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8 November 2013

November Tasks for the Vegetable Gardener

Although we are moving towards late autumn there could still be some harvesting for you to do this month, along with seed-sowing and preparation for next year. Some of the following tasks should apply to you.

This is the time to harvest and store your remaining root crops still in the ground, e.g. swedes, carrots and turnips, although you can leave parsnips in the ground until needed. They are said to taste better when frosted.

Check any stored crops for signs of disease and remove any that appear to be rotting.

Early Brussels sprouts should be ready for picking now. Start at the bottom of the plant and work upwards. You can also eat the green tops from each plant. Prevent wind rock affecting your plants by staking any stalks that look leggy.

Celeriac can be left in the ground for the time being but will need protecting with a thick mulch to keep out the cold.

If you find that some of your leek plants are bolting, that is they are beginning to produce flower stems, you should dig them up. This way you will still get a usable length of leek. Leeks can be cooked and frozen if you have too many at once.

Folding your cauliflowers' leaves over the curds will keep them looking nice and white.

Broad beans are traditionally sown between late October and early December to give an early summer crop, although their success can be reduced by cold,wet conditions. Extra hardy cultivars such as Super Aquadulce, Aquadulce Claudia, Imperial Green Longpod, or The Sutton will give you a better chance of success.

Hardy varieties of pea can be sown now to crop in June, with varieties such as Feltham First, Pilot and Douce Provence recommended. Pea seeds are very popular with mice, so if you have a mouse population nearby you will be better to delay sowing until the spring.

Now is the time to plant out your garlic, which likes a period of dormancy and cold prior to growing away in the spring. It is better to plant named varieties of garlic rather than some purchased from the greengrocer. If you are planting in a heavy soil which holds water there is the possibility of your cloves rotting. This can be prevented by putting an inch or so of fine gravel or sharp sand in the bottom of your planting hole. Backfill with compost after inserting the clove.

November is the ideal time to be digging your garden over, especially if you have some well-rotted organic matter to dig in. You could also start a compost trench where you intend to plant runner beans next year. Just bury plant waste and vegetable peelings about a spade's depth deep, and cover with soil right away to stop animals scavenging.

If you are thinking of growing asparagus next year you, now is a good time to prepare your new beds ready for spring planting.

Make sure that any brassicas you are growing are protected with netting from pigeons, which become more of a problem in colder weather.

When you have all the above jobs completed, make sure that your pots and trays are clean and ready for action, along with your greenhouse.

Let's hope we get a good gardening November with plenty of dry, sunny days.

UK Gardening Directory - Vegetables
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