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Gardening Tips for November Print E-mail
Alice Spenser-Higgs   
Wednesday, 05 November 2008

Gardening Tips for NovemberSummer has arrived, with glorious hot days seeing flower beds flourishing. Make the most of the long days and outdoor weather by getting a bit of earth under your nails and you’ll see the rewards.

Sow quick growing garden flowers like alyssum, dwarf marigolds, nasturtiums, portulaca, and California poppy (Escholzia californica).  Agapanthus is in bud or starting to bloom – water them well if the weather is hot and dry. Water Liliums at least once a week. Feed cannas and dahlias. Feed hydrangeas once a month and water more often if it gets very hot.

Perennials such as yarrow, hollyhocks, blue marguerite, Michaelmas daisy, Oriental poppy, penstemon, and scabious can be sown from seed.

Mulch your flower beds to keep the roots cool and moist. This also prevents evaporation so beds need less watering.

Shrubs and trees
If trees are causing dense shade thin out some of the side branches or twiggy side shoots to allow in more sun.

Pest alert
November is peak time for pests. Watch out for lily borer (black and yellow stripes) on your clivia and amaryllis.

You can’t miss the yellow and black beetles that can demolish flowers completely in a day.  They are either the CMR (blister) beetle or flower beetle (large broad beetles). Spray with by the organic Ludwig’s Insect Spray Plus at a rate of 100 ml per 10-litre water plus 10 ml of Spray Stay added. The best control is to hand collect and drown them in water.

Other pesky pests are American bollworm and semi-loopers, which target roses and tomatoes. Cabbages are infested by diamond-back moth larvae and citrus by orange-dog caterpillars. Remove by hand if you see them or spray with a biological caterpillar insecticide or organic insect spray.

Kitchen garden
Parsley may be going to seed. Sow a new batch in seed trays or directly into the ground. Parsley is a good companion plant for tomatoes and roses, as it keeps pests away.

Pinch out growing tips of herbs to keep them in shape.

Plant a batch of baby carrots now and you will have a delicious side dish by Christmas time.

Vegetables to sow - runner beans, beetroot, broccoli,  Brussels sprouts, chilli, cabbage, carrot,  celery, cucumber, eggfruit, leeks, lettuce, melon, onion, parsley, patty pans, pumpkin, mealies, rhubarb, spinach, radish, spinach, squash, sweetcorn, tomato and watermelon.

Succession sowing of most vegetables can be continued up until the end of this month.

To make best use of space, train spreading plants like pumpkins, cucumbers and marrows up trellises or walls. By training them upwards, where there is more air movement, the leaves are less likely to get fungus diseases because they don’t get wet from watering. Try the ‘Jack be little’ mini-pumpkin which has orange flesh and a flat round shape, the mini squash, sweet dumpling’ which has small, 10cm, acorn-shaped fruit that is sweet, tender and orange or ’sweet slice’ cucumber.

Harvest beans, cucumbers, squashes and marrows as soon as they are an edible size. Pick tomatoes when they begin to change from orange to red. This extends the harvest period.

Cut lawns once a week. If it is very hot, set the lawnmower to cut high so that the blades of grass shade the roots.

To prevent fungus diseases try not to water at the hottest time of the day.

Container plants
Water outdoor container plants and hanging baskets once a day and feed twice a month.

If the sun is becoming too harsh, move containers into a position where they receive afternoon shade.

Green tips
Just about all household waste can be used in the garden. Keep a bucket at the back door for all kitchen scraps and when it is full empty it on the compost heap.  

Punch holes into the bottom of cans and use them as containers for growing cuttings or seedlings.

Soak cigarette stubs in a bucket of water and use it as a spray for aphids.

Place shredded newspapers and magazines at the bottom of a newly dug bed as this helps retain water.

Fill old tyres with soil and grow potatoes in them.

Alice Spenser-Higgs is a freelance journalist and garden writer.
For more information on gardening and plants in South Africa, visit

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