Higher soil temperatures, good moisture levels and lengthening daylight usually make November a great month to sow and plant all your favourite summer varieties. The thing that’s missing this year is the good moisture level. In over fifty years of gardening I can’t recall ever needing to water the vegetable garden so much in October. Mind you, there are many other things that I can’t recall, but still, soil moisture reserves are unusually low for this time of the year. Until we get some significant rainfall regular, deep watering will be required to ensure that summer vegetables get off to the best possible start.
SEEDS TO SOW
Tomatoes, capsicum, chillies, zucchini, cucumber, dwarf beans, climbing beans, butternut squash, pumpkin, basil, egg plant, melon, sweet corn, spring onions, lettuce, silver beet and perpetual spinach can now be sown directly into the garden or, as I prefer, into containers to produce seedlings for transplanting later.
Carrots, peas, rocket, radishes, beetroot, onions and parsnips can be sown directly into the garden. Covering seeds with a layer of seed-raising potting mix helps to prevent soil from forming a hard crust that can hinder germination.
Summer varieties of broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower can still be sown or planted but be prepared to protect them from the cabbage white caterpillars that will soon start to infest these crops.
Crops planted in July or early August should now be ready to harvest as small to medium new potatoes. Yum!
Potatoes can still be planted in November but the later they go in the ground the more they are susceptible to attack from potato psyllid, sap sucking insects that spread a bacterial disease that can ruin crops.
Earth-up existing crops. This involves drawing soil up and around the plants until only the top of the foliage is showing. It provides protection from the weather and insect pests as well as preventing ‘greening’ of any exposed tubers. The same principal applies to potatoes in containers, just top up the growing mix as the plants grow.
VEGETABLES TO PLANT
Almost anything goes this month. All the varieties listed in ‘Seeds to Sow’ can be planted out into the garden. It is also the time to plant kumara as they thrive in warm conditions and need up to four months to mature. Plants should available now in garden centres but be aware that kumara have a wide spreading habit of growth and so require lots of space.
November is a great time to plant plenty of basil in pots or gardens to provide lots of leaves for summer pesto. In fact all culinary herbs and lavenders can be planted now. Lovage is a strong growing, perennial herb that dies down in winter and pops up again in early spring. It has a distinctive celery-like taste that is useful in soups, stews and casseroles. Coriander prefers cool growing conditions so plant it in a shady spot if possible.
Contributed by Chris Green, SuperGrans WBOP Volunteer
Want to know more?
SuperGrans WBOP have launched a Life Skills Mentoring Programme for individuals and families wanting to learn how to start or improve a vegetable garden. You'll be matched with a "gardening buddy" who will support and guide you as you learn to grow your own food.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for an application form or download a form from here.