Early in November, where I live in the UK, you can still expect to see average temperatures up to 11°C. However from mid November the tables start to turn and you will see the temperatures on the lower side more consistently. For many, the fruit and vegetable garden are slowly going to sleep for the Winter. We may have seen our first frost of the year, Old Man Winter is nipping at our heels if he isn’t already here.
Did you know that in the UK grass will stop growing when the air and soil temperature are consistently below 5°C? Cold weather along can stall grass growth, so you can put the lawnmower away.
November used to be a month where we would see more rain fall, though I do feel that we are seeing changes in the weather patterns. The day light is less due to the clocks going back an hour on the last Sunday in October. Cosy, dark nights by the fire with a bowl of warming stew becomes the order of the day.
We don’t like our garden to go to bed in its entirety. During November, we continue to sow and grow in the vegetable garden. If you don’t try you will never know, so if you are curious, I would give it a go anyway.
Leeks, kale, swede, swiss chard, sprouts, cabbages (red and white), spinach, parsnips (which are actually at their best after a first frost if you have a variety that harvests well at that time), winter salads, radish and some cauliflowers are all plants that you can plan on harvesting through November with a little care and attention.
As well as vegetables, we still get some Autumn fruiting raspberries before it’s time to cut them back.
There are still so many seeds you can sow in Autumn. The weather can obviously fluctuate a fair bit here in the UK, so all my seeds are started undercover in some form. Be it the polytunnel, greenhouse or indoors on a windowsill.
It also stops mice stealing your seeds, leaving you scratching your head as to why they haven’t germinated.
This year I have just sown the following in the first few days of November. Don’t be limited to what I have sown, there are many options which I have not yet tried.
- Black radish
- Winter lettuce mix
- Lettuce cos Vaila
- Giant winter spinach
- Spinach rubino
- Radix mix
- Broccoli Stromboli F1
- Sweet peas (Mammoth)
- Broad Beans Aquadulce Claudia
- Meteor Peas
Everything germinated on or before 10 days. The sweet peas went in a little earlier and took a while longer but that’s ok too.
As well as sowing seeds you can plant a few things too, before the ground becomes less workable.
- Onion sets
- Bare rooted fruit trees
- Consider splitting rhubarb now it is dormant
As well as continued sowing, planting and harvesting, there are always jobs to do here, some of which are best done whilst you still have some warmth in the sun.
Clear your beds that are empty, mulch with rotted manure or leaf mould etc and cover. If nothing else, the cover will help the ground to warm up earlier next year, however it also supresses weed growth if you have that problem (we do!) and to stop the rain from leaching the nutrients from your soil.
Crops that will succumb to frost that you may still have outside can be covered with protection, Chinese cabbage, oriental leaves etc.
Weed any remaining areas that need it, clearing around the bottom of your fruit trees too. You can now prune dormant fruit trees except cherry and plum.
Did you know stoned fruit trees such as cherry and plum should not be pruned in winter as it makes them susceptible to disease? They should be lightly pruned in Spring or regularly pruned in early summer.
The debris from your plot can go in to your compost bin unless too big an bulky. We have bins for horse muck which we use when rotted as mulch plus a kitchen waste bin that we add leaves, cardboard, garden waste and other compostable materials too.
You can make leaf mould by collecting leaves, which my lovely friend Louise does.
Catch up with any other outstanding jobs, fixing leaky taps, covering the hole in the shed to stop the mice getting in, fixing broken gates, putting out solar pathway lights so you can see in the dark, prepare your bird feed areas for when the ground freezes. There’s plenty 😉
Check over any plants you have out, removing yellowing leaves and look for signs of disease and net if bird’s start to munch on them as their food source becomes harder to find. Make sure you offer them am alternative though!
Most importantly, plan next year’s vegetable plot. What will you need, what one thing would you like to be self sufficient in? What have you never grown before that you are going to try? Please let me know in the comments below, I love to hear other people’s ideas.