The clocks have gone back, and it’s time to dig out your winter hats and gloves before you get on with your bonsai jobs for November.
The shorter days, colder nights and potential for morning frosts make November feel completely different from last month and it seems to have turned really quickly this year. The leaves that turned to shades of red and gold in October are now starting to fall heavily on the ground. So it’s no surprise that they feature at the top of this month’s task list.
Without further ado, here are some suggested bonsai jobs for November.
Gather leaves for leafmould
Yes, the days are feeling a little chillier now, but one big bonus of the turn in the weather is the bountiful harvest of fallen leaves. Collect these up now and you’ll have the raw material to make a fantastic fertiliser for your garden – see our guide to making leafmould to get you started.
But do take care not to disturb any hibernating hedgehogs when you’re gathering up the leaves. If you think that you have an hedgehog sleeping in your garden, it’s best to avoid the area. If your hedgehog visitors are still active then you could leave them out some cat food and a saucer of water. Don’t leave out milk as it will make them very ill and possibly kill them.
Prune fruiting bonsai trees
Many species of fruiting trees such as crab apples benefit from both a summer pruning and a winter pruning. The winter pruning can be undertaken anytime during the dormant season, once all leaves have been dropped.
November is a good time to restyle your fruiting trees, thinning out any overcrowded branches and removing any damaged or crossed branches. Remember to cut branches back to a healthy bud and apply wound sealant where necessary.
Buy bare root trees
Autumn is a great time to buy bare root trees. These tend to be good value for money and will give you plenty of potential bonsai material for the coming years.
Bare root trees are available from specialist nurseries and can be potted up or planted directly in the ground to thicken up. Adding a mycorrhizal fungus to the roots before planting will help to establish the tree.
Clear down bonsai benches
It is important to keep your bonsai benches clean and clear, and this is the ideal time of year to tidy them up. It doesn’t just make your bonsai collection look better, it also helps to keep your trees in good health.
You’ll need to clear away both the leaves that fall from your deciduous bonsai trees and from any larger trees that surround your collection. It may feel like a never ending task but try to keep on top of it with regular tidy ups.
Keep guttering clear
And with the seemingly endless supply of falling leaves, it is important to keep guttering on sheds and greenhouses clear. This will prevent down pipes from blocking up so that rainwater can run freely into your water butts.
Use a broom to gather the leaves in and then remove them by hand and add to your leafmould pile. Alternatively you can use a hose pipe to flush leaves out of the down pipe. But if you do use this method be sure to remove the leaves from your water butt. If they’re left in, they will rot down and make your water smell awful.
Your trees will require a lot less water in the colder, wetter months. So it’s important to check your trees regularly to make sure that they are not becoming waterlogged and that water is able to run away from the pots.
If necessary, move your trees to a more sheltered spot so that they don’t become too wet. This is especially important for pines and junipers, which won’t like being waterlogged.
Start your Christmas shopping
Yes, it may still feel too early to be talking about Christmas shopping. But this year, we’re all likely to be doing more of our shopping online and it’s important to get organised in good time.
So whether you’re shopping for a fellow bonsai enthusiast or getting ideas for your own Christmas list, why not take a look through our Christmas Gift Guide for Bonsai Lovers? You’re sure to get some ideas and inspiration for your Christmas shopping.
Put out food for the birds
As the days get colder, make sure that your feathered visitors have access to food and water. Garden centres and websites will have a range of feeds available, so you should be able to find one that’s suitable for the types of birds who visit your garden.
Do remember that once you start putting out food, it’s important to keep on doing so as the birds will come to rely on you as a source of food. And when the night temperatures start to dip below freezing, keep a check on the water in your garden.
Well, best of luck searching for the hat and gloves. We will also be taking a flask of tea out when we’re working in the furthest corners of the nursery.
See you next month for another list of bonsai jobs!