Gardening Diary November Week One
November 5th (Bonfire Night) is generally considered to be the ideal date for sowingfor an early crop next summer. This is always a chancy exercise. Earlier, I mentioned that autumn-sown give a 50/50 chance of success; the odds are rather more favourable with broad beans in southern districts, although less so in cold northern ones, where the crop is usually not worth troubling with. Be sure to select a suitable variety. The most popular is Aquadulce, which has been developed for autumn sowing and is not normally successful if sown after about the end of January.
Choose a reasonably well sheltered site, but avoid frost pockets. Do not plant in heavythat is likely to become waterlogged. Take all possible precautions against attacks by mice. You can either draw a broad, shallow drill and scatter the beans along it, covering them with to a depth of about 5 cm (2”), or you can set them individually, with a dibbing stick. If the latter, be careful not to make too deep a hole in which the bean seed lodges halfway down, leaving an air pocket beneath. Whichever method you use, space the seed 15-20 cm (6-10”) apart; some gardeners sow a double row in the one drill, with 15 cm (6”) between the rows.
There is a temptation to cover the rows with cloches, to give the plants a good start, but do so cautiously. You are aiming for a plant not more than about 12 cm (5”) high to weather the winter frosts. If it grows any taller, the stem will flop over in severe frosts and be badly weakened. It is probably better not to use cloches at all but to let the plants take their chance. I usually scatter any surplus beans in a plot in a sheltered corner of the garden, in the hope that enough will grow to fill in any gaps in the main rows next February or March.
It is still possible to sow peas, with or without cloches. Be sure to choose a round-seeded variety, such as Feltham First, Meteor or Pilot; wrinkled-seeded peas are not suitable. If they survive the winter, they should give a welcome crop of early peas in late May or early June of next year. Again, you accept the weather risk. They will probably survive a mild or even average winter without protection but are likely to succumb to a hard one. Take every possible precaution against attacks by birds, mice and slugs.
If you have triedthis year, and have not yet lifted it, you can start to do so this week and throughout the month. You can either dig them all up and heel them in, in a convenient corner, with sufficient soil over the roots to prevent freezing, to be used as required, or you can start forcing them, a few at a time, straight out of the open ground, in a warmish shed or garage in complete darkness.
Leeks transplanted last summer and now finishing their growth for this season, can be finally earthed-up, to encourage the growth of long white stems. Earthing-up may also be practised with most other crops still left in the garden. They include heading(or ), , Savoy, , Brussels sprouts, celery, , swedes and . With brassicas the purpose is to help the plants to withstand the strains and stresses imposed by winter storms. With roots, earthing-up gives added protection against frost. Parsnips do not need frost protection, but a mulch of straw or bracken can make digging them out easier when the soil is frozen.
Rhubarb which is to be forced can now be dug up and left on the ground.
Frost and cold will condition the roots, which can be forced either indoors, or under straw, or in pots or boxes outside.
In wet autumns the lifting of root vegetables may often be delayed for weeks past the proper time, but a special effort should now be made to dig up any carrots,and still in the ground and get them safely in store. Examine these later crops particularly closely for insect damage and disease, and discard any that are affected.
Celery is best left in the ground until required for use, but it should by now be entirely earthed-up, with the slopes of the ridges sufficiently firm to allow rain to run off. In frosty weather it is helpful to cover with dry straw. Celeriac should also be slightly ridged-up for protection, and yellowing outer leaves should be removed. In districts which expect a hard winter, celeriac roots may be lifted and stored in boxes of sand in a shed, as with carrots and beetroot.
IN THE FRUIT GARDEN
Although plant growth is almost at a standstill now, this season of falling leaves, bonfires, roasting chestnuts and misty mornings is one of considerable activity in the fruit garden.
Planting most types of tree and bush fruits can now proceed apace. Trees-and bushes that cannot be put in as soon as they arrive are best heeled in until they can be attended to. Heeling in consists of digging a hole or trench, placing the exposed roots in the cavity, covering them with the dug-out soil and firming it. Plants treated in this way will not suffer from drying out, and will remain alive until they can be planted permanently. Trees should be planted in their fruiting stations at about the same depth as they were in the nursery. This level can be determined by the change in colour between the natural bark and the collar of soil stain.
Too deep planting of trees grafted or pot-grown crops of early fruits can be cultivated indoors under glass. These include apples, pears, plums, nectarines, peaches, figs, grapes and strawberries, to name but a few. These fruits are pruned in much the same way as those grown in the open ground. Firm potting, into well-crocked pots or tubs of a good rich potting, is necessary. The
IN THE GREENHOUSE
Ensure that the temperature in the greenhouse does not fall below 4-7°C (40-50°F) at night, but pay careful attention, too, to ventilation, especially in the damp, misty weather which may now be prevalent. Keep a sharp lookout for any pests which may be in the greenhouse, and destroy them before they can damage your plants.
If forcing varieties ofwere sown in a cool greenhouse or under cloches in August, they should now be ready for cutting, and it is still in order to sow more lettuce of suitable varieties, such as Klock, May Queen and Windermere, under cold glass for spring cutting. , and, of course, and may also be sown in the greenhouse, but will need a temperature of about 10°C (50°F) to germinate satisfactorily.