Are there really that many vegetables to plant in November, you may be asking? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’. The truth is there are several important crops that benefit from the cooler conditions outside – while several others are happy being started indoors for quick cropping or a vital head start on their new year growth. From hardy broad beans to the gastro lover’s oyster plant, you’ll find plenty of inspiration here as the colder days and darker nights draw in.
Play to the strengths of the season, and you’ll be amazed at how much life you can still squeeze out of your gardening spaces. You may be missing the hustle and bustle (and the sunshine) that comes with summer growing. But in the winter months, there’s plenty more veg to try out as part of your kitchen garden ideas this month – so what are you waiting for? Find out how you can make this cold season the backdrop to your coolest crops ever…
Boost your plot with the top vegetables to plant in November
Whether you’re looking to grow fleshy fungi, fancy spears or plants that taste of shellfish, our essential list of vegetables to plant in November is sure to inspire you.
Unless you’re an allium-phobe (that’s someone who’s afraid of garlic, fact fans), there’s a strong chance garlic will be one of your key vegetables to plant in November.
Gardeners have been known to make these pungent plantings in spring, but we urge you to get a head start now. As Amateur Gardening's fruit and veg expert Lucy Chamberlain points out, cloves need a sufficient chilling period to split and create heads – planting this month ensures this.
Autumn planting also means you have a better run at healthier, bigger and more flavorful yields. ‘The extra growing time encourages a more extensive root system to form, which in turn gives more foliage to fuel large heads,’ says Lucy. The key thing to remember when learning how to grow garlic is this: don’t use supermarket cloves. Order from a garden centre or seed supplier to be sure yours are disease-free.
Choose from hardneck or softneck types, and stick to hardier varieties planted in well-draining soil. Lucy recommends ‘Extra Early Wight’, ‘Picardy Wight’ and ‘Germidour’ for autumn plantings. Garlic started now will mature earlier than spring counterparts – you can lift the individual heads in late May/early June.
Don't forget to add the best companion plants for garlic to your plot to ensure your autumn bulbs are the best they can be too.
Homegrown horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) is a great addition to your must-grow vegetables to plant in November. As Lucy Chamberlain points out, now is the ideal time to plant it. It’s low-maintenance and one of the easiest vegetables to grow. If you find a sunny site in well-drained soil, its needs are few.
Sold as bare roots (called thongs) or potted plants, horseradish is a rugged, cold-hardy perennial. It makes the most of this quiet time on the plot in order to get settled. It’s a natural pest and disease repellant and makes an excellent companion plant for potatoes. Whether you prefer the common type, with its big, crinkly leaves, or Bohemian, which is narrower and smoother, you can be sure of a crop a year after planting.
Top tip: Sink your horseradish plant in the ground contained within a large pot, says Lucy. The spreading roots penetrate deeply and can be stubbornly persistent, and a pot will keep its invasive nature in check.
3. Broad beans
For anyone who can’t wait until spring to start off those next eagerly anticipated bundles of broad beans, the good news is you don’t have to!
This bean is one of the key vegetables to plant in November, and you are actively encouraged to sow key varieties now so they develop healthier root systems, which in turn means more bountiful bean harvests. This month is the sweet spot for sowing winter-hardy beans: seedlings will be stronger, but compact enough to be sheltered from weather extremes.
As Chris Bonnett of Gardening Express points out: ‘Broad beans are a particularly strong sowing option for November if you live in a milder region, especially if you have well-drained soil.’ Pick your variety wisely, though, as not all are suitable for autumn sowings. As a general rule, longpod varieties are the hardiest for overwintering.
If you're learning how to grow broad beans, the classic broad bean variety to sow now is hardy ‘Aquadulce Claudia’: a reliable longpod that produces impressive yields from tall plants. Other excellent varieties include vigorous ‘Luz de Otono’, early-maturing ‘De Monica’ and ‘The Sutton’, perfect for containers and on exposed sites.
4. Purple basil
You're no doubt familiar with the more traditional basils and delighted in their bright, fresh green colors and cupped leaves. But if you’re looking for new vegetables to plant in November and you fancy finding out how to grow basil, why not broaden your horizons with some mauve colored marvels instead?
Our top recommendation for newbies is ‘Dark Opal’, an intensely aromatic and glossy purple-black beauty, loaded with vitamins. It also produces pretty pink flowers in summer (pinch these back while you are growing the leaves for culinary purposes.) This is a proper charmer for autumnal cultivation given its ornamental appeal – it really gives your kitchen garden a rush of color and piquancy as the longer nights draw in.
