Monthly Growing Guide By Alan J Hartley For
Wellington Fields Allotments - Hixon.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec


Plant Out. 
There is still some planting that can be done this month in preparation for a harvest next season. One thing that can go in is the old, traditional variety of Jerusalem Artichokes as they need a long growing season. The newer varieties like Fuseau can be planted in the coming Spring. Jerusalem Artichokes are not a popular vegetable, due mainly to the unkind nickname of “Fartichokes,” that they have because they cause a reaction in the stomach like Cabbages and Baked Beans! However, like them they are supposed to be full of health giving properties and they are very undemanding as a crop with few problems. Indeed, they will help break up poor soil and can even be used to provide a seasonal windbreak. Another advantage, or perhaps disadvantage, depending on how you look at it, is that they will happily self-set from any little bits left in the ground from when you harvest them.

As the leaves come off the trees and bushes it signals the start of the time for planting Bare Root. Some bare root plants can be bought from Garden Centres and other shops, but most of the trade is done by Mail Order, or perhaps I should say over the Internet these days. “Bare Root,” means the plants have had the soil removed from their roots and then the roots have usually been wrapped in something moist like Moss, or wet paper before being packaged prior to being sent out by carrier. Not being in heavy pots full of soil makes the job of transporting them very much easier and cheaper for Mail Order companies. For the buyer, it means that they can choose from a wider range of plants than they would see in local shops, but more care is needed when planting them over pot sold specimens. Generally, plants will also be considerably less impressive and take a year, or two, to fully recover from their ordeal.

For the flower garden you can continue Planting Spring Flowering Bulbs and indeed as the weeks go by some retailers will start and reduce the price of packets to clear them out for Christmas goods. This offers the opportunity for the thrifty gardener to get a bargain.

By November nearly all fruits have finished with the exception of Medlars. These are an old fashioned fruit that is very much out of favour, but deserves to be more popular. Traditionally the fruits are allowed to get frosted, before picking and are then made into a bright red, clear Jam, or Jelly, to be eaten with meat dishes. Personally, I like to peel them after they have ripened and mix them in with fruit salads. Medlars are very soft when ripe with the texture of soft fudge and quite sweet with a faint reminiscence of Pears to which they are related. The common name of “Dogs Bottom,” which doesn’t help with their popularity, comes from the appearance of the fruit, which viewed from a certain angle, does look like a Dogs bottom.
Just about the last fruit of the year to harvest is that of Arbutus Unedo, or the Strawberry Tree, which will go on fruiting through December. The tree gets its name from the fact that the fruits do look very much like smallish Strawberries and although pleasant, they don’t taste like them and they do have a gritty texture.
Early frosts will by now have taken the tops of Jerusalem Artichokes and Oca, if you have grown either of these unusual vegetables. However, both of these root vegetables will be ready to harvest and can safely be left in the ground for weeks until wanted, but it is advisable to remove the tops to prevent rot setting in. The tough Artichoke stems may need something stronger than Secateurs to cut through their stems, but the Oca tops can easily be cleared up. Of course the waste can be composted and the Artichoke stems in particular make good compost due to their fibrous nature.

Other Jobs To Do
On the subject of Fruit there are plenty of things that need attention in November. Firstly you need to remove all of the undeveloped Figs on your trees. Many books used to say that these would provide the fruit for next year, but now the thought is that the embryo fruit will be damaged by Winter frosts and so prevent fruit from developing next season. Hence, the current recommendation is to remove anything bigger than a large bud. If you break off the undeveloped fruit too early in the Autumn they will bleed a milky sap that is very sticky, even so, if they are snapped off cleanly there should be no problems.
Strawberry plants should be cut back to remove the dead foliage and tidy them up for winter otherwise the dead leaves can start rot in the crowns of the plants. Plants can of course also be dug up, divided and replanted.
The same goes for tidying up dead Rhubarb leaves. If your plants are very large it is also a good time to lift and divide them. It may seem brutal, but all you need to do is put a spade through the mass making sure that there is at least one growing point, or big fat bud, on each piece. When you replant them don’t worry if there doesn’t appear to be much root on each piece as the energy is in the Crown and they will soon re-root. However, when replanting them, it is most important that you make sure that the Crowns of the Rhubarb are not covered up with soil, as this will cause them to rot. At this time of year it is a good idea to give your Rhubarb a Mulch of Manure. Normally you would not use fresh manure to mulch plants with as it is very strong and can burn the roots. However, Rhubarb plants will be quite happy with this as long as you leave the Crowns exposed.
With Winter coming it is time to take in and dry off your Gladiola bulbs, unless they were labelled as suitable for naturalising when you bought them, in which case they can be left in situ.
If you have grown Yacon, which are a member of the Dahlia family, it is time to lift the Crowns to save them for next season. The cold nights will have taken the tops by now, but the Crowns will almost certainly still be viable with the Tubers remaining healthy underground and fit to harvest throughout the winter. The growing buds, need to be cut out of the bulk of the Crowns and cut into about 2 inch cubes, before being over wintered in dryish compost, in frost free conditions. Then as Spring comes they can be started into growth ready to plant out, next season, after the frosts have finished.
Other tender plants like Olives, Tender Figs and Bay trees can be wrapped with Horticultural Fleece to protect them against the worst to come of the winter.
Chrysanthemums now need to be cut down, dug up and taken inside a frost-free greenhouse if you are to save the plants, or “Stools,” for next year. Plants are susceptible to Mould during Winter, so should be kept fairly dry and well ventilated until they start back into growth in early Spring.

Taking Hardwood cuttings is another job that can be done now that the leaves have fallen. Things like Fruit bushes - especially Currants, Gooseberries and Goji berries are ideal as they all root readily. Cuttings should be between 9 and 12 inches long and cut just below a leaf bud. Then all you need to do is push them firmly into a patch of good soil leaving just a few inches of stem exposed and leave them until they show signs of growth next summer. A few trees like Figs, Mulberry and Hazel will also root in the right conditions, although they are not as easy.

Hard pruning of Apple trees to thin out main branches and remove any damaged, or crossing branches can be done now and also throughout the winter as long as no hard frosts are forecast immediately after pruning. Indeed most Deciduous trees including Currant Bushes can be pruned now. However, although, Black Currants can be cut hard, as they fruit on new growth, you should only shorten Red and White Currants a little, as they fruit on old wood. Also Pears and Stone Fruit such as Cherries, Plums and Peaches can get Leaf Curl, or Silver Leaf, if they are pruned when they are dormant, so they are best pruned in the growing season unless the cuts are treated to prevent infection.
Hazel trees in particular should be hard pruned now thinning out the old wood by removing anything over 3 years old. Leave the younger wood, as this needs to mature for future nut production.
You can also shorten Autumn fruiting Raspberries and Buddleias to give them some resilience against the coming winter storms. However, hard pruning for both, is normally recommended to be left until the end of February.
Other fruit that may need attention are Blackberries, Logan Berries and Tay Berries. These will have developed some long “Water,” shoots that can also be removed, as plants won’t fruit on these.


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