It might be a quiet time in the gardener’s calendar but you will be amazed at the November Jobs In the Organic Kitchen Garden. And even more shocking in November we are still getting raspberries and strawberries here in Ireland. This week though the weather is chillier. And I have a list of jobs to keep your garden thriving through winter.
November Jobs in the vegetable garden
- Lift parsnips and carrots after the first frosts when their flavour will have sweetened.
- Divide mature clumps of rhubarb once they are dormant.
- Fleece your vegetables at night if a bad frost is predicted.
- Use cloches and frost covers to help over-winter vegetables
You can take this time to make new beds as it is quiet in the garden – why not make some raised beds? Patrick Dolan from OYR Frugal & Sustainable Organic Gardening has a fabulous video on how to make them. I am a big fan of his and he grows a lot in a small space.
- Prepare a bed for planting autumn garlic. If you haven’t already, I personally like mine in by Halloween but you can still plant them if the ground is not too hard.
- Now is an ideal time to invest in mushroom kits. It’s surprisingly easy to grow your own mushrooms. And this is my next project I really want to get a few.
- You might need help to walk in the garden if it like mine. Make paths with wood chips which you can get for free if you are lucky from Tree surgeons.
- If you have access to fresh manure, now is the time to spread it across the surface of your vegetable beds to rot down over winter. Or if your beds are full like mine add it to your compost bins.
- Stake top-heavy broccoli and kale and draw up some soil around the base of the stem to prevent wind rocking the plant and causing damage to the roots.
Now is also a great time to prepare a perennial vegetable bed which will give you vegetables for years to come with just one planting.
5 Perennial vegetables that keep on giving, year after year:
This slender spring beauty is probably the most well-known perennial vegetable, and one of the most coveted early spring vegetables and its relatively high price in the supermarket proves it. It’s not a quick producer, such as many annual vegetables are, but asparagus can end up providing tasty green treats every year once they get established. Although it’s possible to start asparagus from seed, you can speed up the harvest timeline by at least a year or two by planting crowns that are several years old, which are usually available in garden centers every spring (or if you know someone with a large asparagus patch, you may be able to convince them to give you some crowns when they divide their plants).
Also known as Jerusalem Artichokes, odd as they don’t resemble artichokes at all. Sunchokes are a relative of sunflowers that produce an edible tuber that is crisp and sweet. This perennial vegetable can be eaten raw or cooked as you would a potato and is often described as having a nutty flavour. The sunchoke plant itself can grow rather tall, as a sunflower does, so it’s well suited to planting as a border or along an edge of the garden. But be careful they can spread like wildfire so I would keep these is a contained bed.
These thistle relatives, properly called globe artichokes yield a large tasty flower bud. Growing artichokes does take a bit of room in the garden, as they can grow to 6 feet or more in height, and like most perennial vegetables, a couple of years of growth is often necessary before they’ve matured to the point that you can harvest enough flowers to grace your table. While they can be started from seed, artichokes can also be planted from dividing an established patch, or from starts available from the garden centre.
Rhubarb is actually a vegetable even though we use it as a dessert and is a colourful addition to the garden. It comes in varieties of red, pink, and green which are the colour of the stalks. Rhubarb is best planted from a crown, which can be acquired from a garden centre and should be allowed to grow for several years before harvesting the stalks for Almond Strawberry Rhubarb Pie. Only the stalks of the rhubarb are edible, but the leaves, which are toxic to humans, make a great addition to the compost pile.
Horseradish is definitely a love/hate vegetable. This perennial plant from the mustard family is a must-grow for the spicy crowd and the sushi lovers. The leaves of the horseradish also edible but the large root of the horseradish is the source of the strong flavour. Like the Sunchoke, horseradish can take over the garden with the invasive growth habit of its roots. So I suggest growing these in containers.
In the fruit garden
- November is perfect for Planting soft fruits read all about it here Autumn Planting soft fruits
- Tidy up your strawberry plants – cut off any dead leaves and remove runners.
- Prune pear and apple trees anytime between now and February. But don’t be tempted to prune your plum trees now as they will be susceptible to the silver leaf fungus.
- Apply glue bands or grease bands to the trunks of fruit trees. This helps prevent wingless female winter moths climbing the trunks and laying their eggs in the branches.
- Check fruits in storage and promptly remove any showing signs of disease or rotting.
In the greenhouse/Poly Tunnel
- Replace damaged glass in greenhouses before the worst of the winter weather sets in.
- Insulate the greenhouse or polytunnel with sheets of bubble wrap attached to the inside of the frame, to reduce heat loss.
- Ventilate the greenhouses and polytunnels after watering or when paraffin heaters are used at night
- Clean out the greenhouse thoroughly. Wash the glass, the floor and the staging with horticultural disinfectant to kill any overwintering pests and diseases.
- Install solar lights in the greenhouse or polytunnel to help on dark winter evenings to check your plants. You can pick up cheap ones in the pound shop.
- As the winter approaches, take special care to not to over water plants that remain in active growth. Little and often is the key.
You can see what is still growing in our November in the Organic Kitchen garden in the video below
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