Turning cooler finally, and so wet
Last year, November was almost tropical. This year October has been warm (I'm writing on 29th) but signs of a change are coming. We are forecast an intense, insanely deep depression of 950mb over England for 2nd November. I'm worried about wind and floods.
On 28th October we had 24mm rain in two hours. I'm impressed by how the no dig soil and paths can drain water really well. Even when it was raining at 48mm/hour, there was little water in the paths, and it soon disappeared. My soil is silt over clay, potentially sticky if disturbed.
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Many jobs- see my video tour of the garden late October
This busy time is of harvests, keeping the garden tidy, making compost, and ground preparation for the coming year.
With no dig, as you clear it's best to leave most roots of old plants in the ground, as food for microbes. Then spread the 2-3cm / 1" compost on beds, a little woodchip on paths. And that is it.
Adding cleared leaves to compost heaps brings welcome bulk. Cut or slice woody stems to length no more than 10cm / 4".
Brussels sprouts tell us about soil and weather
I had this comment on Facebook from Angela Blackwell in Nottingham:
I'm just discovering how long the soil holds its fertility and I'm so pleased. This year my Brussels are the best ever and it's only 1st year no dig, following your book, learning afresh! After a life time of mistreating my soil at last I feel I'm working in harmony with it.
She has clearly used a reasonable amount of good compost.
In contrast, someone on Instagram asked about black spots on her Brussels plants, known as Alternaria leaf spot. It indicates low soil fertility, and tells you to add more compost before next year's plantings, whatever they are. I know this from when I started a new garden on poor soil, in 1999, and had too little compost for year one.
If you are just starting no dig, and want to learn about controlling weeds and increasing fertility in the soil, see my beginner's page on this website.
The tops are going yellow and there may be weeds underneath, After cutting them down, mulch with any kind of compost.
However if there are many weeds, you could lay cardboard first then a little compost on top. The cardboard disappears before asparagus grows next spring.
Kimchi and sauerkraut
Fermenting food is an easy and fun way to store it. My staples for winter are sauerkraut and kimchi.
For kimchi in late autumn and winter, you have many options according to what’s in your garden and store, and how you like to eat it. Flavour keeps developing and is more pungent after a week or so - keep in the fridge if you like it milder. Add no water!
In this December video I used:1.2kg /2.7lb Chinese cabbage harvested 4 weeks earlier (it half froze in store!), 800g/1lb carrots, 400g/0.5lb winter radish, 6 spring onion, 8 garlic cloves, Dessert spoon ginger, 3 desert spoons coconut sugar (optional), 1tsp chilli flakes, 50g/2oz salt approx, 2-3% total weight.
Cut according to your taste, I like large pieces esp carrot. But that means extra rubbing to have enough juice from the vegetables for covering all ingredients in the jars. You can vary all these ingredients to taste except salt at about 3% by weight. Start eating at about two weeks old, when it's super tasty plus pungent. Everyone here loves it.
The only sowing this week is broad beans, in climates where winter temperatures are above about -8°C, 18°F. If you do not have mice nearby, it's good to sow them direct.. Either direct into dibbed holes at 6in/15cm spacing and say 40cm/16in between rows across a bed
Find all your 2024 sowing dates in my beautiful wall Calendar, the link is a sale price for two so you can give one as a present!
The white flies on my spinach leaf, bottom left, had fallen from a cauliflower leaf just higher than it. They are often endemic in autumn on the undersides of brassica leaves, and cause no damage that I notice. They are Aleyrodes proletella, not the same as greenhouse whitefly which suck sap.
These whiteflies are more than normal this year, and I take no treatment against them.
Harvest options in November
What's in season outside? Almost everything in fact, excpet for tomatoes and summer vegetables finishing. See the profile photo of this post.
- Celeriac – if leaves are still a healthy green, leave them a while, because bulbs will grow more. See the Septoria photo below – if you notice this disease, I recommend harvesting straight away, before all the leaves are brown. It is a variety called Porthos, which is supposedly resistant to Septoria disease but is clearly not!
- Celery is maybe close to final harvests, especially if leaves have Septoria.
- Chard and leaf beet are losing vigour – we find that it now takes longer to harvest the same weight.
- Lettuce is growing only slowly and soon it will be the final harvest – leaves are thin from lack of light.
- Cabbage – check for tight hearts, once once a head is firm, it risks splitting open if left too long before harvest. They store better off the plant once fully developed.
- Calabrese and broccoli.
- Cauliflower, including Romanesco, are now amazing.
- Parsnips can be harvested from now, even though the flavour will be less sweet, and they are still growing strongly!
- Carrots – we are finding much root fly, even under mesh! That is from June sowings. We then made a last one on 5th July – I harvested a few yesterday, and they also had some root fly damage! It's clearly a very bad year for the pest, although in the summer they were absent.
- Beetroot – gently twist any of a size you like from a multisown clump.
- Turnips are good, and Tokyo Cross variety is delicious.
- See harvest timings all through the year in a "Useful Information" pack, £6 in the shop