Things are growing fast. Longer hours of daylight mean more time in the garden. Try heading out there before breakfast or after dinner - ten minutes a day adds up to an hour a week.
As the spring vege garden fills up, the last thing on your mind is probably summer drought. But now is the time to set out irrigation - it gets a lot trickier once the plants have grown.
|Planting time is the best time to add a watering system, to encourage deep-rooted plants that will be resilient when the top layers of soil dry out. Shown is a terracotta pot with the hole blocked (water slowly seeps through the walls.) Or use upside-down plastic bottles with the bottoms cut off. Find out more about low-tech, low-cost irrigation systems here.|
November is a great month for planting and sowing. Apple blossom apparently signifies a good time to be sowing beetroot and carrots. Likewise perennial runner beans have started producing new green shoots, which is a sign the soil is warm enough to sow beans and cucurbits (pumpkins, zucchini, cucumber, kamokamo) directly into the soil. It can still be cold at night however – I’ve got some tomatoes planted out, but only in the most sheltered of spots, while others are still waiting on the deck. Successional plantings can carry on into December.
There is often plentiful rain at this time of year, but keep poking around in the soil - a dry November can cause all baby fruit to drop from trees, so they may need extra irrigation, as will newly planted trees and shrubs.
My own garden is full of borage, and the bees are loving it. But in another few weeks that will all be gone, so think about what to plant in its place (zucchini, phacelia, basil?) Things are still changing fast and the garden is full of possibilities.
Things are at their freshest, juiciest green: It’s a great season for lettuce, parsley and silver beet, so make the most of these before they go off to seed (try dairy-free parsley pesto.) Top tip: If your silver beet is starting to flower, try eating the buds, before the flowers open – they taste slightly nutty. Stir-fry or steam them like broccoli, or dip them in eggy batter and fry.
November is also the month of flowers: Think about the bees and avoid using pesticides.
Jobs for November:
- Keep planting summer vegetables a few at a time, for a steady supply.
- It’s still cold for tomato seedlings, especially if they’ve been growing in a hot house - `harden them off’ by leaving them outside a few days before planting, or rig up a temporary cloche for shelter in the garden.
- Stake tomatoes, beans and peas at planting time to prevent root damage later. Tomatoes need 2m-ish tall, strong stakes. For cherry tomatoes, which have a more sprawling habit, try making cages, such as a ring of netting or a tripod of canes.
- Put in a root-watering system at the same time you plant - a terracotta pot with the hole glued up, or an upside-down plastic bottle with the bottom cut off.
- ‘Edit’ self-sowers like borage and calendula so they don’t smother other desirable plants. They are great compost fodder.
- Weed and mulch fruit trees and berries – make sure trees don’t dry out at this time or they will drop their baby fruit.
- Compost- it’s great rotting weather and there are lots of weeds and grass clippings at hand. Pile up new heaps, and turn older ones to find the black gold at the base.
- As you weed an area, follow up with mulch straight away to prevent weeds and keep the ground moist over summer. Take away a barrow of weeds- replace it with a barrow of mulch.
- Divide perennials and herbs- split clumps into smaller plants to keep them vigorous.
Sow seed: Salad greens, beans, peas, beetroot, tomatoes, basil, zucchini, kamokamo, pumpkin, cucumber, leeks, red onions, carrots, rocket, coriander, parsley, sunflower.
Plant out: Beans, tomatoes, zucchini, pumpkin, cucumber, peas, spinach, lettuce, potatoes, all sorts of herbs and flowers.