GROW YOUR OWN
Lynda Hallinan’s 100 tips for vege gardening, grow your own hops, herbal remedies for hay fever, and make a self-watering planter.
Keep sowing and growing like mad.
November offers warm days and nights and (hopefully) your plants will still feel the benefit of spring rain, so if there’s anything you plan to grow this season that you haven’t already planted or sown, plant or sow it now! You can sow basil, carrots, cucumbers, beetroot, dwarf and climbing beans, lettuces, spinach, Asian greens, radishes, squash and pumpkins. I'd sow everything direct – with soil so warm, there's not much to be gained from starting in trays. You can plant more tomatoes, eggplants and pepper seedlings, ku¯mara (if it’s warm enough where you are) and more potatoes too.
Try some unusual zucchini varieties.
It’s (famously) easy to grow too many of this prolific cucurbit crop, so this year try growing the more unusual varieties: the yellow ’Gold Rush’, the bicolour ’Zephyr’ which has a green bottom half like it’s been dipped in paint (both Kings Seeds), or the French heirloom ‘De Rond Nice’ or the round stripy ’Piccolo’ (both Egmont Seeds). They are all just as easy to grow, but you might find it easier to give the excess away if you have a surplus than the bog standard green sort! Give zucchini rich, well-drained soil and a spot that gets full sun. Space at least a metre apart as they spread out more than you expect and the improved airflow helps reduce the impact of the fungal diseases such as powdery mildew to which they are so prone. Speaking of which, sow 3-4 zucchini now, and then another 3-4 in six weeks. That way you’ll have back-up plants coming into production when the first are struck by (inevitable) mildew.
Take early action against mildew.
While it’s true that the fungal disease powdery mildew is all but a sure thing as soon as the weather becomes warm and dry, a little prevention will go a long way to slowing its spread. Treat courgettes, pumpkins, cucumbers and melons with a DIY fungicide made with 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 2 litres of water and a squirt of dishwashing liquid. Spray this on foliage in the evening once or twice a week (and more often if it rains).
Sow sweet summer corn direct.
Like spuds, corn is split into early varieties (such as ‘Early Chief’, Yates) and main crop types (such as Kings Seeds’ ‘Florida Supersweet’) which take a little longer to produce. Sow an early sort and a main crop now to extend your harvest.
Take steps for a great tomato crop.
If you are growing indeterminate or vine tomatoes, it’s good practice to remove the laterals, or the side shoots that grow between the main stem and the fruiting branch. Letting these grow will use up the energy you want the plant to put into the fruit, and reduce airflow. If growing determinate or bush tomatoes, leave the laterals alone – determinate toms are going to produce the same number of tomatoes regardless, so you might as well save yourself the trouble! On both sorts, remove leaves that are touching the ground, as they make easy access points for pests and disease. And give plants a boost with a fertiliser designed for fruiting plants – look for one rich in potassium (such as Yates Tomato Food) – every two or three weeks.
Don’t stop sowing.