The clocks going back & shorter days have made a big difference to the garden here, but that’s not the only big change around here.
We’ve also had proper frosts, coating the ground with a dusting of sparkles. Though our sheltered garden has escaped so far. This has given me a second chance to dig-up or protect those delicate plants like lemon verbena, which definitely aren’t made for our winters.
Also on the to-do protection list is the garden tap. It’s been covered in an insulating layer of bubble-wrap, & since it’s smack outside the kitchen door, it’s had a top-layer of hessian to make it look nicer.
Apart from protection duties, seed-sowing priorities in the vegetable garden this month are:
This has to be done by the end of November before the soil gets too cold & wet. They’ll be ready to pick in May, seeds sown in February won’t be ready until July. Sowing at both these times means a good long supply of tender little beans through summer.
Here’s a vegetable that’ll survive the coldest winter without any attention. The individual cloves can be pushed straight into the soil, leaving the pointed tip sticking out & leave 20cm between each clove. I once crammed mine in closer together at the allotment which makes it difficult for them to fight off rust viral disease is. They’re healthier if they have plenty of air circulating around them.
Bare-root fruit trees, rather than ones sold in pots, are ideal for planting this month. Not only is this the cheapest way to buy fruit-trees, they settle themselves in & grow more successfully than pot grown trees.
November is also a good time to plant rhubarb, gooseberries & currants too. I love growing fruit because, other than a little pruning & watering, all you have to do is cover it when the fruit appears & you have your own fresh supply. I usually have lots stashed away in the freezer too for cakes & puddings.
Compost & Leafmould
Keep adding garden & kitchen waste to the compost bin. We didn’t have a compost bin when the garden was being done recently & I was surprised how much fuller our dust-bins were. It’s good to have a compost bin again & transform all that waste into lovely, rich compost to keep the soil in good condition.
Leafmould is also marvellously easy to make. The simplest method is to fill a big plastic bag with leaves & punch a few holes in the bottom for drainage. Then just stick it out of sight [behind the shed?] & wait for a couple of years – I know, but it’s free- for it to rot-down. It can be used as a soil-conditioning mulch over bare soil.
Can I just jump on my soap-box & talk about soil. It’s often the difference between an abundant garden & a struggling one. Healthy, rich soil grows strong healthy plants that produce more flowers & fruit, & shrug off diseases & pests more easily. A good soil structure holds on to moisture in dry soil & leat heavy soil drain more quickly. Poor soil is not fixed by adding chemical fertiliser to it, but by having a great structure [that’s what the home-made compost does] & then using organic fertiliser like chicken manure pellets or seaweed, that release their nutrients slowly into the soil.
A good place to look for fruit trees is Keepers Nursery, they have a wide range of stock & they do mail-order in the UK I’ve bought from them in the past, this post isn’t sponsored by them, I just like to share good gardening sources.
There’s plenty of garlic available on line, this is where I bought mine this year.
I hope the rest of November goes well in your vegetable garden, have you planted any garlic this year?
All photos: Jill Anderson