bucket in a cold greenhouse to prevent birds from taking the berries.
- Take root cuttings from herbaceous plants like phlox, oriental poppies, and Japanese anemones.
- Ventilate the greenhouse on sunny days to reduce the risk of fungal infections.
LATER IN DECEMBER
- Winter is a good time to plan next year’s crops and ornamental displays.
- Prune free- standing apple and pear trees.
- Prune greenhouse grapes, when all the leaves have fallen, cutting back the side shoots to one bud long
- Christmas pot plants – remember Cyclamen and Azaleas like it cool, Poinsettias need more warmth.
- Winter wash dormant fruit trees, using Vitax Winter Tree Wash, for a clean start next spring.
- Start winter digging on the veg. garden but keep off very wet soil – it ruins the structure.
- If snow is expected encircle vulnerable conifers with hoops of wire to hold branches in place that could, otherwise, be bent outwards by heavy falls.