Gardening in November 2018

Gardening in November

If ever there could have been another month in our calendar it would have fitted perfectly between October and November. Now is when you realise that the year has truly ran away from you. With only 8 weekends until Christmas time is indeed running out for the weekend garden warrior. There is so much to do, but we all know that gardening should be a relaxing hobby, not a list of stress producing chores. Let us see if we can make life easier for you.

Energy and time should now be spent on high impact living spaces. Your entrance, courtyards, patio and pool deck are where you will be spending most of your time this summer. Make that work. Use colour creatively – a splash of paint or a bright accent plant or furniture piece can really lighten up a drab space. Redo your pots – instant impact can be made by using colourful annuals and some favourite perennials.

Take a new look at succulents – these can not only be used as architectural impact plants, but there are also delicate varieties of kalanchoe and crassula available that can be used to great effect in the informal or cottage garden. When planting up pots invest in some of the many moisture retaining gels available – these really preserve water in the soil and prevents nutrients from leaching out.

We’ve had some decent rains this winter which has seen dam levels recover to the best level in three years. The drought is still not broken, and we will have to wait and see what this summer holds. I have been caught unawares with the sudden onset of summer – the howling South-Easter has quickly dried out the land and gardens that were oozing water a few weeks ago now screams for some irrigation. A recent visit to a plant fair shows the impact the drought has had on the industry. I have seen plenty of interesting succulents on display, there are some new varieties of old favourites and bulbs and tough perennials are always in demand. What has struck me this year was the huge variety of flowering indoor plants available. Orchids are big business and the quality and variety available was stunning. It is obvious that the drought has brought people’s gardens indoors. I am also excited on what I saw on the garden décor front. People are using hardscaping to great effect and plants are becoming part of the feature; it is no longer the main feature. For a plantsman it is difficult to adopt to the new climatic conditions and I think we will see more niche hobbies develop in the gardening field. People’s gardens are becoming smaller and their gardening efforts are becoming more focused.

The one area where we will still be pouring out our efforts is in the vegetable garden. This is the most exciting time of the year – not only can we start to indulge in the fruits of our labour, but we can still plant and sow almost every veggie on the summer list – beans, corn, tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, squashes, okra and most leaf crops. Plant what your family enjoys and make plans to deal with the inevitable glut that will come from planting too much of some varieties. Gardeners fortunately love sharing – and finding new ways of preserving the produce from our garden is a very rewarding past time. Opening a bottle of last season’s pickles and preserves for a snack platter or side dish is a moment of pride for the gardener-chef.

Soon we will see the first of the summer fruit coming in. You cannot have too much apricot jam – I am looking forward to the bumper crop of tiny fruit we currently have on the tree maturing and ripening to the perfect level. Bottling apricot jam is like bottling the sun. I will also this year try to preserve some green figs – luckily, they seem a bit late so I might just have the time for this time consuming, but very rewarding process.

Happy gardening, it is almost Christmas!