COLUMN: Time to get into spring garden preparation

​Resident gardener Kate Giffen explains how you can prepare for spring in your garden – and what to do with those leftover pumpkins!
Broad beans may be starting to come through now.Broad beans may be starting to come through now.
Broad beans may be starting to come through now.

​And just like that it’s November, and thoughts turn from pumpkins to Christmas.

If you have any pumpkins left over, you can hollow it out, use the flesh in delicious soup and fill the hollowed out pumpkin with birdseed.

Suspend it from a tree with some twigs and string and you have a bird feeder! This is a great activity to do with the children. Plus don’t forget to keep the seed and grow your own next year!

You can plant your spring onion scraps to grow your own.You can plant your spring onion scraps to grow your own.
You can plant your spring onion scraps to grow your own.

Clean off the seeds, then spread them out on some kitchen paper and leave in a warm place for about a week. When fully dry, pop them in a labelled envelope.

If you got your broad beans in last month, they should be coming through now but there is still time to sow this month too.

If your soil is really heavy and prone to waterlogging or if you think they might get nibbled by mice it might be best to start them off in pots to give them a really good head start before you plant them out.

You can do the same with peas, get them going on a windowsill.

If you want to get a head start on some early summer flowers, then sweet peas can also be sown but make sure you label them and keep them separate from the edible peas!

There is also still time to plant your spring bulbs such as daffodils, grape hyacinth, aconites, snowdrops and tulips. These will be perfectly happy in containers if space is at a premium.

Another easy win is to plant your spring onion scraps. Buy a bunch of spring onions, use the green bit (pop them in your soup pot!) and plant the white bit. In no time at all, the green will start to grow back and like magic, you have spring onion greens for free!

November is also a brilliant time to plant fruit trees and bushes. Try blackberries and raspberries.

Also how about having a go at rhubarb? Although you can grow from seed, it is easier and more common to grow from established plants or ‘crowns’. Follow the instructions for the variety that you pick but keep in mind they do grow to be rather large plants so would need plenty of space.

Saying that though, there are varieties that are quite happy in a large container so it is well worth researching and asking advice at your garden centre.

If you have been clearing your beds then don’t forget to dig in a nice layer of well-rotted compost and you can cover them with old carpet or cardboard to keep off some of the rain and supress the weeds.

Alternatively, think about growing a green manure. There is still time this month to sow beans or Hungarian rye as a green fertilizer. Hungarian grazing rye is great for improving clay soils, overwinters well and inhibits weed growth. Green fertilizers are a cheap, environmentally friendly and easy way of overwintering your beds so well worth investigating!

See you in December!