There’s something nice about the idea that there’s not much to do in the garden in November. That the gardener can potter around doing little bits and pieces, and justifiably spend the wet ones indoors. It’s like a holiday from the garden, after a long season of hard work.
You might need to net your brassicas, if the pigeons bother them, or stake them against the wind if you haven’t already. There may be root crops to lift and store, and you need to check your leeks occasionally, to make sure none of them are sending up flower shoots (you should eat them ASAP if they do).
Things to plant in November
- Garlic. This is the main planting period for autumn garlic.
- Broad beans (autumn varieties).
- Bare root fruit – trees and bushes, including rhubarb.
- Asparagus crowns.
If your green fingers are itchy, and you have bright windowsills, you can sow salad mixes and peashoots indoors. Or try sprouting seeds, for which you don’t need much light (only a room that doesn’t get too cold).
What to harvest in November
Brussels sprouts are one of those vegetables said to be nicer after a frost. The way to harvest them is to start at the bottom of the stem and work your way up, twisting off the sprouts as you go. They’re not the only brassica on offer now – cabbages, cauliflower and kale are all in season, as are winter radishes.
Celery and celeriac, and the first of the Jerusalem artichokes will be ready now, and there will be winter lettuces, leeks and parsnips.
Don’t forget to make use of the vegetables you’ve already lifted and stored, such as carrots, beetroot and squashes, while they’re at their peak. And if the weather isn’t too bad you should be able to harvest chard and leaf beet and parsley outdoors; under cover you could be picking Oriental greens and all kinds of leafy crops!
Hedgehogs are one of the biggest helpers an organic gardener can have, munching their way through lots of pests. They’re also lovely creatures, and there’s nothing quite like watching one snuffle (quite loudly!) around your garden. Unfortunately, though, hedgehogs are having a hard time. They’re one of the oldest mammals on Earth, dating back to around 15 million years ago, but the modern world is really taking its toll.
So, what can we do to help hedgehogs? At this time of year it’s really important that they have a cosy place to hibernate, so either install a hedgehog house or leave piles of leaves under hedges. If you’re making a bonfire for Guy Fawke’s night, you’ll need to check carefully that no hedgehogs have fallen asleep inside the pile. It’s better to keep the materials to hand and build the bonfire itself on the day, so you know it’s safe.
For the rest of the year, it’s important to garden organically, so you don’t poison the hedgehog’s food. They roam over large territories, so it’s important for them to be able to get in and out of your garden. A small gap in the fence or under the gate is normally all that’s needed, although a ramp up any big steps would be appreciated.
Like other animals, hedgehogs can swim, but will drown if they can’t get out of your pond, so give them a way to clamber out. They need fresh water in dry weather. And most people know this now, but hedgehogs really shouldn’t eat bread and milk – it will give them an upset stomach. You can buy special hedgehog food, but a small helping of meaty cat/dog food (no fish!) will suit them just fine.