As the weather warms, November is a great time to start a kitchen garden. Use this simple beginner’s guide to help you plant and harvest veges
The best vegetables to plant in your garden in November
+ Planting garlic chives in your vege patch will deter pesky insects. Marigolds are also great at repelling nematodes, whitefly and aphids, and they do well next to tomatoes.
+ A great way to maximise space is to use vertical structures such as bean frames or a tepee of bamboo. Runner and climbing beans grown up these structures now will be ready to pick in 7-12 weeks.
+ You can also train courgettes and cucumbers to grow upwards. Plant seedlings when weather is consistently above 16°C for best results. Both prefer fertile, well-drained soil.
+ Plant main crop seed potatoes but choose a variety that suits your cooking style. Waxy spuds are best for boiling while floury types are better for roasting, chips and mashing. Spuds need plenty of sun and moist (not soggy), fertile soil. Certified disease-free seed potatoes are best.
+ Kumara tubers can be planted in well-drained soil, ideally in mounds (warmer areas only). Make sure at least 3-4 nodes are in the ground and keep plants well watered and weeded.
What you should harvest in your garden now
+ Pick young carrots as often as you can to allow space for the main crop to mature. Carrots don’t do well if left unthinned and the young carrots are delicious in salads and stir-fries. Do the same with beetroot, leeks, turnips, spring onions and kohlrabi as they develop.
+ Pick up macadamia nuts as they drop to avoid fungal infections developing. De-husk and dry them as soon you can. Dry in a cool place in onion bags or similar.
+ Many lemon and other citrus trees will still be fruiting. Use excess fruit to make lemon syrup, which is great mixed with soda water or poured onto ice cream. Limoncello is another great way to use up lemons.
+ Spinach is so versatile; you can pick baby leaves for salads, or larger leaves from the outside of plants so they will keep producing. The third option is the traditional method, which is to harvest the whole plant. Wash leaves well as slugs love leafy greens.
+Pick the outside leaves of silverbeet regularly while small and tasty. As leaves age they turn bitter.
+ Keep harvesting scrumptious garden peas. Show the kids how to pick and eat peas straight from the garden.
The perfect plants to sow in your garden in November
+ Spice up salads with homegrown radishes or radish microgreens. They prefer well-drained soil that’s had plenty of organic matter dug in before sowing. Try one of the fancy pink and white watermelon radish varieties this spring.
+ Microgreens are the perfect food to grow in apartments and on balconies. Sow in small pots on window ledges or any sunny spot and, after 10-14 weeks, snip off leaves with scissors. You can add nutrient-rich microgreens to salads, stir-fries or smoothies. Most seed suppliers sell microgreen mixes or you can use any vege seeds.
+ It’s not too late to sow tomatoes if you live in a warm area or have a hothouse. Otherwise buy young plants so they will have time to fruit. Dwarf tomatoes will usually set fruit more quickly than vine types. If you’re keen on Italian tomatoes, check out italianseedspronto.co.nz.
+ Sow runner and French beans every 2 weeks for a continuous harvest. If you live in a hot area, choose tolerant varieties. Sow 2 seeds at a time, about 2-3cm deep and water religiously.
+ Sow or plant annual herbs such as coriander, basil and parsley in pots or raised beds.
Words by: Carol Bucknell.