November in the Veg Patch

November is often a good month in the veg patch with plenty of brassicas and roots to harvest, some last jobs to do before winter weather sets in, and if you have planted autumn crops recently there will be a little nurturing needed to get the best from your plot over the coming months. The weather, as we all know, can be very hit and miss, so be aware of heavy rains and strong winds.

What's growing

Most autumn cropping veggies will have reached their peak now, and can be left in the ground until you want to use them in the kitchen – these include parsnips, cabbages & kale, purple sprouting broccoli and leeks. Be sure to keep them protected from pests – slugs, caterpillars and pigeons are still on the prowl! Celeriac will tolerate light frosts only, so be sure to harvest it soon.

Anything that you planted in September/October will still be fairly young and vulnerable (apart from quick growing salads) so will need some protection from frost in particularly cold areas, and remember that slugs will remain active in temperatures over 5c. A sheet of fleece is usually sufficient to fend off frost and protect kale, broccoli and spring cabbages from pigeons.

What to harvest

November is a surprisingly good month in the veg patch with plenty of brassicas and roots to harvest. Pull up any summer planted beetroot, carrot and celeriac before heavy frosts set in. Leave parsnips until the first few frosts before pulling them up. Cabbages and cauliflowers will probably be harvestable this month, as will other brassicas planted earlier in the year.

Harvest the medium sized leaves of cavolo nero (this is the best way to keep them growing a nice long time) and other kales. Brussels sprouts may start to mature now. You can either harvest them individually, starting at the bottom of the stalk and working your way up, or harvest an entire plant and store it somewhere cool.

If you’re growing winter lettuces and salad leaves you should be able to harvest a few leaves here and there this month.

Harvest leeks as and when you want to use them. Any last greenhouse crops should be harvested now too – you may have a few last peppers and chillies.

Jobs to do

November is a great time to collect up leaves for making a leaf mulch compost to use next year. It’s also a good time of year for doing useful things like building and starting a compost heap, making new raised beds and so on.

If you have empty beds, then make sure they’re weed free, covered and that all debris has been cleared up. Lay down a thick layer of compost or well rotted manure before covering them to improve soil quality for next season.

Keep checking plants for signs of pest and disease – chocolate leaf spot is a classic for spinach and chard at this time of year. Pick off affected leaves and leave healthy new growth to come through. You may also still find one or two caterpillars eating away in brassicas, and slugs and snails are still active.

frosty morning

Frost Patrol

As the month goes on, please beware of frosts! It’s really important to protect vulnerable crops – a mulch is a good idea for root veg and leafy crops can be covered with a layer of horticultural fleece or use a cloche to protect them.

If you’ve got tender herbs in pots, like lemongrass and lemon balm, then it can help to pop them under cover or in a greenhouse.