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This month in the garden - 2018

November

It's November and winter is on its way. If you haven't dug your sweet potatoes up, then do so now. They will turn to mush at the first frost. Habas (broad beans) can still be direct sown, as can carrots, radishes, parsnips, beetroot, garlic and spinach. If you have any empty beds, consider planting oats or field beans as a green manure. Cut them down in spring just before they flower to give those beds a big dose of nitrogen for your spring plantings. Keep on planting out your brassica seedlings and if you are short of plants it's not too late to sow some more from seed.

Lettuces can be direct sown or sown in seed trays as well as all your asian greens, coriander, rocket and mustards. Have a good tidy up now and put all your old finished summer plants in the compost heap. Don't leave plant residues lying around the garden to provide a habitat for snails and other garden pests. If you mulch it's a good idea to take the mulch away now, as this too provides a nice warm bed for snails. Weeds will slow right down now so you don't really need to be suppressing them and your plants will benefit from the warmth the soil will take in if it is exposed to the sun. Sort out your tomato and bean poles. Put all the old broken ones in the burning pile and keep any good ones that you can use again next year up off the ground and out of the rain if you can.

You may still have a few stragglers producing tomatoes.Take all the brown leaves off the plants and clean up around the base of the plants. There will be more chance of the fruit ripening if the soil has the chance to warm up in the sun. Although aubergines, chillies and peppers are grown as annuals in the northern hemisphere they are actually perennials in their native climates. These plants can survive the winter if it is relatively frost free. If you have any plants that you are particularly fond of, try cutting them back to about a third and if the winter is not too cold they will sprout new leaves in the spring and fruit long before any plants raised from seed next year. If the winter does turn very cold, you can try a thick mulch to protect from the frost, although take it off again when it's warmer and sunny. You could also try covering the plants with agricultural fleece during the coldest spells. If you have a really great chilli that you don't want to lose, dig it up, put it in a pot, cut it back quite hard and take it inside or into the greenhouse for the winter. You can plant it out again in the spring.

TIP: November is a good month to spread manure around fruit trees.

Reader's question: I have grown lemon grass and turmeric very successfully this year. Will they survive the winter?
Both lemongrass and turmeric will go dormant over the winter. The turmeric leaves will disappear altogether and the lemon grass will turn brown and look dead. The turmeric will reappear in late spring but it is a good idea to mark the spot so you don't forget where it is. If you have a lot of frost in your area you would be wise to pile quite a bit of mulch on top to protect the tubers from frost. The lemon grass can be divided and replanted. It does look quite messy and well, dead, over the winter but it will suddenly turn all lush and green again in early summer. You will be amazed at how quickly it turns into a big clump. If you divide it now you will have more smaller plants next year that are easier to manage. You can also plant some in pots for insurance or to give away or swap. Each stalk, planted with a little bit of root left on, will eventually turn into a giant plant.

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