November is always a tricky month in the garden, the weather is usually hot, and if we don't get storms, the garden can really start to dry out. My main strategy is to get veges started as early as possible in September, before it gets so hot, and then just try to keep them going through November. As soon as it rains they will grow really quickly, but in the meantime, I just try to keep them alive, so they are ready to grow when the rain comes. In the harvest basket this month I have the last of the broad beans (its getting to warm for them), the shallots I planted in autumn, celery, kale, the first of the beans, lots of kale and mint for tea.
November Harvest Basket
My other stragety is mulch, lots and lots of mulch. Last year I complained that the soil under the mulch didn't seem to get wet, but this year I realised that I need to improved the soil under the mulch. I spread out several wheelbarrow loads of manure (thanks to Donald the bull) and as much compost on top of the soil, followed by several loads of mulch hay. This seems to have worked better, as the manure and compost holds more water.
As a last resort, I give some plants extra water by filling beer bottles with water and upturning them next to the plant. This drip-feeds a little water to plants that are struggling, and seems to really make a difference. Some people suggested that I use soft-drink bottles, but we buy any, so its hard to get hold of them :) I have a collection of beer bottles that I reuse for this purpose. I also have to keep an eye on my potted herbs, they can dry out very easily, and the best way to rehydrate them is to sit the pot in a dish of water for 24 hours under the soil is soaked again.
garden party :)
This November we have actually been lucky, and in he last couple of weeks in particular we got some storms. In the first storm the shade cloth blew off the garden and we decided to leave it off for a week to see what would happen. I know some people don't use shade cloth, so I wondered if the garden would do better without it. We soon saw the effect, as the plants began to dry out, bolt to seed, and generally get very dark green and bitter. The next week, we installed the shade cloth again! And there was an immediate improvement. A couple of weeks later we had a hail storm, the hail stones were the size of marbles and sounded like they were being pelted at the house. The shade cloth protected most of the garden, and the melting hail provided a little water.
hail in the garden after the sun came back out
Its also been interesting to see what plants grow well in the hot dry weather. The chilli plant seems to be doing very well, not producing any chillis, but very green and healthy! Pity we don't eat many chillis anyway. The geranium is also very hardy, and is the only plant that survives on the hugelkulture with no watering at all.
And of course you need a raspberry update, it has flowers! They are very delicate, can't wait to eat the fruit!
Raspberry flowers, can't wait for the fruit!
And here are some more shots of the garden, you can see its struggling, but ready and waiting for rain.
My jobs for December are to just keep watering, waiting for decent rain and harvesting the vegetables. I have plenty planted, so the garden should provide plenty to harvest as soon as it rains enough. If all goes to plan, I shouldn't need to really do anything in the garden, except harvest, weed and tidy, until its time to start winter veges in March.
How is your garden going? What are your jobs for December?