Woodsmoke, walks and gathering-in are the essence of November – a month that flies by like the geese congregating here for winter. The harvest season might be over, but the hedgerows still hold a trove of ripe, bloom-covered sloes that when picked, pricked with a pin and steeped in gin make a lusciously warming winter tonic.
There’s the autumn leaves that drift like wind-blown confetti on lawns and at the feet of fences to collect too. Gathered together they turn into a rich and crumbly soil-improver that boosts the water-holding capacity of dry, sandysoils and encourages worms that aerate sticky clays.
November is also the one month of the year you can have a bonfire without feeling guilty, especially useful if you’re giving the garden a good prune or tidying through for winter. Stack the wood for your fire next to where it will burn and then move it to your intended spot just before lighting to allow hedgehogs the chance to escape. Save any forked branch prunings as natural toasting forks for marshmallows and toffee apples sticks. Hazel is ideal as it’s long and sappy so doesn’t catch fire, as is apple and cherry wood, but avoid poisonous laburnum.
Use the ash as a feed for fruit trees – sprinkling a trowel-full per metre over the roots. Enjoy!
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