November is officially cold enough to rest a little if you like, or you can get stuck in making the garden winter ready.
Clearing up dead plants, leaves, and shrubs makes for a pretty garden, however it is also nice to think about the creatures. Even in a city like Amsterdam you can help the insects, hedgehogs, and birds survive better by leaving some piles of sticks and leaves for shelter. Remember, if you decide to have a bonfire on bonfire night be really careful to look out for hedgehogs too.
I even spread out some hay around the plants as it shelters the existing plants, provides protection from frost on the roots, and it stops cats from digging up your bulbs to do their business. Eventually the hay will decompose and fertilize your soil. Ideally you want to use organic hay, which I get at the pet store as I need a very small amount for my tiny little garden.
Below are some plans for a hedgehog home (reference: growfruitandveg.co.uk) that you may wish to build this yourself. Hedgehogs also like cat/dog food, but please do not feed them any milk as it makes them sick. This is particularly important if the autumn is mild as they sometimes start to hibernate too late and do not have time to build up any reserves.
You can also start with winter pruning of fruit trees and fruit bushes. Winter pruning of deciduous trees and shrubs may start too so that they stay healthy and in shape. Try to avoid unnecessary pruning, which may cause wounds, making the shrub or tree will bleed.
When you are pruning fruit bushes it is important to know what kinds you have growing in your garden. I have both summer and autumn raspberries, which need to be handled in different ways.
Summer-fruiting raspberries produce fruit on one year old canes. In autumn cut all canes down to soil level that bore fruit during the summer.
For autumn raspberries you need to wait a little bit. In late winter (February) prune all the canes to ground level before growth commences. The plants will fruit on new growth. As I have them all mixed up in one raised bed, I use a little ribbon or cotton tie to mark those that are autumn ones.
If you make some pruning mistakes, don’t worry – most plants will survive. You may get a lesser crop for a year but it’s not the end of the world.
In March we were forced to move all of our raspberries and prune the plum tree back dramatically due to an extension that the neighbors had built. The builders had trampled many of the canes already and the timing was terrible but despite the less than ideal conditions everything survived and the crop was plentiful enough to make a nice big batch of jam.