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Top November Allotment Tips

At the end of October, grey skies and the Autumn rains came just in time to dampen Halloween.

A more positive outcome is that my pond at home, at last, started to fill up! There is a minor leak somewhere and the rain will at least save me lugging my recycled tub trug full of water up and down the garden. I do like the versatility of the trug and especially that I can grab both handles with just one hand, leaving the other free!

As we enter November, tree foliage is beginning to drop rapidly. It is easy and rewarding to gather handfuls of fallen leaves and store them in biodegradable leaf sacks. When the leaves rot down they will make leaf mould. This is a wonderful soil improver that aids moisture retention on the allotment next year. It is perfect for using in a runner bean trench.

I’ve been harvesting the very last of my summer crops and it has been another good year. The stems of non-diseased plants such as runner beans, courgettes and sweet corn (chopped up) are perfect for starting off a new compost bin. I prefer two bins in use at the same time. In Autumn, there is a lot of spent material to start off a new bin. It is better to keep the new stuff separate from the partially rotted summer material.

If you’ve just taken on a new allotment that is overgrown, weed fabric will be your new best friend! It is perfect for covering patches of weeds and instantly improving the appearance of the plot. The weeds can be scythed first or strimmed to aid the decomposition process.

Autumn is a good time of year to take on a new plot. Weed growth is greatly diminished and if the land is dry, there is no better time to dig the soil.

November Seed Sowing

One of the good things about having an allotment is that there are seeds that can be sown every month of the year. In Autumn it is largely undercover but the planning process for next year should begin now.

In November I like to sow some overwintering broad beans in my cold greenhouse or cold frame. The varieties ‘De Monica’, ‘Aquadulce Claudia’ and ‘The Sutton’ are all suitable for sowing between now and late February. ‘The Sutton’ can also be sown successfully outside between spring and early summer.

It is possible to be self-sufficient with lettuce if you are able to use pots or growbags under glass. It is important to choose the best varieties and at this time of year I like the butterhead type ‘John’ or the cos type ‘Winter Density’.

For a fast track alternative the little gem type ‘Vailan Winter Gem’ is a good option grown from plug plants. This variety does need a little more winter protection which can be provided by frost protection fleece.

The heritage radish variety ‘Black Spanish Round’ is suitable for sowing this month in pots for growing to maturity in pots in the greenhouse. It is great for winter salads or stews and can be sown up to the end of November.

General Autumn Jobs

November is a good time to continue the planting of overwintering onions, garlic and shallots. The cold weather is no problem if the soil is free-draining. The risk of rotting at the base is more of a danger than the frost.

Cut down the spent foliage of your asparagus plants when it has turned yellow. This tidies the plants up but more importantly, it helps the plants. Strong winds can shake the ferns and create air pocks near the crowns. This can allow water ingress and the crowns can be susceptible to rot over winter.

Double-digging of your plot at this time of year is beneficial especially if you’ve got a rough patch of ground. The frost will help break down the clods, rapidly improving the soil condition.

We hope you have enjoyed our Top November Allotment Tips and stay tuned for more in December.

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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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