November 5: Look after indoor plants; check bonfires for hedgehogs; round up pots in time for frosts

This is the time to turn your attentions to indoor plants, and the tender plants that have come in for winter. Remove old and dead leaves to cut down on the places where diseases can build up. My Christmas cactus is starting to show well-formed buds and will be in flower by mid December. Schlumbergera x buckleyi, as they are less commonly called, will flower freely if given the correct conditions. After flowering they need to be fed and watered regularly for six months, then you let them dry out for six months giving little or no water and no food. This helps the buds to set, as this is a succulent it is able to cope without water.

•Lightly prune back any trees and large shrubs that have been recently planted or moved in order to reduce the wobbling effect of the wind on the roots.

•Time for a clear out, choose a mild day and remove all the plants, before washing down the inside of the glass and staging. I like to mix Jeyes fluid with the water to help disinfect the glasshouse. Also worth considering is the use of a smoke cone, an insecticidal smoke that gets to the parts other insecticides cannot reach. Follow the instructions carefully.

•Bonfire night – if you have a fire be sure to check carefully that there are no hedgehogs or other creatures thinking it is a safe place to hide. After the bonfires comes the wood ash. Don't let this go to waste, as long as it is free from any toxic waste. Spread round fruit trees such as applesm you can even mix it into flower beds, or add in thin layers to the compost heap. Save larger lumps of charcoal for barbecues next summer; that's something to look forward to.

•November is the time when the real frosts start, so it's a good idea to round up all your pots and put them in one spot to over winter. Grouping them close together also helps make it easier to cover to protect from snow and frosts. Clean the weeds and top few centimetres of compost off and replace with fresh new compost. To avoid waterlogging, try to prop your pots up on pot feet or bricks. You can mulch plants in pots with bark or horticultural grit, a good thick layer around the base of the plant will help prevent weed growth and insulate from the cold. You can use such a mulch on potted bulbs also they will push through it. Keep some horticultural fleece, bubble wrap or even old carpet handy to wrap pots when it gets frosty.


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•Time to think of next season and getting things on early. November is the time to sow broad beans. It overwinters well for a good early-summer crop. Aquadulce Claudia or Reina Blanca are the best varieties. Sow into drills 5cm deep and about 20cm apart with every bean 10cm or so apart.

•Time to prune, and mulch. Blackcurrants can give a surprisingly good return on a small amount of work. Remove approximately one third of the branches selecting damaged and diseased wood, then remove any crossing branches from the base, and then try to open up the centre of the bush to give good air circulation and even growing conditions. Gooseberries and redcurrants can be pruned in the same way now.

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