November: a clean sweep

I have a strange, antisocial urge at this time of year, to wander around the streets shouting: “Get out - quickly! The days are getting shorter and you are missing out!

I would probably be told to go forth and tree hug somewhere else, so I will stick to blogs and bullet points for the time being.

The most pressing job this month is to deal with leaves on the lawn or anywhere else where they may be a nuisance. You don’t have to get rid of them if they are covering tender plants such as Agapanthus and Kniphofia: they are doing a useful job there of creating a thermal layer. Leaves are generally not a problem on borders either as they rot down to bring organic matter to the soil.

If leaves build up on lawns however, they can affect the lawn by smothering the grass or by creating mould patches. In a compost heap they will do that too, but that is what they are supposed to do there! As long as you add some soil or special alkaline compost accelerator and, even better, some worms - you will end up with a dark organic matter with plenty of humus in it. This is good for every growing thing in the garden.

Pallets knocked together and an old rug or carpet on top is the cheapest most effective way I know of making a compost heap. Food waste is best kept above ground level in order to avoid unwanted, furry visitors.

Other than the main job of clearing and sweeping, there are plenty of other things to do this month:

· Cut off the leaves of Hellebores to make way for the winter flowers

· Tulips are best planted this month

· Perennials can still be lifted and divided

· November is the best month for planting roses

· Prune climbing roses

· Bare root trees and shrubs can now be planted. Keep the roots covered, preferably soaking them before planting.

· Make a note of the areas of lawn that become waterlogged. These are best treated in spring.

· Raise patio pots and containers onto “feet” to avoid waterlogging and put a protective layer around fragile pots.

· Wildlife will be searching for food: keep your bird feeders topped up and keep access points clear for hedgehogs.

If you have time, take a close look at some of the patterns that the frost can make, especially on cobwebs and grasses. As I said: “Get out - quickly! The days are getting shorter and you are missing out!”