November in the Garden
The garden in November is usually filled with a rich colour palette of late spring blooms. The bold and beautiful Hydrangeas are part of this glorious mix and never fail to wow us, year after year. Their local name is Krismisroos and they remind many people of the coming holiday season. Conveniently, Friday 27 November is Black Friday - a day where many shoppers look forward to buying bargains as Christmas gifts. Look out for specials at your local GCA Garden Centre and enjoy getting ready for the festive season. Life is a Garden, so go ahead and decorate yours!
Edible - Planting beetroot
Here are some planting tips for your beetroot seedlings:
- Since beetroot mature underground, they do not like to compete with a heavy clay soil. If you have clay soil, dig compost into the top 15cm layer.
- For almost continuous harvesting, plant every 14 days.
Tip: Fertilise lightly with a 2:3:2 or equivalent organic fertilizer i.e. that is not high in nitrogen as too much nitrogen will encourage mostly leafy growth. Water sparingly since overwatering encourages leafy growth and bolting (flowering and not producing a vegetable). Beetroot also grows well in combination with blood sorrel Rubus sanguineus.
What to Sow in November
- Bright, flirty and fun - marigolds are one of the easiest seeds to sow. Find a sunny place to scatter the seeds. Cover them with a fine layer of soil and water gently for the first week to two, making sure that the soil does not dry out. If you have planted the seeds too closely, thin the seedling out when they are about 4 to 6cm high. Marigolds are great companion plants in veggie gardens.
- Chrysanthemums are fresh and cheerful. Chrysanthemum paludosum, or creeping daisy, has beautiful white petaled flowers with a bright yellow centre which are loved by butterflies and bees. The yellow daisy Chrysanthemum multicaule produces masses of tiny yellow blooms while other single mixed coloured Chrysanthemum seeds are also available. Chrysanthemums can be sown directly into the beds with pauldosum and multicaule, preferring to be about 2mm under the soil and the single mixed colours 4mm down. All of them can also be planted in trays.
- Edging lobelia Lobelia erinus come in a selection of colours with Chrystal Palace being a popular dark blue variety. Scatter them on the surface of the tray or the soil when sown directly and then gently press down. They are excellent to hang over the edges of containers and hanging baskets.
- Cucumber: Remember to provide space for them to grow unless you are going to tie them up supports.
- Pumpkin will require a large space to spread out in a sunny location.
- Corn or mielies. Dig the soil a fork’s depth and preferably work compost into the soil before sowing seeds, spacing them about 30cm apart.
Neat to know: A century-old companion planting method used by the Iroquois, an American tribe, was called the Three Sister’s planting. The Three Sisters planting technique utilises corn, climbing beans, and squash or pumpkin. Each plant serves a purpose in this design. The corn or mielies provide the climbing (pole) for the beans and the beans add nitrogen to the soil. The squash or pumpkin protects all the sisters by using its large leaves to shade the soil, to reduce weeds and keep the soil moist. Try it for yourself!
Now is a great time to plant:
- Inca lilies Alstroemeria are a gem in the garden because they are a lot tougher than they look with their floppy stems and soft leaves. They are also excellent cut-flowers. Like many other lilies, they prefer to have a cool root run -have their roots shaded and their heads in the sun. Inca lilies are wonderful when planted in pots on the patio or balcony.
- African lilies, known also as Agapanthus, are drought-tolerant indigenous perennials found in many of our gardens. Although fairly common, some of the new hybrids are nothing short of spectacular and you just have to see them for yourself! You will be amazed by the huge blooms on ‘Queen Mum’, enchanted by the deep purple ‘Buccaneer’ and possibly fall in love with the two tone ‘Twister’.
- Lavender is an all-time favorite. There are more recent releases like the rather informal but excellent performer, Margaret Roberts, and then the new-age stunners that get covered in flowers. Pop down to your local GCA Garden Centre and choose for yourself.
Mole crickets are very destructive pests that tunnel below the surface of the lawn and cause widespread root damage.
An important part of pest control is to correctly identify the pest. Mole cricket can be heard chirping at night when they are most active. The adults are golden brown and about 2,5 to 3,5 cm long with large mole-like front claws combined with oversized, lobster-like heads and bodies similar to common brown/black crickets. The nymphs, or babies are about 1cm long and are miniature look-alikes of the adults.
Tip: An easy soap water drench helps confirm mole cricket activity. Mix 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid with 5 litres of water and soak the damaged area with a watering can. Mole cricket adults and nymphs will come to the surface as the soapy water penetrates their tunnels.
Signs and damage: Although the damage starts in spring it is often only noticed in summer when dead and dying patches appear on the lawn as the grass turns brown.
Control: The hard work is over. Now that you have identified the pest you can visit your local GCA Garden Centre for more advice and organic control solutions.
NB: Once you have the treatment, always read the product labels and follow the instructions carefully, including guidelines for pre-harvest intervals in edible gardens.
Crotons have striking leaf colours, which makes them very popular as landscaping and hedging plants in frost-free coastal regions. Indoors, their bright colours are sought after and add a distinctly vibrant, young tropical flavour. They require bright light and do well on a sunny window sill.
Tip: Allow the soil to dry out between watering as they do not like to be over-watered and enquire at your local GCA Garden Centre for an appropriate plant food.
Celosia, or cockscomb, is one of the most vibrantly coloured summer annuals. If you like to be bold and playful in the garden, cockscomb is made for you. There are two types of celosia, one with an arrow-like feathery plume for a flower and the other resembling the almost heart-shaped hump of a cock’s comb. Both are lots of fun and create a lovely tropical green backdrop around a pool or entertainment area where they can enhance a vibey party atmosphere.
Tip: Celosia is generally a non-fuss plant that is easy to grow.
In most regions, roses are or should be sprouting for their second flush in November. In cooler regions of the country and in the Western Cape, they are at the height of their beauty. Regular dead-heading not only provides a neat look in the garden, but it encourages quality new sprouting. A monthly application of fertiliser brings even more blooms. .
Edging rose beds with dwarf marigolds is another option of keeping pests away from the roses as their roots have an anti-nematode action.
Watering should never be neglected at this time of rapid growth.
Lawn: If you want a green lawn for the holiday season, now’s the time to fertilise. This should be done every six to eight weeks in the growing season.
Garden: Remember to water in the early morning or late afternoon – we need to be sustainable water-wise gardeners. Start mulching the beds to keep the water at root level cool.
East Coast Gardening
As the humidity increases, look out for an increase in fungal diseases such as the different mildews on susceptible plants. Spray accordingly or visit your local GCA Garden Centre for organic advice.