Kitchen Garden Guides

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

November Kitchen Garden Guide

Everyone is out in the garden, planting and sowing; dreaming of all the summer meals ahead, picked straight from the garden. My tip is to keep your tomatoes in pots until after the Huon Show (November 18th) if you live in a frosty area. I remember the year that many people woke to find a hard frost had burnt their entire tomato patch overnight in mid-November! I find that potting tomatoes up into slightly bigger pots works really well as advanced plants suffer little when planted out, unlike the little ones planted out early.


Just looking out the window is enough to give me high blood pressure this time of the year as I can see the grass growing while I have coffee! There is grass that needs mowing, grass that needs slashing and grass that needs pulling; pretty much grass everywhere and mostly where I do not want it. Grrrrr….

1. When I first came here, from dry old Adelaide, I loved cool, grassy paths wandering serenely through flower and vegetables beds but now I am over it because grass does not keep to the paths at all and can leap tall buildings with a single bound! By covering some of the paths with wet newspaper or cardboard then sawdust or fine bark mulch, headway is being made at last. When it all breaks down I scoop it up and toss it on the beds then remake the paths.

2. I try not to let grass grow within the drip line of fruit trees. As the trees grow, so the dripline expands and more grass is mulched over. Amongst the mulch I plant all manner of flowers and herbs and native groundcovers too. This is fabulous for fire zones as it keeps dry mulch to a minimum, using plants as living mulch. At the same time it benefits soil microbes, little native birds and beneficial insects as well as looking pretty.

3. I like a patch of lawn as a space to sit and chat, have a BBQ or read but I don’t need space for a backyard cricket match so I keep the lawn just big enough to put up my marquee…. after all, this is Tasmania and it does rain, without notice! Beyond that small lawn it is ideal to have dense plantings that shade out any errant grass and keep maintenance to a minimum. My father used a small, sharp spade to cut a narrow trench around the edge of the lawn. Any piece of grass that grew into that trench was removed pronto.

Codling moth

The adult female codling moth lays approximately 60 whitish grey eggs that are about the size of a pinhead, on the surface of the leaves of apples, pears and quinces when the average temperature is over 15 degrees in spring and early summer. To reduce their numbers you must act now.

Codling moth eggs hatch after 10 days and the small caterpillars emerge to feed on the leaf surface and make their way to the fruit. They burrow into the fruit and head for the core. They will spend about three to five weeks inside the fruit feeding and putting on body mass until they are ready to emerge. This is the stage that we see, when fruit displays the tell-tale hole which leads to brown insides or early rotting when stored.

My mother’s remedy works well but annually leads to her becoming embarrassed at her frequent visits to the local bottle shop every spring! She has a stash of tins, such as from tinned tomatoes, through which she has drilled holes and ties string so that the tins can hang in a tree. Into each tin she puts a dash of port and a double dash of water. She hangs 2 or 3 tins in every apple, pear and quince tree. The male coddling moths are attracted to the port and drown in it, reducing the number of fertile eggs laid by the females. My mother tops up the liquids regularly.

There is more information and several non-alcoholic controls outlined on the Global Net Academy website.

November is beans time.

Add a handful of potash and a good spadeful of compost per square metre and fork them in. Sow beans into damp soil and water only once until the first leaves appear. It is a good idea to soak the beans overnight before sowing, to hasten germination.

Climbing beans: If you are lucky enough to grow your own hazelnuts / dogwood / bamboo / suitable willow then you can easily (and for free) make use of them to erect a frame. (Search Google images for ‘bean poles’ and see how creative you can be). But beware!! We live in the roaring 40’s!! Pole beans WILL blow over unless the structure is secure. I tie one end of my frame to a sturdy fence post. I especially love flat beans and have found some seeds, at last.

Bush beans: These produce bucket loads of fabulous beans all summer without the need for a frame but therefore take up much more room. I love the thin, stringless, French beans as well as borlotti beans. It helps to mulch with dry straw once we get into summer and there is less rain.

Bush beans are great for Tasmania as they produce faster than pole beans. There are hundreds of varieties to choose from and saving seed for next year is simply a matter of letting some of the pods mature fully and dry off before picking.

Jobs for November

Sow indoors or transplant and protect:
Cucumbers (Lebanese), zucchinis (Romanesco), corn, pumpkins.
Sow or plant in the garden:
Salad leaves (not just lettuce!), brassicas (cover with moth netting), most herbs, salad and spring onions, beetroot, fennel, carrots, celery, parsnip, sunflowers and more!
  • Plant out frost tender seedlings after Huon Show Day.
  • Check your hose fittings, watering cans and irrigation equipment.
  • Share excess seedlings with friends.
  • Most of all, enjoy the garden and the splashes of sunshine!

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