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Nature blog - Jenny Bourne

Introducing
The RPA Nature blog with Jenny Bourne.

Watch the seasons unfold right here at our very own allotments

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Brussels sprouts

Sprouts should be plentiful this month. Either harvest them one by one, working up the stem from the bottom to the top, or uproot the entire plant. They’ll keep for a few days if you stand the stalk in a bucket of water.

Carrots

Theoretically, carrots can be left until the end of the year, but if the ground is in danger of freezing hard, or if they are starting to look a little worse for wear, lift them now and store any that are in good condition.

Cauliflowers

If frosts are severe, protect curds of winter cauliflowers by wrapping a few of the outer leaves around them.

By December, the first of the winter and spring cauliflower varieties should be ready for cutting.

By December, the first of the winter and spring cauliflower varieties should be ready for cutting.

Celeriac

Harvest the roots now or, if you don’t need them yet, leave them in the ground. Pull off any dead or dying leaves, and if temperatures are very low protect them with some straw or bracken.

Celery

A late crop of trench-grown celery can be harvested now – provided the plants have been protected against frost.

Endive

One of the hardiest of all the salad plants, endive withstands most winters if you cover it with frames or cloches to protect from the worst of the weather.

Jerusalem artichokes

Dig up the last of your Jerusalem artichokes this month. Unless you want another crop next year, make sure you search out and remove all the tubers.

Kale

Although you may have been growing kale earlier in the year for baby salad leaves, it really comes into its own during the winter months. ‘Black Tuscan’, sometimes known as ‘Cavolo Nero’, is tough enough to survive almost anything.

Kohl rabi

Harvest the last of your kohl rabi by the end of the year. While it’s true that plants can survive moderate frosts, especially if protected with fleece or cloches, their flavour does not improve with age.

Leeks

Harvest leeks just before you need them, as they don’t store well once lifted. Cut off the roots and wash the stems carefully to remove any soil trapped between the leaves.

Leeks are pretty tough, and should survive both hard winter frosts and a few thick coverings of snow.

Leeks are pretty tough, and should survive both hard winter frosts and a few thick coverings of snow.

Parsnips

Lift parsnips when you need them. Either leave the remainder in the ground or harvest them all and store them for later in the winter, laying them out in shallow boxes and covering them with moist sand.

Salad leaves

Just a few hardy salad plants can still be persuaded to provide fresh leaves, if they are protected beneath fleece or under cloches: they include corn salad, rocket, land cress, and winter purslane.

Salad rocket (shown here) will need protection if it’s to keep cropping until the end of the year. Wild rocket – which has thinner, tougher leaves - is more hardy.

Salad rocket (shown here) will need protection if it’s to keep cropping until the end of the year. Wild rocket – which has thinner, tougher leaves - is more hardy.

Savoy cabbages

Winter-season ‘Savoy’ cabbages have distinctive, crinkly leaves and are hardy enough to survive the coldest weather.

Swedes

Although swedes may be left in the ground until the end of this month, beyond that they tend to become woody. It’s better to lift them all now and, if necessary, store them.

Turnips

Lift any remaining turnips by the end of the month otherwise they will grow too large and turn woody. Store them indoors in sand-filled boxes or outdoors in “clamps”.

Winter radishes

Oriental and other winter radishes are much larger than the small summer radishes grown for salads. They are also hardier, and can be left in the ground during all but the most severe winters.

Vegetables

Brussels sprouts

Cabbages

Carrots

Cauliflowers

Celeriac

Jerusalem artichokes

Kale

Kohl rabi

Leeks

Parsnips

Swede

Turnips

Winter radishes

 

Salads

Celery

Endive

Salad leaves

 

 

 

Text and photographs copyright © 2010 Alan Buckingham.

 

Allotment month by month by Alan Buckingham, front cover thumbnail Allotment Month by Month
(Dorling Kindersley, 2009)
Grow Vegetables by Alan Buckingham, front cover thumbnail Grow Vegetables
(Dorling Kindersley, 2007)
Grow Fruit by Alan Buckingham, front cover thumbnail Grow Fruit
(Dorling Kindersley, 2010)