November update from my no dig garden

November has been a month of contrasts so far: sparkling frosts, glorious sunrises and rather a lot of rain. It has been pouring down here all day.
This is Homeacres a few days ago at 7:20 am, what a treat to observe this sky!

I love frosty mornings, it’s such a treat to head off with my camera, capturing some of the magic before it melts. You can see how well insulated the hot bin is by the frost on the surface – inside it was over 60˚F

Almost everything has been planted and sown now, just the last of the garlic and broadbeans to go, and some flower bulbs (which I have put somewhere safe and can’t find!!)

Earlier sown garlic is emerging – it is hardy and doesn’t mind being frosted.

Underneath the netting protecting brassicas in the back garden, I have intercropped the brassicas with shallots – Longor and Eschalote Grise (both from The Garlic Farm) –  and various module grown salad plants. These brassicas were a late sowing, so will be smaller and less productive than the earlier sown allotment veg – an experiment!

The brassicas will gradually be harvested during late winter and early spring, leaving the shallots to grow on before their harvest in July. I’ve planted them in rows over 30 cm apart so that I can pop in other veg after the brassicas next spring – haven’t decided what yet. The netting protecting the brassicas from birds will also protect the shallots from inquisitive beaks pulling them out.

about to clear summer crops from the polytunnel

In the polytunnel, I’ve finished planting and sowing everything for this year. I still need to bring in all of the lemon verbena pots and other plants that over winter better under cover. I’ve already harvested the last of the fragrant leaves and dried them in a basket beside the woodburner. Lemon verbena obligingly dries very easily. The leaves are stored in jars for winter teas and flavouring food too. The scent is incredible – pure lemon sherbert.

dried lemon verbena

Two of the lemon verbenas come into the house for the winter, for early fresh leaves. Inside the polytunnel, I have fleece and bubblewrap in readiness for periods of very cold weather, which even inside a polytunnel can kill lemon verbena. The bubblewrap is all repurposed from packaging that has unexpectedly arrived in my house in deliveries. Rather than adding it to landfill, I use its insulating properties in the garden.

This is the polytunnel today – hose and sprinkler still in place from watering on Wednesday. Watering now will be less frequent, every two weeks or so, depending on the weather. It’s surprising how warm the polytunnel can get. On one day last week the thermometer registered -1˚C at night, but 25˚C when the sun came out mid-afternoon. Quite a contrast, and good for the growth of my plants.

The polytunnel is full now – the areas that looks bare (apart from the paths) have seeds sown in there: radish, chervil root, peas, broadbeans and different kinds of garlic. I had hoped to add a list of what is in there to this blog, but it is pouring down and I don’t fancy swimming across my garden – so next time 🙂

Grow little plants, grow!

I hoe the path regularly to keep down weeds germinating from seeds brought in on my boots, and have been using a hand hoe on some self sown herbs which I don’t want competing with my winter veggies. This is a Nunki hoe from Implementations, the shape is useful for getting between plants (my Dad bought me it for Christmas 10 years ago).

Before finishing planting I harvested the last of the tomatoes, aubergines, chillies, cucumbers and peppers, and also the sweet potatoes. Not the largest crop but not bad for a plant that prefers a warmer, longer season. I dug up a row of lemongrass to pot on for the winter, it will come indoors, and outside I harvested quince, medlars and crab apples.

Before composting the tomato plants, I selected some side shoots from the Rosada, which is an F1 hybrid, which all being well will over winter on the windowsill as little plants. You can’t save the seeds of F1 hybrids, and this particular variety is no longer available, so Charles and I save side shoot plants which do grow just like the parent plant.

I’ve been saving seed from some of the open pollinated tomatoes too – these are currently fermenting in my son Ruairi’s room (he is at university, don’t tell him!!

My allotment on a cold, frosty morning. The large sheet of polythene is a temporary measure to keep weeds at bay in readiness for remaking my ancient compost heaps. A lovely winter job.

Next week, I am looking forward to making and planting out a new planter that arrived today, hopefully finding the flower bulbs and planting those, and starting on some of the DIY garden jobs. I’ve finished all of my evening talks now until next February, making more time for writing my new book (which is still called New Book).

I’ve updated my shop with the last postage dates for international and national parcels. There are two discounted double packs for sale there, signed and dedicated as you wish. I think they make lovely gifts.

Thought I’d finish my blog today with some photos taken recently in a tiny Dorset village, Briantspuddle, on a solo writing retreat focusing on my new book. The village was beautiful. I had a fantastic time writing and walking.

Have a happy time in your garden. What are your wintry plans?




14 thoughts on “November update from my no dig garden”

  1. Wonderful Steph, thank you for the update and wonderful photographs, what a beautiful place for some self-care at the start of winter

  2. Top marks for your creative gardening writing and photography always interesting to read about your involvement in all three Many thanks for all the effort you put in

  3. I enjoyed seeing your photos from the retreat on Instagram, am not on there so couldn’t comment. It looked like a lovey place. My plans for the coming months are birdwatching! So many interesting things to see with all the winter guests.

    1. Stephanie Hafferty

      That sounds wonderful. It’s something I would like to try more of one day. Until then I have the birds in my garden 🙂

  4. Your blog just came up on my Google feed. It’s nuts how it knows exactly what I want to read. I just started my first allotment this year and I’m doing it no dig. So this is a great find for me. Nice work

    1. Stephanie Hafferty

      Thank you – that’s really nice to know and I had no idea my blog appeared on Google feeds! So that is good to know too

  5. Thank you Steph. Learned a lot from that (Munki hoe, saving / drying lemon verbena and saving side shoots of F1 varieties!).

    When you hoe the little weeds from the paths do you remove them or just leave them to wither down and how often do you find you need to go over the paths?

    1. Stephanie Hafferty

      It depends how big they are and if I am watering soon. If they are quite big, or I’ll be watering, then they get popped into the compost bucket just in case

  6. Hi Stephanie I enjoy your blog my outdoor undercover bed has really suffered this year & it seems such a long wait for things to grow so trying to wait patiently ..last year I could hardly keep up with all the salads & kales Undercovers & indoors not so this year .it’s nice to see how yours is getting on lovey photos too thanks

    1. Stephanie Hafferty

      It is a strange autumn, feels much darker than usual. Perhaps it will stop raining one day….!

      Thank you for your nice comments and for us all, there is always next year – thank fully 🙂

  7. My favourite tomatoes are Rosada and don’t know if I am just lucky but so far my saved seed has come true! Sturdy 7 ft plants with 8 trusses. But will try the overwintering shoot, cannot believe they won’t grow lanky though, but worth a try as well as my seeds

    1. Stephanie Hafferty

      That is certainly unusual for an F1 hybrid! They grow for sure, but it’s rare for the fruit to be the same as the parent plant.

      If you keep them small, they don’t grow lanky over winter

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