What to do in your garden in November
Normally the time for slippers, cocoa and autumn fires, there’s too much to do in the garden for all that!
There’s still time to sow lettuces, broad beans and cabbages inside or under cloches – or even in the open as long as you protect them in bad weather.
You can still sow peas in early part of the month for a late spring crop.
Onions can be started in small pots indoors to have them ready for planting out in spring. (You have to persevere with germination).
You can grow field beans as a green manure.
Plant garlic corms and you can continue planting Japanese onions in the first week. Cover them with fleece. (The best onions I have ever grown were on ash from a bonfire.)
Jerusalem artichokes, rhubarb and horseradish can all be planted now. Artichokes and horseradish can both be invasive, so choose out-of-the-way sites, or prepare to manage them! All enjoy well-drained, rich soil, so work as much manure or organic matter you can.
Work on your bare earth.
A layer of chicken manure and perhaps leaf mold, and then a layer of compost on top is the best way to encourage the aeration of the soil by worms. By the spring you will have a perfect bed for potatoes.
If you have the space, place a bulk-order for manure and leave it to rot down over the winter. If you have a choice, use horse manure for heavy soils, cow for lighter conditions.
Take a good long look at your beds. If you’ve been adding plenty of compost and manure you are making soil. The levels will creep up and you might want to re-appraise the way the garden is organised.
Still time to clean out the greenhouse and disinfect your tools with a horticultural disinfectant and give your greenhouse heaters a good cleaning to make sure they’re working. If you live near an agricultural merchants then ‘udder wash’ is by far the cheapest way to disinfect your greenhouse or polytunnel.
Bring in your delicate plants at night, put them out if the weather is good during the day.
After the apple harvest, prune both these and pears.
Prune gooseberries, if you don’t have a problem with birds. If you do, then put this off until March otherwise they’ll steal all the buds. Take any crowded side-shoots down to two or three buds, leaving any which are in the right place at full length. When pruning remember the aim is to have an open centre in each bush, to make it easier to pick the fruit later in the year.
Net brassicas to protect them from pigeons, indeed all your appetising crops, salads, late carrots, onions.
Remove dead leaves from brassicas to keep infections down and firm-in sprouts with your heel to keep them firm.
If you had clubroot give the soil a heavy dressing of lime. (A big cupful to every square foot. Wear rubber gloves and eye protection) Then cover with a good four inches of compost if you can.
Cleanliness is next to…
If you can, stop walking on your soil. The human foot is responsible for moving more disease around the plot than any other means. Get yourself a few planks and walk only on these. And more than anything else, don’t go walking over everyone else’s plots – especially their compost.
Pick up your rubbish and burn it. If it has spent some time lying on the ground then it isn’t worth composting. Have a bonfire and use the ashes in compost, directly on the ground or mix with leaf mold. Make sure you check for hedgehogs when lighting fires or moving heaps of old material.