A Monthly Guide to Vegetable Gardening - November
Articles by Garden Expert John Harrison
By now the nights are drawing in so trying to fit in the gardening work becomes more difficult but the good news is that there is not so much to do at this time of year.
The garlic should go in now to get away early in the spring but if you miss sowing it this month you can sow it in early spring although it likes a cold spell to give of its best..
Early November is the time for the hardy broad beans like Aquadulce if you missed this job in October.
Since the vents are closed in the greenhouse the atmosphere can become quite stale, encouraging fungal growth, leave the door and vents open on fine days to give it a good airing.
As with October, as ground becomes vacant, you carry on with the digging over. Although digging over is a pleasant job on a cold day because it keeps you warm, avoid digging over when the ground is frozen and certainly when it is wet and sticking to your boots. Apart from it being much harder work, your standing on the soil is puddling the soil, especially clays.
After digging over, you can apply lime or manure as required, but not both at the same time. Lime can be applied at anytime up to a few weeks before you are ready to plant but is best applied to clay soils as soon as they are dug over since the effect of making the clay less sticky will be amplified.
Most of the crops should be in store except for those left in the ground like the parsnips and Jerusalem artichokes. You can harvest these now if you wish, the parsnips, sweetened by the frosts, or leave them in the ground until you're ready.
Harvest winter cabbages and cauliflowers when they are ready. Cauliflowers will store well in a fridge for a couple of weeks if tightly wrapped with cling film to exclude air. Sticking with the brassicas, the Brussels sprouts should be starting. You are allowed to eat them on other days as well as Christmas day!
Leeks should be ready, just take what you need and leave the rest to stand until required. You could still be harvesting celery and celeriac, kale and kohl rabi as well as turnips, swedes and spinach.
If you've grown salsify and scorzonera, these should come up now. Salsify is often called the 'vegetable oyster' and properly cooked is a wonderful vegetable if a little fiddly to prepare.
It's worth checking any vegetables you have in store and removing anything that has started to rot before it spreads. Potatoes especially need to be checked and watch out for slugs that have emerged from one potato to go and damage another one.
Continue adding leaves as they fall to your leafmould bin or bag them to rot down for a year in a shady spot under a hedge. If you have any comfrey still, it dies back in the winter, you can layer it with leaves to create a base for your own potting composts. With the easy and cheap availability of commercial composts nowadays it is unusual to make your own but adding your leafmould will bulk out commercial composts and the potash added by comfrey is well liked by the bean tribe.
Finally, do check your netting on brassicas, those pigeons are still keeping a look out for a winter meal
Copyright © John Harrison
About the Author
John Harrison is the author of Vegetable Growing, Month by Month and The Essential Allotment Guide amongst others. His home is in Cheshire from where he runs the Allotment Vegetable Growing web site and grows his own fruit and vegetables on his two allotments around the corner.