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What to do in your organic veg patch in November

Here is a great resource to help you grow great fruit and veg at home from our friends at Garden Organic. Like BigBarn Garden Organic work with schools to get kids growing veg and they are supporting our petition to get Food Growing on the national curriculum (please sign here).

So here is what they are suggesting to do in November:

November is the ideal month to start making plans for next year. Be ruthless with plants that performed badly; remove and replace with a better variety. Make notes of all your good ideas, ready for next year.

Don’t be too efficient during your final tidy up of the year. Provide over-wintering nooks and crannies for our helpful garden creatures such as hedgehogs, toads and ladybirds. Leave tufty grasses, small log heaps and piles of leaves to keep them safe until next spring. They’ll reward you by being on hand to control early pests.

See below for advice on soil, vegetables, flowers, fruit and herbs, as well as keeping the growing area healthy. Where you see the sign FS, Garden Organic members can check the relevant Fact Sheet for further information.

raised beds ready for planting

Soil matters
Keep off wet soil in all parts of the garden to avoid compacting and damaging the structure. If you absolutely have to walk on it in the wet, stand on a plank to spread your weight. This is especially important for clay soil.
Protect bare soil during the winter months. Use autumn leaves as a mulch (cover) during winter weather. Don’t worry if there are fungi growing in the leaves; they won’t harm your plants.
Refresh your knowledge about soil care by reading Managing your Soil.
Don’t stop weeding. Hoe off/pull out any annual weeds, and dig out perennial ones that are revealed. Compost green foliage, but not seed heads nor perennial weed roots.
Continue to collect fallen autumn leaves and pile them, keeping them damp, in large bin bags or heaps, to make leaf mould.

quality compost

Composting
Avoid bonfires. If the compost bin is still overflowing, just store excess material in bags until the heap subsides enough for more to be piled in.
Leaves with blotches are safe to compost as their diseases are generally air-borne and composting will break it all down. However, never add plant roots with soil-borne diseases such as Brassica club-root and onion white rot. Their spores will survive the composting process.
Give the heap a turn to aerate and stimulate the composting processes.
Check its consistency – if too dry add wet materials like nettles and green weed foliage and water them in. If too wet, add scrumpled junk mail, cardboard and small twigs which are good high-carbon materials and will aerate the heap. For advice on composting see Home Composting
Wood-waste needs to be composted until it’s thoroughly broken down, black and crumbly. Soaking large piles of shreddings with nettle tea will speed up the process. Alternatively, use fresh shreddings as path-coverings to keep feet mud-free in wet weather. Sharing the hire-costs of a shredder with neighbours is an economical way of dealing with piles of prunings.
Worm bins that are to remain outside need to be well-insulated to help the worms survive winter conditions. Reduce feeding in cold weather, as the worms will not consume very much at this time.

artisan

Vegetables
leek-bed
Check your leeks for ‘bolting’ (flowering). There is no way to stop this process so harvest the plants as soon as possible. You will still get a usable proportion of leek around the sturdy flower stem.
Net brassica plants (kale, sprouts, broccoli etc) against pigeons if you haven’t already done so. Pigeons become an increasing problem as the weather gets colder.
Lift and store all remaining root crops still in the ground such as carrots, swede, beetroot and turnips.
Download the Vegetable Growing Cards to get inspired on how to grow new varieties of veg next year.
Pest and Disease watch
Remove dead and yellowing leaves from winter brassicas. They can encourage fungal diseases and harbour pests. Clear leaves away into the compost bin
Check that the netting keeping pigeons off your brassicas is sturdy and held high enough off the plants
Control Cabbage whitefly FS and Mealy cabbage aphid FS. They can build up over the summer and survive the winter on Brussels sprouts, broccoli, winter cabbage and kale
Also Leek rust FS and Leek moth FS

fruit for healthy kids

Fruit
Continue to plant new trees and bushes supplied as ‘bare rootstock’. See Planting fruit trees and bushes
Clear competitive growth (weeds and grass) from around fruit trees. Grass in particular is very greedy, and can reduce cropping and may even kill young trees. Allow a square metre of clear soil for each tree. Mulch to suppress re-growth.
Pest & disease watch
Woolly aphid* Inspect apple trees for woolly aphids; look for a whitish fluffy coating where branches join the trunk, and in cracks in the bark. Rub off on sight as they can damage the tree, allowing canker and other diseases to enter.
* Install rabbit guards round trees where necessary. * Pick every last fruit off fruit trees. Fruit hanging on trees over winter is one of the main sources of brown rot infection in the spring. The other main source is infected shoots and spurs. Infected fruit can safely be composted.
* Apply sticky barriers to apple, pear, plum and cherry trees to prevent female winter moths climbing up into the trees. Remember to put a barrier round tree stakes too – below the tree tie.

Healthy plants

Herbs
chives
* Clear away and compost dying foliage and stems
* Dig up and destroy mint plants affected by rust. Replace next year with new, clean plants
* Check rosemary plants regularly for rosemary beetle. Remove and destroy adults and larvae on sight
* Harvest any lingering seeds and let them dry thoroughly before storing
* Pot up some chives to keep them growing a bit longer. They can sometimes produce growth throughout the winter in a cold greenhouse
* Check out our Herb Growing Cards for detailed information on a wide range of herbs

This is direct from Garden Organic’s website and has some great tips every month. We will continue to quote and expand on their input next month. As Boris does Brexit we all need to get growing food?

Your Local Food Map?

Many of our readers go on to grow their own crops, but often rather more than they really need for themselves. Please look out for places to sell your excess produce through our Crop for the Shop scheme here.

You will find places on our Local Food Map that have opted in with a carrot flag on their icon. You could even approach your local shop, pub or restaurant and supply them with fresh produce in return for a pint of beer or meal.

And please also advise them to join our map.

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