November Grow your own

Order seed catalogues for next year, if you haven't already done so. Harvest leeks. They can be heeled in horizontally into a shallow trench outside the back door, for easy access. Cauliflowers can be harvested, or left in situ with the leaves snapped and folded down over the curds to protect them. Lift and store root crops such as carrots, beetroot, turnips and swedes. Parsnips can be left in the ground until needed, or lifted and then buried in a shallow trench for easy access when needed. They taste better when frosted. Make sure to mark the trench. Celeriac can also be left in the ground for a bit, but do protect them from the cold with a thick mulch of straw, bracken, or other suitable material. If you have Brussels sprouts ready for harvesting, pick the largest sprouts from the bottom of the stalk first. Stake any Brussels sprouts stalks that look leggy and vulnerable to wind rock. Dig up chicory roots to be forced. Pot them up after removing foliage and position them in a dark warm place. The tasty chicons will appear in three to six weeks. Seakale can be forced as well, but is best forced outside. An upturned pot or cardboard box/tube works well. You may have other vegetables ready for harvest: Jerusalem artichokes, winter cabbage, spinach, Swiss chard, kohl rabi and radishes can all still be cropped. Sow over wintering broad beans (mild areas only) outside or under cloches where the soil is well drained, or in pots in an unheated greenhouse in cold districts. Harvests should be marginally earlier than the first spring sowings. Plant garlic cloves in modules inside a cold frame, or outdoors in mild areas in its final position (free-draining soils and low rainfall areas only). Clear late-season debris off the vegetable plots, and dispose of it as advised below in pest & disease watch. Clean and store bamboo canes in the shed or other dry place to ensure they're still in good condition for next year. Dig over, incorporating well-rotted organic matter if available and weed vacant areas of the vegetable plot. Once they are fully wetted by winter rain, cover them with thick black polythene or other opaque covering, and leave them until next season, when they will be easy to prepare for planting and sowing. After digging, you may want to mulch. Winter rye can still be sown as a green manure well into November. Now is a good time to get ahead and prepare new asparagus beds for planting up in the spring. Plenty of organic matter and grit will help to improve drainage to the level required by asparagus. A raised bed could be a good investment on heavy clay soil, to make it more asparagus friendly. Pest & disease watch Ensure that crops remaining in the ground, and new sowings under cloches, are protected from mice. Cloches should be securely closed, and traps, bait, or ultrasonic devices nearby may be of some help. Pigeons are serious pests of brassicas and other vegetables. Cloches, frames of netting or fleece, and metal cages will help to keep them away from vulnerable crops. Remove any yellowed leaves on Brussels sprouts and other brassicas. This will prevent the development of grey mould and brassica downy mildew. Remove all remaining plant debris from the vegetable plot. Do not compost any diseased material such as blight-infected potatoes, onions suffering from white rot and any crops with rust. Burn or bin the diseased material, or bury it very deeply in the ground. Digging over the soil in winter exposes soil pests to frost and bird predators. Frost will help improve soil structure. Place mouse controls near stored fruit and vegetables. Regularly check stores and remove rotting and mouldy specimens. Material courtesy of www.grow-your-own-vegetables.com

Back