Here are four fab tips for your garden for early November. It’s all about radishes, celery, new season potatoes, chilli plants and healthy rocket salad leaves this time of year.
1. Mound up your potatoes. Those of you who already have potatoes in the ground or in tyres will need to keep mounding them up with extra soil, pea straw or potting mix. Why? Because you’ll get a bigger crop as it encourages the stems to grow taller, so they can form more tubers. Extra soil also helps support the plants, protecting them from wind damage, and it stops any tubers near the surface of the soil from turning green. Green potatoes have high levels of glycoalkaloid (a natural toxin) in them and should not be eaten.
2. Plant celery. Pick up a punnet of celery plants on your next garden centre visit or have a go at raising your own Growing celery from seed may take almost a month to germinate, but it will be delicious. This year, I plan on doing it the easy way simply because want to eat the stalks as soon as possible. Celery can be picked just like silverbeet by picking off the outside stalks as you need them; leave the rest of the plant to keep growing. If you’re growing celery in pots, make sure they’re watered twice a day on a hot day. This is because the roots are quite shallow and need extra care to keep them from drying out. A thirsty celery plant is a sad sight indeed.
3. Plant peppers and chillies. It’s too late to sow these from seed (they take a couple of months to get big enough to transplant) but garden centres have a good selection of individual potted seedlings available now. If you want to grow red chillies, one plant is usually enough. Last year I grew a ‘Wildfire’ chilli in a pot and it had hundreds of chillies. Generally, the smaller the chilli, the hotter it is. Don’t believe me? Try eating a miniature Thai chilli… they’re barely bigger than your fingernail but your mouth will feel like someone’s lit a bonfire inside it. Chillies are much easier to grow than capsicums, or bell peppers. Capsicums need a long, hot summer to ripen from green to red and they also need plenty of water. (For this reason, in cooler climates it’s better to grow them in large containers so you can move them indoors to continue ripening if they’re not ready by the end of summer.) Once the fruit start to form, keep them well watered and fed with liquid fertiliser to fatten up your peppers.
4. Sow rocket and radishes for salads. Rocket and radishes are all you need to pep up a plain lettuce salad. Both grow rapidly too. Sow them this weekend and you’ll have baby rocket leaves and peppery red radishes within two weeks. Rocket and radishes will both bolt to seed if they get too hot or dry, so it’s a good idea to sow them in a part of your vege patch that gets a little afternoon shade as we head into summer.