|No time to rest! There is just enough daylight to clear and tidy up the allotment removing any old crops in preparation for next year. Don’t leave the remains of summer crops to rot. They will harbour over wintering pests and diseases. Wait for a clear, crisp, sunny day and go for it. You’ll feel shattered but a lot better at the end of the exercise.
Start to harvest winter cabbage, brussel sprouts, leeks and parsnips. Leave parsnips till after the first frost because the chilling effect turns the starches into sugars and gives them their natural sweetness. Pick brussel sprouts working from the bottom of the stalk upwards to give all of the sprouts get a chance to swell. At the same time snap off yellowing leaves at the base to ensure that there is good air circulation around the plants.
Sowing and planting
If you have a greenhouse or coldframe you can sow a crop of a hardy round seeded pea such as Feltham First in 3in/7cm pots. If the weather conditions are really favourable they can even be sown in open ground but remember they will rot off in wet ground. They should be transplanted when the roots have reached the bottom of the pot. Transplant any pot raised broad beans sown earlier to somewhere sheltered and protected from cold, icy blasts. It is not too late to take a chance on an outdoor sowing of broad beans if it is done early in the month. Transplant October sown lettuces to grow on under cloches or frames. Space them 6 in/15 cm square.
Although these winter varieties are tough enough to withstand most normal weather it is always best to have some protection on hand – coldframe, cloches, fleece – ready to protect them if need be. Always remember wet growing conditions can do as much damage as cold ones.
Now is a good time to plant new fruit trees and bushes. This is the time to prune soft fruit bushesand they can also be moved as needed.
Dig, dig, dig. This is the priority job of the month. The more that you can get done before the end of the year the better.
Most of the leaves will have fallen by now. Collect them up and make a leaf mould stack.