It’s November, and it’s turned autumnal in the garden.

by Ken C | Last Updated: 01/11/2021

It’s difficult to believe this year has flown past with what can only be described as less than normal. However, it has encouraged more people to take up gardening – which has always been the passion of my life.

The calendar says that Autumn has arrived although I think it’s a bit late as most of the plants thought it was Autumn two months ago when it went cold and leaves started to turn. Then, all of a sudden, summer again. But with the changing of the clocks, the calendar has caught up and Autumn is now definitely here. I promise.

Got a pot? Get an Acer!

What lovely colours the Acers are turning.

If you have a garden that’s not too exposed to wind and cold, get one and plant it in a pot using a good compost like John Innes.

There are so many other plants changing colour and giving us a delight in the garden – Cercis, Amelanchier, Euonymus elatus, and Euonymus elata to name but a few.

Vegetables to plant in November

First stop this month is the vegetable garden.

What’s the most important kitchen ingredient to get planted this month? Those of you who enjoy being in the kitchen will have got it already. Yes, Garlic! I don’t know if it was the year or just me but my last crop wasn’t as good as usual but they should last me well into February.

This year I thought I would grow Solent Wight as it’s said to be improved and grows into a large bulb with excellent flavour. Just for fun, I’m growing two varieties and the other will be Provence Wight as these are supposed to produce bulbs nearly as big as Elephant garlic! Should be fun.

Both these varieties are available from Kings Seeds of Kelvedon

How to plant garlic

First, break the garlic bulb into cloves – usually about ten to twelve per bulb. Then plant them in a block of several rows about 8-inches / 20-centimetres apart – keeping the neck above the ground.

The cloves prefer well-drained soil, so if you have horrible heavy clay you might have more success growing garlic in large pots. Don’t forget, pots will also work if you don’t have access to a garden.

Whilst in the vegetable garden, I will be planting some Broad Beans (Aquadulce) and early peas (Meteor) which are a suitably hardy variety. If you have access to cloches, plant them in there. If not, lay some horticultural fleece over them to give them a jump start as this will result in an early crop.

An update on my spinach that I sowed last month. It’s coming on well, as are the carrots. I have even achieved some late radish to spice up my salads as I’ve just finished eating my Tomatoes.

Got no space for veg? Give containers a try.

I don’t normally go on about veg, but homegrown veg really does taste better than the shop-bought stuff. So even if you have little or no space for veg, get yourself some containers and create yourself a patio veg plot. You’ll thank me for it!

And if you haven’t cleared that summer bedding, you’d better get on with it!

One garden I frequent quite often has been designed with planting in blues, purples, and white using Salvia, Vebena, Hydrangeas, and blue and white Agapanthus of which the latter is still showing bud and flower.

To add some earlier colour to the garden next week, we will be adding purple and white Darwin Tulips that we will deep plant to about 8-inches / 20-centimetres with between five to seven bulbs per hole. As I’ve said before, deep planting this way means you can plant over the top AND, because the bulb stays cooler, it will flower for many years.

Colour for spring

It’s not too late to plant daffodils, crocus, tulips, Hyacinths, and cyclamen and I’ve visited several Garden Centres recently, and I notice that some have bulbs discounted as they busily make way for Christmas gifts! So snap up any bargains and plant them up in any containers you have in the garden.

Remove the old compost first, and check for vine weevil grubs which are about half-inch long with brown noses and get rid of them to your local authority – do not be tempted to put them in your compost heap! Now, start with some stones for drainage then compost, then a cluster of tulips, a bit of white narcissus in the next layer, followed by dwarf daffs, dwarf tulips, Muscari, dwarf tulip, and top off with some cheerful violas.

All done? Not quite, get any pot that is not already off the ground lifted onto pot feet or even some bits of wood as this will help prevent waterlogging and frost damage.

Planting roses

I’ve been planting David Austin roses in one of our gardens, and it’s an ideal time for bare root stock as they are cheaper than container-grown specimens.

I plant fairly close about two feet apart to get a good show and always in threes or fives of the same variety.

Always watch that the budding eye, which is where the roots join the stem at the base of the Rose, is above the ground if not it will send up lots of suckers which you definitely don’t want.

Use Rootgrow which contains helpful bacteria and if mixed with the soil and planting compost when planting will definitely help the roots to take off.

In fact, this month is generally great for planting most shrubs and trees as the soil is quite warm and will get the roots started before winter sets in. See that all plants are really firmed in with your heal to prevent them blowing away!

Most roses are still showing buds and flowers so make the most of them and enjoy the show. Some years, I’ve been lucky enough to cut some at Christmas time to have on the table. But if your roses have finished flowering, cut about a third off to prevent wind-rock which can rot the base of the plant.

Autumn is a good time for planting fruit bushes

Staying on planting. It’s also a good time to plant fruit bushes and everyone will have their favourites.

My Dad had a thing about black currant bushes, so we had about eight of those plus red currant and white currants. And for that reason, I never eat black currants – except maybe in summer puddings.

Even so, currants have great nutritional value and are well worth growing.

Ben Connan and Ben Hope are good varieties to look out for as well. As is a sweet Gooseberry like Xenia with fruits that you can eat from the bush or make into a Gooseberry Fool – which my old Mum used to make.

There are so many different types of soft fruit that grow well in the average garden given basic care and attention. Wine Berry, Adonis, Raspberry, Cranberry Blueberry, and even Goji Berry – I could go on.

One of the best suppliers I’ve found for this fruit is Pomona Fruits, and they have a great website. Check them out!

Plant and caring for soft fruit bushes

As always, plant with good compost and add some Rootgrow for good results. And, never be afraid of planting in containers if you have no space or if you don’t have a garden.

If you already have soft fruit bushes and have access to well-rotted compost or manure, put some around the base of the bushes as a mulch, and watch the quality of fruit improve next year.

How to overwinter Fuschia

I’ve gone on this month a lot about edibles so let’s finish with Fuchsia.

I was at a talk the other evening in Aldham and I was asked, “How do I look after non-hardy Fuchsia in winter as I have no greenhouse“.

My answer? Firstly dig them out carefully, and pot them up with good compost and without watering too much. Now, where do you keep them? If you had a spare bedroom put a table near the window and stand the pots on drip trays, or in a shed or garage – so long as there is a window so the Fushsia can get some light. Hardly water at all, and they will drop their leaves. Don’t panic though, just moisten them slightly and you will be amazed that most fuchsias will come through the winter with this simple treatment.

And if they don’t, try not to remember who gave you the advice…

Last but not least. The seed catalogues will be arriving in the post soon. Take a bit of time out and think about what you might grow next year, and maybe try something different. Then, get ordering!

Happy gardening!

Ken Crowther is an award winning broadcaster, author and member of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture. He has been gardening for over 50 years and his knowledge and experience are drawn on to provide advice and information about garden design, plants for all seasons, gardening techniques and gardening tips. Gardening with Ken's broad appeal means he reaches a wide audience across the UK from amateur gardeners to top level horticulturists.