In the kitchen garden, November is for Preserving, Protecting and Planning (and a little Planting, if you feel like it)
Here’s 10 things I’ve got to do in November… some ticked, some still on my to-do list (tick-tock):
- Free-up some beds, removing the last of the summer crops, for autumn planting: I’m planting broad beans, shallots and garlic.
- Protect leafy crops from pesky pigeons: cover with cages and/or nets
- Protect the bare soil from cheeky cats: best not to have bare soil for too long as ‘nature’ moves in… weeds, rain damage… and cats, who think you’ve had a deluxe communal litter tray installed, just for them. I find draping a few brambles or twiggy branches over the beds keeps their paws off and their bottoms up. Works too (Me-Ouch!)x
- Preserve and nurture bare soil with mulches: Spread a layer of manure, leaf mulch, or compost over the beds to help prevent rain damage and for the worms to ‘dig it’ down into the soil for you over winter.
- Tidy up and take care of your fixed assets: take down redundant bean poles, willows and canes. Bag and label clips and pegs. Make sure to brush off any soil, and put them somewhere dry over winter. Give tools a good clean and dry after use, and make a list of things to replace or that might be useful to add to your tool collection next year… (now’s the time to write your Christmas wishlist!)
- Clean glass on cloches and cold frames: and fit replacement panes if necessary.
- Protect clay pots from frost damage: by raising them off wet ground or moving them onto gravel. I find they add some height and greenery (in my case they contain evergreen box) around the suddenly-bare beds. With a little artistic arranging, even empty pots can add a bit of interest stacked up in the garden.
- Make a leaf compost: rake up fallen leaves and use a ring of chicken wire to make a contained heap. Use metal tent pegs to hold it to the ground. Once rotted down, leaf mulch can be mixed with your rich wormery compost, giving it body, lightness and texture.
- While working, plot, plan and scheme: Looking around at what grew well where. I make a rough list (and of course have photographs), so that I can remember what grew well and to help rotate crops next year. I’m also looking at where there’s space, and light, to expand my kitchen garden! Only do this if you feel you’ll have the time and desire to grow more next year… don’t ever let grow-your-own become stressful or a chore. It is, and should only be, a pleasure.
- Prune climbing roses, lavender, fruit trees: keep on top of weeds (they’re still growing), and tidy a little without getting demented… It is autumn, after all!
But if you’ve got the time, and are ahead of yourself, then here’s another 5 things you could be getting on with… Or just get a cup of tea, relax, and enjoy the colours and smells of your autumn garden.
- Shed maintenance: Repair locks, hinges, leaks, in the shed.
- Early bird: think about getting a seed propagator for the windowsill if you want to start your spring planting early.
- Order seeds: Start listing/ordering seeds/plug plants/seed packs for spring delivery.
- Get fruity: If you have room for a fruit tree then now’s the time to get it in the soil. However, think carefully about what, where and how you want your fruit tree. Never rush a tree! If you’re not sure yet, then take another year to properly research and plan it.
- Plant raspberry canes: If you have the space. They can be untidy, unruly and prickly. Again, needs thought and planning, especially if your garden is small. Your own autumn raspberries though? Very tempting…