Sow indoors and keep as warm as you can. In summer, it will enjoy life outside in raised garden beds or a large container with spinach or tomatoes. Put near outdoor seating to deter mosquitoes. ‘Dark Opal’ leaves have an antibacterial agent that helps to treat stinging insect bites. If you’d like to explore other purple pleasures, try the frilly ‘Purple Ruffles’, sweet ‘Red Rubin’ or container-friendly ‘Bambino Purple’.
5. Oyster plant
Also known as ‘sea mertensia’ or ‘sea bluebells’, this addition to our best vegetables to grow in November has long been found growing wild in coastal spots around the UK. However, it is now gaining ground as a gourmet accompaniment to fish dishes and is heavenly eaten raw or cooked.
With its delightfully salty, earthy tasting and fleshy blue-green leaves, the oyster plant (Mertensia maritima) is often called the ‘vegetarian’s oyster’. It is ideally suited to sandy, well-drained soils in partial sunshine. Sow into gritty compost in small pots and grow in a cold frame through winter. When they are large enough to handle, pot up into 6in (15cm) pots. Oyster plants don’t like being moved much, so bear this in mind and take care when transplanting in spring.
Harvest your vegetarian oyster in the morning, when the leaves are at their most fragrant. Make sure you don’t harvest more than half the leaves as the plant needs a certain number to keep growing.
6. Pea shoots
Light, fresh and loaded with nutrients, pea shoots are an absolute must if you’re looking for ideas for what to plant this month. They are some of the quickest to get out of the blocks as well – these fragrant, curly shoots are ready in weeks.
Gardening enthusiasts looking to grow quick crops sow the seeds in a gutter pipe with great success – you don’t even need a garden as you can pick your harvests straight from the pipe! You can also grow pea shoots in a greenhouse or a cold frame.
For instant pea shoot pickings, top varieties to try for fall planting include compact ‘Meteor’ and prolific ‘Feltham First’, both with excellent winter hardiness. ‘Twinkle’ is another great choice and has excellent downy mildew tolerance. And for those after a quick and crispy vitamin boost, ‘Anubis’ (from Suttons) produces shoots in three weeks, and you can enjoy a second picking a few weeks later.
For an extra-cool seasonal salad combo, our guide on how to grow mint will show you how to give your winter salad dishes all the fresh flavor you could possibly want.
7. Hardy onions
Perfectly suited to the shorter days of late autumn and winter, hardy onions are some of the most rewarding vegetables to plant in November. They need less light than other onions, they can grow uncovered in the colder months, and they are a great space-filler for beds cleared of crops just a few weeks earlier.
Planted as sets now, these overwintering onions produce greater yields than spring plantings. Planted now, they develop steadily in the cold weeks ahead, before bulking up to produce bigger bulbs that can be harvested in July or August.
If you're keen to learn how to grow onions during the colder months, it’s important to choose varieties specified as ‘overwintering’, because they have been bred to be hardy and they are less likely to bolt. Choose brown-skinned ‘Radar’ and ‘Troy’ for bolt resistance and for resilience in harsh winter weather. ‘Snowball’ is a mild white-skinned onion. Red ‘Electric’ is a vibrant salad favorite which keeps for four weeks from harvest. ‘Toughball’ is resistant to botrytis and downy mildew. Finally, ‘Senshyu Yellow’ is a popular heavy-yielding Japanese globe; even when the mercury drops to -0.4˚F (-18°C) it will survive without losing any potency.
They say all good things come to those who wait, and they don’t come much better than the mighty asparagus. There’s something rather special about knowing how to grow asparagus, making this delicacy a heavyweight in our rundown.
This point in the calendar is best for planting one-year-old dormant crowns in light, well-drained soils. You may have to wait two years for those tender spears, but it's worth it!
Selecting a variety is tricky, as there are lots of mouth-watering options. ‘Gijnlim’ is a pretty AGM cropper with bright green spears and deep purple tips, while ‘Pacific Purple’ is a vibrant, tender beauty that’s loaded with antioxidants. ‘Guelph Millennium’ is reliable in most soils and highly cold-tolerant. Heavy cropper ‘Jersey Knight’ is resistant to crown rot, rust and fusarium wilt, and ‘Mondeo’ is an all-male hybrid with excellent disease resistance.
Harvesting lasts for four weeks the first time, but in subsequent years the harvest window goes up to eight weeks, guaranteeing a feast fit for the homegrowing king. Once the harvest window closes, treat the ground to a mulching and let plants rest until these succulent beauties rise again.
9. Beef and onion plant
It’s not often we get to sing the praises of a plant with leaves that taste of beef and onion crisps – but here it is! The Chinese Toon Tree (Toona sinensis) is a type of mahogany tree and sounds like the sort of thing that might take decades to cultivate. However, this plant can be grown as a baby leaf veg, so you can enjoy its singular flavors surprisingly quickly.
