Things to do this month

Sort out pots – use a loo brush to clean off all debris and stack them in mushroom crates or plastic vegetable boxes ready for next year. Get a system going where you stack the same pots together – it really makes potting much easier.  Clearing and cleaning now will pay dividends as far as slugs and snails are concerned – they will have nowhere to hide!

Make sure you finish taking dead foliage out of the greenhouse or polytunnel and clean and disinfect the greenhouse structures with Jeyes Fluid or Citrox.  Use an old toothbrush to get into the cracks and an old plastic card (not your debit card!) to get between the panes of glass.

If, like me, you have a host of gardening magazines that have just been dipped into, and not really read – now is a good time – if articles are of interest try and file them under the appropriate months of the year – then you can refer to them when you need to.

If you are new to your allotment think about how you are going to recycle things such as rubbish, perennial weeds, etc.  Try to manage rubbish weekly so there isn’t a build up.  When visiting allotments I have noticed that some provide skips for rubbish which seems like a really good idea.  Check if you are allowed bonfires on your site – diseased material and hard twiggy prunings can be burned.  If a bonfire is out of the question then why not hire a shredder for the day with your allotment neighbours.  You can then use the shreddings for paths as it is not suitable to put on the beds until it has rotted down – the reason for this is that it will take valuable nutrients out of the soil, such as nitrogen, during the rotting down process.

Try to do as much winter digging as possible – much better to do it now as to wait until the winter really sets in.  Turn the soil with a fork after digging this will loosen the soil and makes everything look really good!

It is a good idea to keep your eye on the weather forecast at this time of the year.  If you have sown hardy annuals for next year make sure you keep them covered with a cloche or fleece if the weather gets really bad, they can tolerate the cold but won’t like the wind and you will loose some if they get waterlogged.  If plants in the ground look waterlogged, then pierce the ground around them with a fork to improve drainage.

There is still plenty of time to plant bulbs, in fact November is a good time to plant tulips as it makes them less susceptible to tulip fire, a fungal disease the affects tulips, as the weather is colder.

If you want your tulips for cut flowers just plant them with a trowel, twice their own depth.  If you want then to come up next year plant them much deeper, 15cm (6”).  Look out for bargains at the garden centre; they often sell bulbs off cheaply at this time of year.

If you have a pond now is the time to remove old water lily leaves and thin out oxygenator plants.

Check your sweet peas and once they have three sets of leaves pinch out the first set, this will enable the plants to bush out.  Make sure you protect them from the elements.  You can begin to dig a trench for sweet peas and runner beans.  Make a trench two spade depths deep and line it with newspaper – then over the next few months put all your garden compost in the bottom of the trench and leave for the weather to break down.  This will provide the long cool root run that both sweet peas and beans need and will also help with moisture retention

Vegetables:  Continue to sow overwinter broad beans such as ‘Aquadulce’. 

Net your brassicas as pigeons are very hungry in November.  I often find that old cds strung up help to deter pigeons as they sparkle in sun and this seems to put them off.

You can store your maincrop carrots and parsnips in boxes of sand or you can leave them in the soil but you must cover them with straw and use them when you need them.  I find that slugs can become a problem if you leave them in the ground. If you have grown turnips and swedes these need treating in the same way.

Keep sowing salad crops but keep them covered.  We have some fantastic salad leaves growing under cloches and they are growing really well in this weather.

Try to find an allotment owner that has some rhubarb as now is a good time to propagate it.  Lift a mature clump and the divide into pieces about the size of your fist.  Make sure each one has at least one bud.  You will be able to see the fat bud on the division.

Don’t forget that rhubarb can tolerate some shade, but make sure that the soil has plenty of organic matter incorporated into it.

You can pick spinach leaves from now until spring.

Why not build a fire pit so you can have a good excuse to




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