Gardening in November

The autumn storms have arrived and we may be tempted to pack up and hibernate for the winter. However, the fresh air, daylight and gardening is very good for our bodies and souls and we feel so much better after gardening! As always, there’s still plenty to get on with in the garden.  

If you haven’t already….

  • Harvest your maincrop potatoes and carrots. If you leave them in the ground any longer they are more likely to be eaten or rot. 
  • Prune your summer fruiting raspberries by cutting the old canes that gave fruit in the summer down to ground level. These canes are brown and woody at the base. Tie in the younger canes that are green-brown to a wire support and they will give fruit next year!

What to do now….

  • Gather your gardening equipment such as nets, horticultural fleeces, plant supports and pots not in use. Give them a good clean and store them somewhere safe where they can’t blow away in the winter storms. Taking good care of the equipment we have already got is not only good for our wallets but is one of the best things we can do for the environment.
  • Keep on clearing your brassica beds as you harvest and add the green waste to your compost heap. Chop up the plant material to smaller pieces with a spade to speed up the composting process!
  • Keep on protecting your brassica beds with netting if you have a problem with pigeons. They tend to get extra hungry in the winter so keep an eye on your brassicas! 
  • Check on your stored produce like potatoes, carrots and apples. Remove any bad ones to stop rot spreading. Also, make sure to eat the less than perfect ones first as the pristine ones will store the longest. 
  • Tidy up your fruit trees by removing any ‘mummified’ fruits from the trees and the ground. This will help to reduce brown rot next year. 
  • Harvest your crops regularly when they are at their best as they can quickly go bad with heavy rain, strong winds and an early frost, unless they’re protected in your Sprout mini greenhouse of course! 
  • Prepare beds before planting any autumn and winter crops by weeding and feeding the soil with your choice of fertiliser. Mulching with compost, grass clippings or well rotted manure is a great choice as it not only feeds the soil but adds organic matter as well. It will also stop the soil from drying out, stop the weeds growing and help against soil erosion. 
  • Plant out broad beans started in trays when they are a few inches tall in a sheltered part of the garden. Water to help them settle in but don’t cover them with a cloche. They need to be exposed to the elements to grow into good hardy plants. 
  • Plant out raspberry canes to give them a long stretch to establish their root system. Prepare the ground by working in plenty of well-rotted organic matter and then dig out a trench 20-30cm deep. Trim the canes to 30cm and space them 30-45cm apart in the trench and backfill. Firm the soil and water thoroughly.  
  • Lift and store your beetroot in a cold, frost-free shed. Place them in a large pot or crate and lay the beetroot in layers of just moist sand or old compost. 
  • As soon as you have finished harvesting a bed or area make sure to weed and add a layer of mulch. This will stop the weeds taking over and also feed the soil and its inhabitants throughout the winter. In spring, you can lift off any cover if necessary or just move the cover slightly to plant or sow. This will save you lots of time in spring when gardening is at its busiest. Compost, well rotted manure, leaves, grass clippings, weeds that have not gone to seed, hay, straw or hay silage can all be used. 
  • Keep on working on reducing slug habitats in your garden. It will make a huge difference to next years’ slug population. Tidy up, lift up stones, pieces of wood and keep grass short. If you move pots from outside into your Sprout make sure to check underneath and remove any slugs or eggs you find. 
  • Plant out garlic in a well drained spot, 5cm deep and 15cm apart. 
  • As the asparagus foliage turns yellow, cut it down to 2.5cm above the ground. 

Quick jobs 

Sometimes we only have five or ten minutes to spare but it is remarkable how much you can get done in those minutes! Also, imagine you did one of these jobs every day of the year. 365 small jobs creates miracles! 

  • Protect your outdoor salad with a horticultural fleece. It will protect your crop from strong wind, frost and hungry animals like pigeons. 
  • Go for a 5 or 10 min walk around the garden and collect any equipment currently not in use. Store them somewhere safe. 
  • Cut off any flowering stalks on your chard so that they keep on producing delicious leaves through the winter. 
  • Tidy up your brassicas by removing the lower leaves when they start to look old and tired. It helps in preventing both slugs and disease.
  • Bring pots of perennial herbs under cover to protect them from excessive cold rain. 
  • Check your plants and remove any foliage that is yellow, dead or looking diseased to prevent moulds and fungal diseases from spreading. 
  • Watch out for hungry animals like pigeons, squirrels and deers. Protect your crops with suitable netting or move what you can under cover. 
  • Go on a slug hunt! We are not giving up now because it is the overwintering slugs that will cause havoc next year. Look under things like pots, pieces of wood, clumps of soil and stones. Dispose of them and any eggs you find. 

What should I be sowing this month?

This month we can sow broad beans, peas, and winter endives outside.  In the Sprout mini greenhouse we can keep on sowing spinach, lettuce, salad leaves, pea shoots,  radish, spring onions, parsley and coriander. 

What should I plant this month?

November is a great month to plant garlic, overwintering onions, broad beans, soft fruit bushes, and cane fruit.

What should I harvest this month?

November can actually be a fantastic harvesting month offering calabrese, kohlrabi, cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts, celeriac, celery, swede, lettuce, radish, spring onions, leeks, chard, beetroot, turnips, spinach and all sorts of herbs. 

Gardening with children 

Gardening with children is wonderful and chaotic! It is the very best place for them to learn about and connect with nature, wildlife, biodiversity, sustainability and growing food. It is important to let them have a go and fail but it is also important to give them an opportunity to succeed! Here are some ideas that you can do with your children this month! 

  • Gather pine cones and let them dry indoors. They can be used for a variety of Christmas crafts next month. Also, see if you can find some seeds in the cones by tapping them upside down. Try sowing the seeds and place the pot outside so that it is exposed to the cold. 
  • Grow delicious pea shoots with your children! Get some supermarket dry peas (marrowfat peas), fill a tray with 1cm compost and place the peas on top. You can sow them close together and then add a little compost on top of them. Water and place the tray on a windowsill. Keep it moist and in a week or two you can start harvesting your yummy shoots!