From peas, kale and new potatoes, here’s what to harvest, plant and sow in the garden during the month of November
What to harvest in the garden in November
– Keep picking peas and beans to encourage plants to produce more pods.
– Harvest kale, rocket and other leafy greens in the morning when leaves are full of water. The younger the leaves, the better the taste.
– When picking hearting lettuces such as iceberg, make sure they are firm and solid. Don’t wait until the heart starts to grow longer as it means your lettuce is about to flower and set seed.
– Lucky is the gardener who has space to grow new potatoes. Even the most dedicated carb-counters find it hard to resist freshly harvested baby spuds cooked with mint and butter. Early varieties will be ready to dig up in warmer areas, but go easy with the spade or you’ll damage the tubers. Hand-harvesting is usually the safest way to pick potatoes.
– Bok choy, cabbage, lettuce, broad beans and carrots should also be ready to harvest in many gardens.
– Keep thinning carrots, spring onions and beetroot to create space for fatter final crops. Use the succulent baby veges in salads and stir-fries.
What to sow in the garden in November
– Sow runner and French beans every two weeks for a continuous supply. If you live in areas where it gets very hot in summer make sure you sow varieties that can cope with the heat such as ‘Sunset Runner’ or ‘Purple Tee Pee’.
– Regular watering is essential with beans. Also, if bees and other pollinators are scarce in your area try sowing self-pollinating bean varieties.
– Sow radishes between slow-maturing vegetables as they don’t mind shade and you’ll be harvesting them just as the other veges start to develop. Kids love growing radishes as they are very easy-care and fast-growing.
– Sow courgettes directly into the garden in warmer areas; elsewhere, sow in individual pots inside, for planting out when weather is hotter. Make sure you give each plant plenty of space.
– Fennel is high in antioxidants and you can use the seeds, bulbs and leaves of this aromatic herb. In colder areas sow seed in trays inside and plant seedlings out in a sunny spot when weather has warmed up. Sow seed directly into the garden or outdoor containers in warmer areas.
– Fresh herbs are essential if you like cooking so make sure you have plenty in the garden. Annual herbs such as coriander, basil and parsley can be sown directly into the garden or into pots and raised beds near the kitchen.
– Avoid very hot spots for coriander and parsley as they can turn to seed quickly in summer.
– For a continual supply of delicious fresh carrots, sow them about every three weeks directly into well-drained soil from now until early summer. To keep everyone interested try sowing a variety of carrots with different shapes and colours. Heritage varieties such as ‘Purple Dragon’ are a good bet.
– Sow pumpkin seed directly into the ground in warmer areas, or indoors in peat pots where it’s cold. The soil needs to be rich in compost and the position sheltered and sunny.
What to plant in the garden in November
– Plant out capsicum and cucumber seedlings in a hot, sunny position in well-drained, fertile soil. Water plants regularly when the fruit forms.
– Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes, a wise soul once said. When planting out your tomato seedlings, find the best soil possible (deep and loamy) and the sunniest spot. Buy some soil if yours is too poor, otherwise there’s no point in growing tomatoes as your crop will be miserly.
– If you’re growing tomatoes in a container, make it big (10 litres minimum) and make sure the drainage is top notch.
– Stake vine tomatoes at planting time using soft cloth or string, not wire which can cut their stems. Regularly remove side shoots (laterals) that grow in the angle between stem and branches so the plant doesn’t put its energy into leaves rather than flower trusses.
– Plant main crop potatoes such as Karaka, Nadine, Rua and Red Rascal, using good-quality seed tubers spaced 30cm apart in trenches 10-15cm deep. Mound soil up regularly around stems as they grow – this will encourage more tubers to form and stop them turning green (and therefore inedible).
– Kumara are more nutritious than potatoes and even more versatile as their leaves and shoots can be eaten. Plant tubers into well-drained soil on ridges to improve drainage.
Don’t even think about growing kumara unless you are prepared to give them plenty of water. They need temperatures around 24oC to do best so plant them in the warmest, north-facing spot possible if you live south of Auckland. Mulching also helps.
Words by: Carol Bucknell. Photography by: Louise Lister/bauersyndication.com.au