• Maureen Little

This Month in the Garden - incorporating Wine of the Month - November 2020


Welcome to November in the Garden.

Well, the clocks have changed which is a sure sign that we are heading towards the darkest time of the year. Days are shortening and plant growth is lessening. But let’s not put too much of a dampener on things - there are still jobs that we can be doing in the garden, weather permitting. A word of warning, though: don’t walk on soil if it is too wet – you will compact it and destroy the structure.


First, FLOWERS

It’s not too late to plant spring-flowering bulbs - in fact November is the best time to plant tulips.

Now is a good time to take root cuttings from some perennials. Phlox sp., Verbascum sp., Papaver orientale, and Eryngium sp. All respond well to this type of propagation. For more information click here to go to post about cuttings.

You can also divide perennials that flower earlier in the season – roughly before mid-June – that have become congested or tired in the middle. Split them into smaller chunks, retaining a good root system on each piece, and either replant them or pot them up to give away to friends or neighbours. Those that flower later in the season are generally best left until the spring.

If you have any winter-flowering plants, like violas or pansies, deadhead them regularly to keep those cheeky little flowers coming.

All manner of bare-root plants can be planted now – trees, shrubs, roses.

Talking of roses, you can start pruning your roses when they have become dormant, although I tend to leave mine until early spring, especially if they still have hips on them which are a valuable source of food for birds.


Next VEGETABLES

Now is a good time to start planning for next year. To my mind the best way to grow veg is with crop rotation – for more information click here to go to my post.

If any part of the veg plot needs digging, now is the time. Frost over winter will break down any clods into workable soil.

Keep an eye on any brassicas that you have: make sure Brussels sprouts have been planted firmly - any wind-rock can be detrimental; and remove any yellow leaves which may decay and harbour disease.

You can still plant garlic. There is a saying that you should plant garlic on the shortest day and harvest it on the longest. Garlic requires a period of cold in order for the growing bulbs to ‘break’ and form cloves.

Harvest:

kale, red and green cabbages, first Brussels sprouts, parsnips (start to lift parsnips after the first frosts have sweetened their flavour), celeriac, Jerusalem artichokes, hardy salad leaves, chard, spinach, leeks.


FRUIT now

Cut back fruiting canes such as raspberries and blackberries – the ones that have already borne fruit – and tie in the new canes ready for next year’s crop.

Start pruning apple and pear trees, or plant a new one.

Check any fruit you have in storage for signs of decay.

Last but not least, OTHER JOBS

Continue to collect up any leaves, especially from the lawn, to make leaf mould.

Containers that are not frost-proof should either be brought under cover or wrapped with fleece or hessian.

Insulate any taps or pipes before the cold weather sets in.

Have a general clean and tidy up of tools, potting shed and greenhouse if you have one.

Continue feeding the birds and clean out any nest boxes you have to provide shelters over the winter.

If you are thinking about having a bonfire please, please check that there are no hibernating hedgehogs in it. We need these lovely creatures to get rid of pests.



After all those jobs, let’s relax now with my Wine of the Month from The Wine Shed (click here to go to their website).

This month I'm featuring a 2016 Alsace Gewürztraminer. I tasted this with my colleagues on the Ribble FM Food and Drink Show (to listen again click here to go to the website) with a lamb tagine that Lee, the Station Manager had made.

At first I thought of a pairing it with a red from the south of France, or perhaps a Rioja, but then I thought how about a robust white: the recipe called for dried fruit - apricots and dates – with spices yes, but ones to give flavour rather than heat. So after chatting with Nuala, the owner of The Wine Shed, we plumped for the Gewürztraminer.

This one is from the Kientzler Winery in Ribeauville. It started off with quite pronounced green apple flavours and I thought this perhaps wasn’t the right wine for the dish. However, as the wine opened up, firmer aromas and flavours of peaches and stone fruit erupted, with just the faintest hint of elderflower and spice. And I have to say it was the ideal match for the lamb tagine – the fruitiness and hint of spice in the wine matched the fruit and spice in the tagine perfectly: one didn’t overpower the other, rather they complemented one another pretty well.

The grapes used in the wine come from an area which covers just 3.2 acres – there are other varieties growing elsewhere - so you can imagine that the overall output is quite low. Couple this with the fact that the vineyards have been in the same family for 5 generations and they take huge pride in producing the finest wines they can, and you would expect a price to reflect it. But no, this wine retails at £18.95.


So sit back and enjoy – with or without a lamb tagine!

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