November in the Garden
Seeds can still be sown under cover and this is really when a greenhouse or coldframe earns its keep. You can insulate these with bubblewrap or layers of fleece. Even newspaper will help keep the chill off if the weather turns very cold. Do remember to ventilate on sunny days to keep your plants happy and healthy
Digging will keep you warm! Don’t try to do it all in one go; your back will not thank you. A little bit at a time is fine. Don’t even bother if the ground is wet and sticking to your boots as all you will be doing is squashing the air out of the soil never mind that the weight of the wet earth will make it so much harder. Some people say to avoid digging if the ground is frozen… if you are Superman its fine: for the rest of us stand back and watch Superman defy the odds and risk bending the fork or spade!
Garlic bulbs can go in. You can use the bulbs from the supermarket but we do not recommend this. Go and buy the proper bulbs for planting and you will get a better crop. On the other hand you might just reach for the ‘easy’ option when cooking and use the prechopped stuff which leaves more room in your garden for other crops such as parsnips. Salsify and scorzonera are two more unusual crops which can be dug up at this time of year. Kale, leeks and cauliflowers are reaching maturity, lots of carrots, and brussels sprouts (you don’t need to wait until Christmas day you know). Brussels can become top heavy and there are two things you can do – earth up around their stems or stake them.
We have had netting over our brassicas to minimise caterpillars eating our food. Now you might need netting to keep pigeons at bay. Cloches can be used to look after late salads and overwintering peas and broad beans, leave the ends open for ventilation and use a bit of net to keep unwelcome things out if necessary.
Most of what we harvest gets eaten fresh or put in the freezer but lots can be stored. Your storage space needs to be cool (not freezing), dry and dark if possible (light can encourage stuff to sprout). The main things we store are apples and onions. Make time to check the veggies and fruit you have stored on a regular basis. Anything that is beginning to deteriorate needs to be used or got rid of before it affects the rest. Two places in particular that pumpkins and squashes need to be checked are around the stalk and the surface they are resting on. These sweeten as they are stored and you can expect some of these to last right through to spring.
If you can only snatch the odd few minutes in your garden then use it to enjoy any bright autumn sunshine that comes your way. A bit of hedge trimming, prune a fruit bush or two, tidy up a strawberry plant, pull out any frost hit bedding or simply wrap your hands around a hot mug and wander around your plot.