November gardening jobs
There's always something to do in the garden, even in November. Aaron Bertelsen explains a few key things you can do in the garden right now. Illustration Alice Pattullo
As we head deeper into autumn, there's still a lot to do in the garden. Below Aaron Bertelsen explains a few things to be getting on with this month.
November gardening jobs
If you are planning to use your own compost in winter soil preparation, give the heap a once over to get rid of any weeds. If, like me, you also use the heap to grow gourds and pumpkins, get rid of any foliage and stems still hanging around.
Just as with digging, there are two schools of thought regarding the sowing of crops such as broad beans. Personally, I prefer to sow in spring, keeping the soil clear for digging and mulching accepting that I will have to wait a few extra weeks for my beans. But if you do prefer to sow in autumn, this is your last chance to get them in. They will be fine sown direct, provided the soil is still reasonably warm.
Clear the foliage from Jerusalem artichokes, cutting the stems down to the ground. They take forever to compost, so I tend to send them away in the green waste bin instead. The roots can be harvested throughout the winter, as and when you need them in the kitchen. Take them from the outside first to stop the plants from spreading.
Check netting on brassicas. With most crops cleared from the fields, the pigeons will be turning their attentions to our gardens now so it pays to be vigilant. Tie the sides of the netting in well so it can’t blow around and be damaged.
Keep an eye on any stored crops for signs of rot and decay, and check that they are safe from marauding rodents. Apples and pears should not be touching, and potatoes must be kept dry. Good ventilation is so important. Very often your nose is the best guide – to me, a potato starting to rot smells like vodka.
Make your own leaf mould. It is so simple, and such a valuable resource. The famed nursery De Hessenhof in the Netherlands uses it as a growing medium and its plants are some of the healthiest I’ve ever seen. I love it as a mulch for crops in the ground or in pots, or as a soil conditioner. Just collect the leaves together in a corner, cover with a tarpaulin and leave to break down for a year or so.
Check over your garden tools and make sure they are in good order. Use a wire brush to clean any dirt and rust off the metal parts. Sharpen secateurs and other blades, and rub linseed oil into wooden handles. I find that as well as preserving the wood, this makes it a little kinder on the hands. Here's our guide on how to clean your tools.
Having studied at Kew Gardens and spent two years at Jerusalem Botanical Gardens in Israel, Aaron Bertelsen is now vegetable gardener and cook at Great Dixter. His book, The Great Dixter Cookbook was published in March 2017.
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