Monthly Tasks: Elder Stubbs Charity allotments is a member of NSALG (National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners) and their website gives a lot of useful information (www.nsalg.org.uk). This monthly task list is based predominantly from information from them.
Overview: November weather can swing from crisp sunny days filled with blue skies, to dark damp clinging mists and fogs, and frost and rain can be expected in between.
Plan A must be to get as much of the Winter digging completed as possible. This is especially important on heavy clay soils (best to rough dig the soil leaving it in large lumps to break down over the Winter).
If you are planning to order manure it is best to do so before the wet weather begins and the paths then become too wet for vehicle access.
Spreading the manure: Some prefer to spread when it is frosty so wheelbarrows don’t get bogged down and compact the soil. Another view is to cover over the manure heap until near Spring time to avoid leaching nutrients when wet.
Plan B is to to clear and clean the plot of spent or diseased crops. Take a chance to shelter from the cold and wet and give the shed if you have one a good sort out. Check over the bean poles and netting to make sure that they are clean and safe to use again next year. Check stocks of string and garden line and buy new if it is starting to perish.
Vegetables: Sow – If the soil is in good enough condition, sow the hardy round seeded cultivars of peas to produce an early Spring crop. Hardy broad bean seed – Aquadulce Claudia can also be sown and as well as producing an earlier crop it also suffers from considerably less damage from black fly compared to spring sowings. Both will need some protection from the worst of the heavy winter rains, cold icy blasts and freezing soil.
Plant out: Garlic cloves and overwintering onion sets before the soil becomes too wet and sticky. These will struggle if the soil becomes too wet and heavy. On fine days transplant earlier sowings made in containers of broad beans and hardy peas – they will need protection from the worst of the bad weather and they will also benefit from being planted where possible in a sheltered spot.
Collect up all the yellowing and fallen leaves off the brassica plants.
Produce in season: Winter cabbage, kale, leeks, celeriac, parsnip, salsify, scorzonera, spinach, oriental vegetables. Root crops can be more easily lifted from frozen ground if covered by a 3 inch mulch layer of compost or straw. Stored vegetables could include beetroot, carrots, potatoes, onions, shallots, garlic.
Fruit: Clear the soil of weeds and fallen leaves under and around fruit trees and bushes (this reduces the risk of potential future disease problems). Complete any winter pruning but not on frosty days when the wounds will be damaged through freezing which can set off rots.
Take the opportunity to tidy up damaged and snagged shoots and branches by cutting back to clean healthy wood.
Produce in season: Apples, late pears, quince and medlar.
Pests and diseases: A quiet time of the year but still worth inspecting all plants especially those growing in cloches or in polytunnels/greenhouses. Rodents could be troublesome in their search for food and shelter.