I always fully embrace November down on the allotment as it is really, the start of the next gardening year. There is plenty to do down on the plot as always. The winter months present us with a tremendous opportunity to further improve our plots. Allotment gardening is akin to building a house. Now is the time of year to lay the foundations or perhaps add an extension.
Without question, this is the best time of year to take on a brand new plot. I’ll look into this subject in greater depth next month.
It is also a perfect time of year to make a start on those big jobs that we’ve put off indefinitely because we were busy tending the plot during the growing season. I will also look closely at these over the winter months.
During November and the remainder of this year, winter digging is a priority task. Heavy digging such as this is best done as quickly as ground conditions will allow. This will give the frost plenty of time to gradually break down the freshly dug clods into a workable fine tilth-the dream of all allotment gardeners.
Conversely, if you are a fan of raised beds, winter digging of course is largely avoided. Other advantages of these beds are the soil drains better and warms up significantly quicker in spring.
Raised beds are therefore perfect for early spring crops, when covered with fleece or cloches. The Link-a-bord system is very popular, portable and can be expanded to suit the needs of your plot. Alternatively a few old pallets or scaffolding boards, treated, will make great DIY beds, cheaply and relatively easily.
There are still plenty of other jobs to be done. Check your asparagus plants and cut down the foliage to ground level as it starts to turn yellow. This now tired looking foliage has served its purpose and we don’t want it blowing around potentially loosening the soil around the roots.
Regularly check the netting on your brassica plants to ensure they are covered and protected from pigeon attack. Pigeons can cause a real problem, stripping the leaves of plants such as sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage bare, leaving just skeletal remains.
Check any recently planted overwintering garlic and onion sets, to make sure they haven’t been teased out of the soil by birds, looking for tasty morsels to eat. Once the sets start to root firmly they will be fine.