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December 31, 2009 / Malcolm Dalebö

November jobs on the allotment

  • This month it’s great to look forward to next year, look around your garden and decide what you want to change.
  • If planning a new garden or individual borders, use the winter weather to your advantage, as winter frosts can help break up heavy clay soils, leaving the soil more workable next spring. 
  • Dig over the ground, adding good quality, weed free manure and remove any weeds, making sure all the roots are removed.
  • With November’s temperatures dropping grass growth rate slows down. So with not much mowing to do it’s the ideal time to get the mower cleaned and serviced. At the same time why not clean, oil and sharpen garden tools like the spade and hoe.
  • Gather up leaves and store them for next year’s compost. Make holes in a plastic sack and fill with leaves, adding a little water if very dry. Tuck away out of sight until next autumn when the leaf mould will have broken down.


  • Bring some herbs into the kitchen to use over winter.
  • Continue lifting, splitting and replanting overgrown clumps of perennial herbs.


  • Pick apples as soon as they are ripe, remembering that some varieties can be eaten straight from the tree, while others are best left for a time, stored in a cool place to reach their peak of perfection.
  • Apply grease bands to fruit trees to protect them from winter moths.
  • Plant fruit trees this month, to give maximum time to establish a good root system before next spring. A plastic bottle with its bottom cut off, can be set among the roots at planting time, with its neck a few inches above ground. It will allow easier watering in the first year or two and to put the water below the roots to draw them downwards and discourage any surface rooting.
  • Hardwood cuttings of currants and gooseberries taken last autumn can be transplanted into their final positions, after thorough enrichment of the soil in the planting hole.
  • For an early harvest of rhubarb, lift some roots in November. Ideally leave the lifted roots outside for up to two weeks prior to potting to expose them to more cold – this is needed to overcome dormancy. Then pot up with compost and bring into a cool room or greenhouse at a temperature of between 7-16ºC (45-60ºF). Exclude light with buckets or black polythene over crates. Keep the roots damp but not wet. Stems can usually be harvested in five weeks. Crowns forced in this manner are usually much weakened and therefore discarded after harvest.
  • Start planning your crops for harvesting through the autumn and winter months
  • Try planting hardy lettuce varieties such as ‘Winter Density’ in growing bags, pots or border soil. 
  • Sow Broad bean varieties such as ‘Aquadulce Claudia’ and ‘Reina Blanca’ in early November.
  • For the earliest pea picking in May, sow a row of ‘Feltham First’. Sowing ‘Oregon Sugar Pod’ under cloches this month can also provide a crop of mange tout from May into June.
  • Cloves of garlic may still be planted outdoors on light, well-drained soils. Use only plump, firm bulblets and set them 7in apart.
  • There are quite a few varieties of onions from sets that can go in now. This  is the easiest way to grow onions, and they can be harvested earlier on in  the year. Electric is a good red set, Radar a good yellow and Shakespeare is  a highly reliable white. 
  • Sow some spring onions now, White Lisbon Winter  Hardy always gives good results. 
  • Many garden centres have shallots  available for planting now.  Shallots, with their sweet, subtle flavour, are becoming trendier, and they  store well.
  • Use your cold frames in the winter for sowing a crop of ‘Primo’ carrots.
  • Give protection from frost to root crops left in the ground, with straw or bracken, hedge prunings, or horticultural fleece.


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