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Top November Allotment Tips

I made a Halloween trip to my allotment to gather the last of my sweet corn. The plants had hung on remarkably well, considering this is Northern England.

The family enjoyed corn so fresh that sap inadvertently squirted across the dinner table! It is exactly this kind of freshness that you simply can’t replicate via shop bought produce.

On that cloudy, dank and drizzly day, that familiar earthy Autumn smell of damp soil and rotting vegetation enveloped my senses in a remarkably positive way. In a world full of uncertainties, it felt good, rather like visiting an old friend. The benefits to our mental health afforded by the scents of nature, be it cut grass or damp earth, know no bounds.

Wet leaves and mud from rain

Vegetables to Harvest in November

Excitingly, there are plenty of vegetables to harvest this month. Summer grown turnip ‘snowball‘ is still going strong. Unless the weather turns very wintery it should be fine in the ground until the New Year.

Swede ‘ruby’ is even tougher due to its high dry matter content. It will cope well with frost and should remain useable in well-drained ground until early March.

Beetroot ‘F1 Action’ has performed well. There are still plenty more beets to harvest as required. They are great for pickling for use over the winter. Beetroot is a great crop for both beginners and experienced plot holders alike. They are reliable and trouble-free in most soils.

The savoy winter cabbage ‘Ormskirk’ is hearting up really well. The warm, damp early Autumn weather so far has suited it. Fingers crossed for a nice cabbage or two for Christmas Day!

At this time of year, a key focus is to tidy the plot in preparation for winter. Spent summer favourites such as courgettes, french and runner beans, pumpkin and squash can be gathered up and put in the compost bin.

All yellowing ferny asparagus foliage can now be cut down for the winter. This will prevent it from blowing around. This can loosen the soil around the roots, allowing water to rot the crowns.

Remaining maincrop potatoes should be dug up as soon as possible. Any severe frost will damage tubers and slugs will also have a field day. Store unblemished tubers in hessian sacks in a dry cellar or garage.

Winter Plant Protection

A topical task throughout winter is to keep checking the protective netting on all brassica plants. This is to ensure they are covered and therefore protected from pigeon attack. Pigeons in many parts of the UK cause a real problem, stripping the foliage leaving just skeletal remains. This weakens the plants and while some may recover the yield will be greatly reduced.

plant protection netting

As tree leaves continue to fall, there is a great opportunity to gather some to store for twelve months in leaf sacks. They will turn into a wonderful rotted material. The resultant leaf mould is a great soil improver. Don’t be tempted to add the fallen leaves to your compost bin. They will rot down too slowly and are far better kept separate.

Vegetables to Sow in November

This month is perfect for planting out garlic, winter onions and shallots. Perhaps you were super organised and got these winter stalwarts in the ground last month. Do keep an eye on the bulbs to ensure they haven’t been disturbed by birds, scratching around looking for grubs.

Broad bean ‘Super Aquadulce’ can be sown this month for overwintering. Grow the plants in rootrainers in a cold frame. They can also be sown directly outdoors in well-drained sheltered locations.

Give a Home to Hedgehogs

Finally, do spare a thought for hedgehogs. They are in trouble nationally with numbers in serious decline. A hedgehog house is a great investment at any time of the year. It also makes a great present for Christmas for any wildlife loving member of your family.

Hedgehog houses can be sited both on the allotment or in your own garden offering a fine weatherproof hideaway. In any situation, hedgehogs are great allies in the fight against slugs which they eat as part of their diet. At this time of year please do remember to check for hedgehogs and wildlife before lighting any socially-distanced bonfires.

New Hedgehog House

Be sure to check our November Newsletter for helpful hints and tips!

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Lee Senior

About Lee Senior

Lee Senior is an experienced horticultural writer, RHS Yorkshire in Bloom judge and horticultural consultant. He has also had an allotment for over 25 years. After initially spurning horticulture as a career option, to pursue his boyhood dream of becoming a train driver, Lee soon realised he couldn't resist getting his hands dirty to make a living. Horticultural College training led, to getting an allotment at the tender age of 18 (in the days when you could actually get a plot quickly). My gardening hero, is Geoff Hamilton" says Lee. "It was Geoff who convinced me that you didn't have to spray everything that moved in the garden. Watching him on Gardeners’ World in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s was a revelation. I was lucky enough to meet Geoff and I’ve also more recently had the pleasure of meeting Joe Swift. Now over two decades of practical experience has taught me to work with mother nature, not to fight against her and don't try to tame her, as so many gardeners seem to be on a mission to do. Small-scale food growing is my passion and I can't wait for my two daughters, one who is 8 years old and the other who is 5 to hopefully pick up the baton in the future. Nothing beats the flavour and satisfaction of growing your own food. You simply cannot buy the same quality and freshness. Everyone can have a go at growing something says Lee, no matter where they live. Lee has also written his two books; 'Pennine Way, The Highs and Lows' which is a humorous, personal account of walking this momentous iconic walk. His second book 'Walking in the Aire', features 14 short walks in Yorkshire.

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