Allotment jobs for NovemberPosted By: rocket veg Category: Growing Veg, Seasonal Tips
Shorter days are with us - the nights are drawing in – a cold wind doth blow - but don’t use this as an excuse to neglect your allotment. Dry days during November are a real bonus, so make the most of them for doing any final digging and weeding – as well as a number of other jobs to keep your precious piece of land in tip-top shape before frost descends and heavy rains sweep in. Here are a few helpful suggestions for you to consider.
Although there’s no need to rush, as this is a job which can be done any time between now and the end of February, make a start on pruning soft fruit bushes. Varieties of raspberries which fruit in the autumn (eg ‘Autumn Bliss’ and ‘All Gold’) produce the following season’s fruit on new wood, so winter is the time to cut all of the old canes to ground level. Thin out blackcurrant bushes by removing approximately a third of the old stems – those which are much darker in appearance – to encourage healthy new shoots to develop from the base of the plants. Redcurrant and gooseberry bushes are treated differently: reduce the length of the healthy ones by a third and open up the centre of each bush, creating a goblet shape, so that light and air can circulate, helping fruit buds to develop and reducing the risk of disease. Don’t forget to cut out any dead or diseased stems as you go.
Protecting your crops
By their very nature, over-wintering crops can withstand the worst weather but are susceptible to attack from pests, such as birds. Pigeons in particular are on the lookout for easy pickings, so cover your brassica crops with suitable netting, supported on canes so that the mesh is lifted well clear of the plants, or the scavenging birds will be able to sit on top and feast on the tasty leaves. Not all plants need protection: those broad beans which you sowed a few weeks ago should now be small, sturdy plants which will cope surprisingly well in all but the worst winter weather.
Support Brussels sprouts
If you haven’t done so already, insert a strong cane alongside each of your Brussels sprouts plants and secure with strong garden twine before they become top heavy and are blown over by the wind. As the sprouts develop and are picked, remove the yellow leaves from the lower part of the stem in order to encourage the smaller sprouts at the top of each plant to develop. It’s also a good idea to draw some soil around the base of the stalks of any tall brassica plants – cabbages, caulis and the like - and firm it down with your heel to stop the plant rocking and becoming loose.
Make more compost
By now, you should have removed the remains of any old plants and added these to your compost heap. Don’t neglect old plants as they will provide a hiding place for pests over the winter. Dead leaves make wonderful compost, usually referred to as ‘leaf mould’, so if you are able to collect a good quantity, start a separate heap which can be covered to help the leaves to rot down.
A word about bonfires
Before resorting to a bonfire, please bear in mind that all soft green matter will convert to wonderful compost and discarded ‘prunings’ can be piled in a corner and left to quietly rot down. If you simply must have a fire, please check the rules which apply to your allotment site – in particular, showing consideration for other tenants who may be present - and only burn dry, organic matter which will produce the minimum of smoke.
Crops to harvest now
November may seem like a low point in the gardening year, but a surprising number of crops can be harvested and enjoyed now, including maincrop carrots, cabbages, cauliflowers and Brussels sprouts, celeriac and celery.