Though Some Gardeners Have “Put Their Gardens To Bed”, November Vegetable Garden Jobs In the UK Are Many & Varied. Below Is Task List That I Have Used For Years.
I’m not an advocate of putting the garden to bed for winter or of sheeting down empty plots. It’s not a natural way to garden and want advocated by gardeners in earlier ages. indeed the Victorian country house gardener was expected to be harvesting food for the table every winter day. And though some came from stored fruit and veg, much of it was harvested fresh throughout the winter.
In my experience, maintaining a winter vegetable garden in the UK involves numerous tasks to ensure the health and productivity of our crops, even during the colder months. Here are some essential jobs for a winter vegetable garden:
- Protection from Frost and Cold:
- Cover tender plants with cloches, row covers, or horticultural fleece to shield them from frost.
- Move potted plants or sensitive crops into a greenhouse, polytunnel, or a sheltered area when temperatures drop significantly. In my area however I leave plants such as lemons and yuzu outdoors all winter. They are planted in sheltered borders and, though often looking sad in spring, survive and still fruit. In 2022 as I look out of my window on, October 28th, I still had lemon fruit ready to harvest. In 2023 I harvested lemons on November 2nd.
- Weeding and Clearing:
- Remove weeds to prevent competition for nutrients and to reduce hiding places for pests and diseases.
- Clear any rubbish that cn harbour slugs as the fewer that overwinter the better for your spring crops.
- If we get a few mild days try a few slug pubs in obvious places. Many slugs are still active and reducing their numbers is always helpful.
- Apply a layer of mulch around plants to insulate the soil, retain moisture, and reduce weed growth. Mulch also helps protect plant roots from freezing.
- Now is a good time to build a compost heap with all the organic matter from the garden plus any organic matter you can source elsewhere. There are some great posts on this topic on this site with a video on compost heap making from the 1940s.
- Even in the winter, plants may need occasional watering, especially if the weather is dry or if they are sheltered under covers that limit rainfall. Water sparingly but when needed. However avoid overwatering as plants full of water suffer most from frost. If in doubt leave the (most) plants slightly dry rather than too wet. .
- Continue harvesting crops that are still growing. Some vegetables, like kale, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, and leeks, can withstand cold weather and will be ready for harvesting. The soil is a natural store for many veg. this makes sense really as in nature the roots stay in the soil all winter and burst forth again in spring. In fact biennials are overwintering plants by nature of being biennials. If they were soft and prone to damage they would have died out long ago.
- Pruning and Maintenance:
- Trim back dead or diseased plant material to encourage healthy growth.
- Check supports for brassicas (such as Brussels sprouts or kale) and ensure they’re stable against winds and winter weather. But please note, farmers don’t stake fields of Brussels or Kale. The plants manage without it. It’s only poorly grown plants in loose soil that are likely to need a lot of support. In all crops you are likely to get the odd tax plant “ledge” ir lean over. But, if the soil is firm and you’ve chosen a suitable variety it shouldn’t be a major problem. Interestingly I find that brassicas grown on No Dig systems tend to suffer far less from falling over Han in traditional systems.
- Sowing Indoors or in a Greenhouse:
- Start seeds indoors or in a greenhouse for early spring planting. See my November Seed Sowing page for more information.
- Planning for the Next Season:
- Use this time to plan and prepare for the coming spring. Consider crop succession, seed selection, and soil improvement strategies.
- Soil Care:
- Consider covering bare soil with a green manure crop to protect it from erosion and add nutrients back into the soil. In my view soil should never be left bare or sheeted down for long periods.
- Pest and Disease Management:
- Inspect plants for signs of pests or diseases, as some may still be active during the winter. Treat as necessary and remove any infected plant material.
Remember, the specific tasks might vary depending on the vegetables you’re growing and the local climate conditions. Observing and tending to your garden regularly during the winter months will ensure a better yield and healthier crops in the next growing seasons.
Tag: November Vegetable Garden Jobs
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