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Things to do in the dark days of November
27 Nov

Things to do in the dark days of November

Posted By: rocket veg Category: Seasonal Tips

Daylight may be in short supply at this time of year and the weather inclement, but don’t look for excuses to neglect your precious piece of earth, be it garden or allotment. As with most garden-related tasks, time spent now will pay dividends when spring comes and so, in no particular order, here is a list of jobs to do over the coming weeks.

Tidy out the tool shed

I like to think that I’m a tidy person but I’m always surprised how quickly my shed gets in a muddle, so when the clutter reaches the door, I know it’s time to take action! When we get a dry day, I’ll clear everything out, give the floor a sweep and then set about putting things back in the correct place. I’ll make sure that tools are in good order – all signs of rust brushed off and oil applied to any working parts on essential gadgets such as secateurs. If you store power tools in a shed (not a good idea on allotment sites for obvious reasons), make sure that the fuel has been used up as the oil in two stoke mix quickly clogs the spark plug and coats the cylinder, leading to problems when it comes to starting the strimmer next spring.

When cold weather strikes, mice seek shelter and a dry corner in a garden shed makes a good winter home, especially if mice find discarded horticultural fleece and the like in which to build a nest.

Clean and sort out the greenhouse

Discarded plant pots, seed trays and half-used bags of compost are great places for all manner of bugs and beasties to lurk. At this time of year, I like to wash down staging, framework and glass with Jeyes Fluid. Once diluted according to instructions, a mix of this wonderful disinfectant is also great for rinsing plant pots and other containers. I usually finish of the deep clean by lighting one of those special ‘smoke bombs’. Don’t forget to replace cracked or missing panes of glass to reduce any risk of wind damage.

Water collection

It’s time to clean out water butts, as well as shed and greenhouse gutters or the result of rotting leaves and other vegetation will be stagnant, smelly water. If your allotment shed isn’t fitted with a simple system to collect rainwater, perhaps this could be added to the list of winter projects.

A few more seasonal tasks

It’s time to add a layer of manure to veg beds, then cover with porous black weed control material to protect the soil and encourage worms to get to work. Wherever possible, avoid walking on the soil and damaging the delicate eco-structure, so use an old floorboard or scaffold plank on which to walk gingerly if you need to access those hard-to-reach-places.

Divide clumps of rhubarb; stake up top-heavy brassicas, such as Brussel Sprouts and Purple Sprouting Broccoli. Be sure to check those potatoes which you lifted a few weeks ago for rotting ones, a rank smell rising from the sack being a bit of a clue! One nasty spud will quickly set others off.

Tackle a project on your list of things to build - raised beds (be sure to use suitable timber which will stand up to a few years in the soil), a modest fruit cage, or garden seat maybe.

And finally…don’t forget to put food out for the birds – but if rats or squirrels are a serious problem on your allotment site, try to avoid letting seeds, peanuts and so forth dropping on the ground. An old tray hanging under a bird feeder should do the trick.

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