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This month in the garden - 2021

November in the Garden

As the hot dry weather continues well into the autumn we may start to wonder if we´re going to get a winter this year. Stick to the plan and keep planting the winter veg. Direct sow habas and peas and garlic if you didn´t manage to do so last month. Continue getting the brassica plants into the ground as well as lettuces, leeks and onions. Chard, spinach, radish, carrots and beetroot can be direct sown too, but growth will be slow now as the temperatures start to drop. Bring in the remaining pumpkins and store them for winter use. Dig up the sweet potatoes, jerusalem artichokes and yacon.

Chilli and aubergine plants that have been late producers may well over-winter. Once all the fruit has been harvested and they have stopped flowering, the plants can be trimmed back by a third. Leave them in the ground and if they survive the winter, they will produce early fruit next year.

November is a quiet time in the garden. The days are short, growth is slow. But there is still plenty to do. Make the most of this time now that the pressure of constant harvesting and intense summer heat is over. Tools can be maintained, repaired or replaced; the tomato poles can be sorted and stored for next year or turned into kindling if they are past their best; the overgrown edges and corners of the garden can be strimmed and tidied up, and maintenance can be carried out on the acequias and water channels. Process your saved seeds, which are no doubt in various stages of drying, and pack them away for spring. Don´t forget to put your bean seeds in the freezer for a few days to kill any weevil eggs lurking inside. Label and date all your saved seeds. Keep notes of which varieties you liked and want to grow again.

Review your summer harvest and think about the quantities you want to grow next year. The importance of efficient harvesting is often overlooked. When the summer garden is bursting with food it´s sometimes hard to keep up. It´s often impossible to eat it all and many of us are guilty of letting good food rot on the ground because we didn´t manage to pick it in time. Do we really need 20 aubergine plants if the fruits got so big they were unpalatable? Could we grow just ten next year and endeavour to pick the fruits more regularly when they are small and tender? And did we really need kilos of cherry tomatoes every day? Could we put our time and space to better use and plant more plum tomatoes next spring and spend more time bottling them for the winter? Did we become overwhelmed with french beans and didn´t manage to pick them fast enough so they all went to seed? Having a glut of bean seeds is no bad thing but a shorter row of beans harvested every other day will produce more than a poorly harvested row double the size. Planting cucumbers, lettuces, beans and okra every few weeks will spread the harvest out and keep us in fresh produce over a longer period of time.

We´re heading for a hungry gap now in the garden as we wait for the habas, peas, potatoes and carrots to grow. Soon we will be harvesting kale, lettuces and rocket, and if we managed to preserve our summer gluts, we will have plenty of delicious sun-dried tomatoes, pickled aubergines, pesto and chutneys to eat with them. Food shortages only exist in the mainstream media. Don´t believe the hype. THE REVOLUTION IS IN THE GARDEN.

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