November in the vegetable garden and winter is beginning to take hold. Beds that were filled with late season produce are now laid bare, stems of runner beans have died off twisted around their supports and the greenhouse is all but emptied. However, there will be a few winter crops growing strong. Winter brassicas such as kale and Brussels sprouts and beds of winter lettuce will provide a welcome taste of home produce during the winter months. There are still jobs to be done in even the smallest vegetable garden, there are some early varieties of spring crops to be sown and plenty of tidying to be done. So before you wrap up and head outside take a moment to read through this short list of essential jobs to be doing in the vegetable garden during November.
Clear away climbing bean plants and then pull up, clean and store away the cane supports. Any old summer crops such as peas and courgettes should be pulled up and composted. If the soil is not too wet, dig over emptied beds and fork in organic material to help improve the soil for next year’s crops. Lift and divide any clumps of rhubarb that have become congested. Build up soil around the base of Brussels sprout plants to give them extra support. It is also a good idea to protect winter root crops such as parsnips from freezing soil by surrounding the base with straw or other insulating material. Jerusalem artichokes are an interesting vegetable to grow and will provide you with a versatile root to store for winter use. Cut the tall stems back at this time and dig up the tubers to store. Jerusalem artichokes make great soup and are delicious roasted or made into chips.
Any stored fruit and vegetables should be regularly checked and any rotting ones removed. Early varieties of broad beans and peas can be sown under cloches. Also plant out autumn onion sets and garlic. If you grow fruit now is the time to plant new fruit trees and bushes. It is also a good time to take hardwood cuttings from fruit bushes such as red currants and gooseberries. Towards the end of the month you can start to prune apple, pear and fig trees. Cut away the stems of autumn fruiting raspberries to soil level. Finally, pot up herbs such as parsley and mint in garden planters to sit on a kitchen window sill or in a sheltered spot such as a porch where they can be used for winter cooking.
Photo. Simon Howden