November in the Spanish Garden

By Clodagh and Dick Handscombe practical gardeners, authors and broadcasters living in Spain for over twenty years.

What will the weather do?

We recently wrote an article for the Mediterranean Gardening Society Magazine about the risks of gardening in Spain some of which many newcomers to Spain don’t expect. Such as the many wet weeks experienced this September and October. Although we worked on the vegetable plot on Friday and Saturday this was only a two day window as it’s raining again this morning and an early walk had to be cancelled. A pity as it’s a good chance to swap ideas with the local Spaniards. Luckily the longer range forecast shows sunny weather within a week . By then there will be much to catch up on.

Ten essential tasks for November

Longer lists are included in each of our three books but if you do nothing else these must be done to keep the garden productive and healthy.

  • Spray fruit trees against pests that can still hatch out when the sun comes back and fungal problems. Preferable use the eco sprays described in our fruit book.
  • Tip water logged containers on their side until the soil starts to dry out to ensure that roots don’t rot.
  • Sow replacement broad beans for the ones that rotted of last month and make the traditional All Souls plantings.
  • Sow peas, sweet peas and a late sowing of carrots and plant out more onions, leeks, lettuces, broccoli, and beetroots. Yes beetroots do well as plantlets especially as the seeds would have rotted off last month.
  • Trim back plants that have been bashed down by the rain but leave the main cutback until the new year to ensure Christmas colour.
  • Dig up Jerusalem artichokes for storage . Also the remains of your summer grown crops as they can rot in the sodden soil .
  • Prepare areas for planting more onions and garlic later in the month or early December.
  • Check the stored butternut squash and potatoes.
  • Buy a spawn impregnated sack or box to grow healthy oyster or shitake mushrooms. The first crops will be ready for Christmas.
  • Get the sprouter out and grow healthy sprouting seeds in the kitchen without having to get wet or muddy.

When we attended the biennial Slow Food Terra Madre conference in Turin last week along with 8000 other people interested in the growing and eating of good food there was much interest in our books Growing Healthy Vegetables in Spain and Growing Healthy Fruit in Spain by participants from many of the 150 countries represented not only for personal gardens but also for school garden teams and food communities in the developing countries struggling to combat the impacts of GM driven industrial agriculture. Amazingly many had not heard of such basic good practices as feeding the soil and not the plants and mulching. But at least the use of Neem as an insecticide and soil improver was pretty universal.

With Christmas here next month Your Garden in Spain, Growing Healthy Vegetables in Spain and Growing Healthy Fruit in Spain will be practical presents of lasting value. Available via a click on ‘Our books’, bookshops and Amazon.

© Clodagh and Dick Handscombe November 2008.