The beef and onion plant develops soft, savory leaves that work well in salads so if you’re growing lettuce this is the perfect accompaniment. If you’re after exciting new additions to try on your best BBQ, this beefy charmer also works well in chargrilled dishes as well as a garnish for meats. It can be parboiled or stir-fried and is a popular crop in southeast Asian dishes.
Seed mixes such as those of The James Wong Collection from Suttons are a fun way to experiment. Plants can be grown on if given winter protection for the first two years. New growth can be harvested each spring. And who knows, give it enough time and you might wind up with a beautiful ornamental tree?
Mushrooms are a natural choice for the damper, darker nights of the season. And you can enjoy a feast of fungi safely and easily, whether you want homegrown chestnuts, buttons, oysters or shiitakes on your chopping board.
Home-growing kits have made it possible to produce your own fleshy treats on compost, logs, straw, coffee grounds and even paperback books (one you’re not bothered about hanging on to, that is!). If you’d like to take the plunge and learn how to grow mushrooms, it’s worth playing with different growing methods. Inoculated kits can yield at four weeks, while logs may take a few months to bear a harvest.
Oyster mushrooms grown on paper and straw are a great entry-level option. Soak the inoculated material in water, bag it up, then wait for the white threads called mycelia to grow. Remove the bag, mist to keep it moist, and your mushroom bounty will quickly balloon into life!
What else can I do on the veg plot in November?
- Overwinter chilli plants such as ‘Naga Viper’, ‘Trinidad Scorpion’ and ‘Rocoto’. Keep in a warm, frost-free spot like a heated glasshouse or conservatory. Those who followed our guide on how to grow chillies will know super-hot varieties take a while to ripen. Harvest final fruits and cut fruited stems back by half. ‘Don’t let the compost get overly wet as it will encourage root rotting,’ says Lucy.
- Although heat-loving fig trees are hardy, they need help now to ensure good harvests next year. Hopefully you are growing them as a fan against a sunny wall or in a pot, as our guide on how to grow figs explains. The south- or west-facing wall minimises exposure to chills and deep shade, while trees in pots can be placed somewhere frost-free for winter, which gives earlier and often prolonged harvests.
- Lift and divide rhubarb during dormancy to ensure you keep plants at their best. Healthy clumps yield for years, so if you are growing rhubarb check for congestion (look out for thin stems or flower spikes). Discard rotten roots and congested central parts of the clump, retaining the outer sections. Slice the clumps into divisions. Replant at the same depth as before in a new site, improved with plenty of organic matter.
- It’s never too soon to think ahead to next year’s climbing crops. One of the best ways to get prepared is to stock up on tall, whippy stems that can be used as supports for peas and beans, as well as for building frames for brassicas. If you are after climbing plant support ideas then hazel and birch can work a treat. Cut as many bare, uniform lengths as you can and store them now to keep them at their best.
- Give your grapevines some loving attention, says Lucy Chamberlain. Grab your best secateurs and jump in now to keep vigorous growth in shape. Pruning after Christmas runs the risk of wounds oozing sap, so don’t delay. ‘Freeform vines allowed to scramble at will can simply have their bulk removed. Indoor vines trained as rods and spurs need the spurs to be cut back to 1in (2.5cm) stubs. Avoid pruning into very old wood,’ says Lucy.
- Now’s the time to protect potted bay trees for winter. This is especially important if they have been trained as standards (with a ‘lollipop’ shape) as exposed stems can be damaged by frost. Move to a sheltered spot or lag the stems in bubble plastic. Raise the base with pot feet so water drains away, preventing frost cracking the pot. Looking to care for other crops in containers? Our guide to growing fruit in pots can help.
Hopefully, this list has given you plenty to start off in your kitchen garden in November. Keep making the most of fresh opportunities despite the cold, and enjoy a rich harvest of treats in the next few months – or even weeks!
As assistant editor of Amateur Gardening magazine, Janey's gardening passion was fostered from an early age, when her amazing mum had her deadheading hydrangeas, mulching roses, and propagating strawberry plants from runners for school open days. Her gardening childhood was like living with Tom and Barbara from The Good Life, with figs growing in the greenhouse, homemade blueberry jams piled high, and demijohns filled with her dad’s elderflower sherry experiments. City living has generally meant doing without a conventional outdoor space, but she is slowly transforming her thimble-sized abode into a haven of vertical vegetation. She's also taken part in lots of conservation and rewilding projects for the RHS and TCV as a way of exploring her horticultural horizons whilst helping to create and maintain beautiful spaces for others. When she grows up, she would like a Victorian conservatory, some proper old-fashioned cold frames and bell cloches, and a better system for storing all her seed packets.
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