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Alan's Weekly Garden Tips - Week Forty Seven

Published on November 21st 2019

by AlanGardenMaster. All rights reserved

Cyclamen and snowdrop flowers
This week I'll be looking at soil health, fruit and rose diseases, a bit of hardy plant planting and lots of other tasks to get your teeth into. Whatever you get up to on your patch this week, make sure it's enjoyable!

Trees, shrubs and hardy plants

  • It’s still a great time to plant hardy plants unless your soil is too wet or frozen solid!
  • Reduce the height of tall roses, tree mallows Lavatera and Buddleja, but leave the main prune until late spring. Early pruning reduces 'wind rock' during winter storms, which can break underground roots.
A close up of a flower

How to Protect Your Plants Against the Wind

Tree Mallow 'Rosea'

Malva × clementii 'Rosea'

Tree Mallow 'Barnsley'

Malva × clementii 'Barnsley'

A close up of some purple Buddleja flowers in a garden


Buddleja spp.

  • Deciduous trees - those that have lost their leaves - can be pruned now if you think they need it.
  • Fork over flower borders and work a slow-release feed into the soil. Vitax Q4 or Fish, Blood and Bone Meal are suitable for this. Top off with a mulch of mushroom compost or chipped bark.
Vitax Q4 fertiliser boxes
Vitax Q4 fertiliser
  • Don’t be in too much of a hurry to remove dead flowers and stems from perennials. Many look fantastic with hoar frost on them, especially grasses.
Hoar frost on plant seed heads
Hoar frost on Rudbeckia seed heads
  • Gather up the fallen leaves from roses to compost. Then cover the ground between bushes with a mulch to reduce the likelihood of disease spores infecting new shoots in spring.
  • Winter flowering Cyclamen coum are around to buy this month so plant them in your garden to let them spread and colonise! Plant in the shade of trees or in a rockery and watch them turn into healthy winter-flowering colonies. Some also have some very attractive foliage.
Grey cyclamen leaves
_Cyclamen coum_ 'Pewter Leaf'
  • Check that any tender plants are adequately protected from the freezing temperatures that are on the way.
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Fruit Growing Tips

  • Apply winter wash to fruit trees and bushes. This acts to control any insect pests that are overwintering in cracks and crevices. Cover any actively growing plants below the trees as the winter wash may harm them. Wait until all the leaves are off the trees and bushes before spraying.
A bottle of Winter Wash
Vitax Winter Wash should be applied after leaf fall
  • Check your apple and plum trees and remove any fruit that has brown rot. Burn or bin it. This infected fruit often hangs on the trees as mummified clusters lurking ready to infect next year's crop!
  • Pinch immature figs off outdoor plants. These will get frosted in winter if left so are best taken off now. Anything smaller than a pea can be left to grow and should survive the winter to ripen next summer. For figs in pots, protect the tender roots from frost by wrapping the pot.
Removing small fig fruit
Removing small fig fruits

Veg Growing Tips

  • If it's not too wet, try to get the autumn digging done. Leave the ground rough to let the frost and rain break it up over winter.
  • If your soil is a heavy clay soil (like mine!) add Vitax Clay Breaker. This will flocculate the clay particles together so that the soil becomes crumbly and easier to cultivate in future.
  • Dig in plenty of organic matter in the form of garden compost, spent mushroom compost or farmyard manure. But do avoid putting this on areas where you plan to grow root crops since it causes distorted roots.
Mushroom growing on compost covered shelves
Spent mushroom compost is excellent for soil improvement
  • Check the soil pH on your veg patch. Add lime to raise the pH level to close to neutral (pH 6.5) if required. If you are rotating your crops, then the lime should be going on the area where you plan to grow members of the Brassica family (sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, swede, etc.). A pH higher than neutral helps to prevent club root disease.
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  • Make sure that crops are well protected from pigeon damage. Brassica crops are especially at risk during cold spells. Netting the plants is the best solution.
  • Veg crops that might be damaged by cold in winter could benefit from covering with horticultural fleece. Every now and then, lift and check what’s going on underneath, as slugs can still be active and weeds relishing that extra protection could takeover if not pulled out!
Kale covered in bird net
Kale covered in bird netting

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