At this time of year on the allotment I always feel an inherent need to tidy up! With that in mind, now is the perfect time to gather fallen leaves to make leaf mould. Putting the leaves in a biodegradable leaf sack is a simple way to store the leaves while they rot down out of the way in a corner somewhere. This will take around twelve months.
This is a great time of year for topping up your compost bins too with disease-free plant material before winter really sets in.
Having said all that, we really should resist the urge to take the tidiness theme too far on the allotment, particularly on organically run plots.
With that in mind, in November, I like to make a small hedgehog pile in an unused corner of my plot with fallen branches or large twigs that are often invariably found lying around.
A purpose built hedgehog house is another option worth considering. The harsh reality is hedgehogs are in decline and need our help. They are great allies too in the fight against slugs which they eat as part of their diet. Do remember as it is Guy Fawkes time of year, to check for hedgehogs before lighting any bonfires.
As the month progresses I will be sowing plenty of over wintering broad beans. I have been growing the tried and tested variety “Aquadulce Claudia” now for over two decades and it has never let me down.
At this time of year I sow the seed two different ways. I start some off in trays under glass for planting out later. And if ground conditions are favourable I directly sow some seed in situ. The dwarf variety “The Sutton” can be sown during autumn, with cloche protection over winter. Both will be ready at least a month sooner than spring soon varieties.
Round seeded pea varieties are a pretty hardy bunch and some can be sown this month directly in cells, or directly for overwintering in sheltered areas.
The lovely tasting variety “Douce Provence” is ideal and will crop six weeks earlier than spring sown counterparts. I always regard peas as being slightly less hardy than broad beans and I protect them accordingly in severe weather.
There are plenty of crops in season this month. Further proof of the exciting fact that allotments really can produce food all the year round.
The following are all ready to pick over the next few weeks: Cabbage (hardy winter types), Carrots (ideally grown in pots and containers), Cauliflower ( winter), Jerusalem Artichokes, Kale, Leeks and Swede.