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Growing in the bay

Some notes on conditions and the local climate.

Despite being situated in east central Scotland, Dalgety Bay manages to enjoy a relatively mild climate. This is mostly due to the proximity to the river Forth and the low lying ground (all under 150 ft ASL). Where this is most noticable is in the timing of the seasons and the variety of tender plants that are successfully grown.

Never-the-less most of the Bay is quite exposed to the South, South East and West and through wind-chill effects, it can at times get as cold as any other low-lying part of Scotland. Wind strength is another factor and strong winds and fierce gales are common, as is salt laden air.

For success with tender plants therefore, try to take advantage of what shelter is available and use the heat stored in house and boundary walls to create a milder microclimate for your plants. Remember also that fences, when they can be made to stay up, also provide good wind breaks.

Dalgety Bay has a variety of soil types. The underlying subsoil is clay on limestone although some gardens are almost all sand below the top soil.

Acid loving plants tend to grow well, as evidenced by the number of conifers and heathers planted. Care must be taken with lime loving plants, like pinks. But in order to best appreciate your own growing conditions, you should have your soil tested. This can be accurately determined by any of the professional horticultural societies who normally offer this service for a fee. It may also be achieved (less accurately) by using a kit which is available from any garden centre. The acidity or alkalinity of your soil can then be adjusted by top dressing or digging-in the appropriate material.

It is also a good idea to see what is growing well in other gardens in the Bay. You can also ask for advice on which plants to grow from other Society members, or from any of the local garden centres.

November is a busy month in the garden for planting soft fruit bushes and fruit trees. Most of these are sold as bare-rooted plants and are despatched from suppliers when the plants are dormant. Plant them before the ground becomes too hard to dig. All of the hectic summer cropping in the vegetable garden is now over, but there are still plenty of veg to harvest.

The Vegetable Patch in November

Sow broad beans

Choose a variety that is suitable for autumn sowing, such as Aquadulce or The Sutton. Only sow in mild areas and sow more than you are likely to need, as some may not germinate or survive.

Harvest winter cabbage, cauliflower, kale and brussel sprouts

Early maturing Brussels will be ready after the first frosts. Pick from the bottom of the stem. Winter cabbage and kale can be picked when needed.

Harvest winter vegetables

There are still several things to be picked during November, including celeriac, leeks, Jerusalem Artichokes, parsnip, salsify, spinach, chard, swede, and the last of the squash and pumpkins.

Sow garlic

Garlic is best sown during late autumn. Sow directly into the soil, remembering to mark where it is!

emove runner bean supports

Take down any canes that you have been using as supports. Clean any soil off them and store in a dry place, such as a shed, greenhouse or garage. Looking after your canes means that they will last longer.

Finish collecting dried bean seeds

Remove all beans from your dried out bean pods. Check that they are completely dry before storing in an airtight container.

Remove all plant debris

Clear away all old vegetable plants that have finished cropping, and add them to your compost heap.

Dig your vegetable patch

Turn your soil over and leave it roughly dug so that the frosts can break it down. This improves the texture of the soil and will make it easier to work next spring.

Add manure and other organic matter to the soil

Spread manure, leaf mould, or mushroom compost over your vegetable patch (don’t use manure where you will be growing root crops though). The worms will gradually take it in over the winter.

Protect winter brassicas from pigeons

As the weather gets colder, pigeons may start to eat the leaves on brassicas. Protect your brassicas with netting as they can quickly destroy your crop.

The Fruit Garden in November

It seems strange to be thinking of summer fruit just as it turns colder, but now is the correct time of year to get most fruit plants in the ground. The plants are dormant and so transplant much better.

Plant fruit trees

Bare-root fruit trees can be planted now. You don’t need to have much space to have a few fruit trees, and they make a very attractive feature plant.

Plant soft-fruit bushes

Many soft-fruit bushes come bare-rooted and are now ready for planting. Place them in a fruit cage or in amongst your garden borders. Redcurrants, blackcurrants, gooseberries and blackberries all produce plenty of fruit.

Plant strawberry runners

November is an excellent month for planting strawberry runners ready for a crop next year. Suppliers are sending them out from this month onwards. Plant in pots or in a strawberry bed.

Plant raspberry canes

Raspberry canes need to be planted whilst they are dormant and, towards the end of this month is a good time to plant them. Autumn fruiting varieties will crop next year, and summer fruiting varieties the year after that.

Divide old rhubarb crowns

Lift old rhubarb crowns and divide into pieces using a sharp spade. Each piece should have some growth buds visible. Replant in soil that contains plenty of organic matter.

Stake tall brassicas

It’s worth providing support for tall brassicas such as brussel sprouts. Strong winds can rock the plants and cause the roots to become loose. A strong sturdy stake will prevent this happening.

Other Gardening Jobs in November

Plant flowering bulbs

Bulbs will bring lots of early colour to your garden next year by planting spring flowering bulbs such as daffodils, tulips, crocus and grape hyacinths. Plant them in containers or directly into the soil.

Move tender plants under cover

Make sure all tender plants that are not frost-hardy have been moved inside if they are in pots, or have been covered with some kind of protection, such as straw and horticultural fleece.

Rake up all leaves

Remove any leaves that have fallen from the trees. Either add them to your compost or make your own leaf mould. Pile the leaves into wire cages or place in strong bags and leave to break down. Pests, such as snails and slugs, like nothing better than a safe pile of leaves to hide under.

Cover compost heaps

Place a piece of old carpet or thick cardboard over your compost heap to stop the rain from leaching all the nutrients away. This will also help to keep the heat in.

Give your greenhouse an end of season clean

Give the greenhouse a good clean both inside and out. This will help remove any pests and diseases and means it will be in tip top shape when you come to use it again early next year. Insulate your greenhouse with bubble wrap if you are going to use it over the winter. Ventilate on sunny days to prevent mould from building up.