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What to plant in November in Ballarat

November is traditionally the time to plant tomatoes in Ballarat – Melbourne Cup Day, specifically, but with weather like this year’s, nobody will blame you if you’re a bit late.

This is the month that we move on from spring’s greens (lettuce, spinach, and the like) to the true summer veg.  Most of the veg we’re planting now are things that will form fruit in the new year.

Tomatoes, capsicums, chillis, and eggplants are all members of the nightshade family, along with less well known members such as tomatillos and ground cherries (physalis).  While you can plant them all out now, eggplants, capsicums and chillis really like a bit more warmth, so you might want to wait until it’s consistently over 20 degrees each day.  Or grow them in a greenhouse – capsicums and chillis in particular will love the tropical climate this provides.

baby kent pumpkin

A baby Kent pumpkin on the vine.

Zucchinis, pumpkins, squash, melons and cucumbers are all part of the curcurbit family and all have similar growing patterns.  You can plant them directly in your garden now: put three seeds in a mound of compost, then thin back to the strongest when they’ve got a few true leaves on them.  If you’re planting out seedlings, be sure not to disturb the roots, as this will stunt their growth.  Ideally, grow your own seedlings in individual pots, rather than buying those rectangular punnets with several plants in them.

If you’re short on space, try growing cucumbers or pumpkins up a trellis or other structure.  Old bedframes, gates, and ladders are useful for this purpose.

Corn and beans are some other good things to plant right now.  If you’re growing corn, plant a good sized patch of it, as it needs neighbours to cross-pollinate with.  You can grow beans up the corn stalks: wait until the corn is about 30cm high, then plant beans around their base.  The corn will support the beans, and the beans will provide nitrogen to naturally fertilise the corn.  These are two parts of the famous “three sisters” companion planting method – the third is squashes (as above), which you can grow around the base of the corn and beans to keep down weeds and provide a living mulch to retain water.

You might be wondering about bush vs runner beans.  Bush beans typically grow about knee high and don’t need staking or anything to climb up.  They don’t produce for as long as runner beans do.  On the other hand, you can plant them a little earlier and later in the season so it’s good to have both kinds.

Ballarat planting guide for November

Here’s what to plant in October in Ballarat, extracted with permission from John Ditchburn’s excellent Ballarat & District Seed Planting Guide which you can download in printable form from his website, Urban Food Garden.

Plant from seed

  • Basil
  • Beans – runner
  • Beans – bush
  • Beetroot
  • Capsicum/Chilli
  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Leek
  • Lettuce
  • Parsnip
  • Pumpkin
  • Radishes
  • Silverbeet
  • Sunflower
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet Corn
  • Turnips
  • Zucchini

Plant from bulbs and tubers

  • Potatoes

Plant out seedlings

  • Basil
  • Capsicum/Chilli
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Leek
  • Lettuce
  • Pumpkin
  • Silverbeet
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini

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