The November Garden

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It’s the end of the month, and although it isn’t officially winter yet, the past few weeks have definitely brought some colder temperatures. We’ve had quite a few days of highs in the 40s to low 50s, with nights dipping down into the 20s and low 30s. Mornings now begin with a crunch as I march across frozen ground to let the ducks out of their house.

A cold morning with the ducks and garden.


But to look at what is growing in the garden today, it is hard to believe that Jack Frost just began his regular visits a month ago. We’ve harvested over 65 lbs of produce in this past month alone!  It is wonderful to have fresh produce available daily, just right outside the back door.

Asian greens, endive, swiss chard, and turnips harvested the day after Thanksgiving.


The majority of my gardening buddies have tucked their gardens in for the winter, but my beds are far from sleeping right now. One of the low tunnels is busting at the seams with swiss chard, beets, carrots, kohlrabi, Asian greens, lettuce, endive, romaine, turnips and rutabaga.

Venting the low tunnel. Today’s high temperature is in the 50s.


Most of the plants not protected in the low tunnels are pretty cold-hardy, rebounding quickly once temperatures warm above freezing.

Unprotected kohlrabi, top left, and Japanese Giant Red Mustard, bottom left, freeze solid, but bounce right back after temperatures warm (right panels).


Some of the greens aren’t fairing so well without the protection of the tunnel and are beginning to look pretty rough. Luckily, I’m growing replicates under the tunnels for comparison.

Unprotected mizuna. Lucky for me, the rest of the mizuna is under cover.


Many of the large michihili cabbage, komatsuna, gai choy, and pak choy plants are ready to harvest, but I haven’t had the time yet. To buy a little more time, I’m protecting them from the hard freezes under a floating Agribon cover.

Two hours after sunrise and a heavy frost lingers. A floating Agribon cover protects greens until ready to harvest, while unprotected broccoli in the same bed takes a hit.


Perhaps you don’t know michihili cabbage, or “chichi” as it is also known. It is a wonderful looseleaf Asian cabbage, much milder and more tender than European types. One head goes a long way!

Michihili cabbage with a 4-year-old for scale. Miss Muffet loves to play peek-a-boo with the large Japanese Giant Red Mustard leaves.


There are signs of new life everywhere too. The fava beans I planted a few weeks ago have begun to sprout, along with a new seeding of kale, beets, radishes, and lettuce.

Welcome little fava sprout!

Kale, beets, and radishes popping up, along with a few weeds (boo).


Another bed planted with kale and Asian greens in mid-October is now ready to be thinned. The micro-greens collected from the thinnings are going to make a wonderful salad!

Thin… eat… repeat.


There is a limit to the cold hardiness of some of the garden plants, though. The snow peas have pretty well given up; there are a few pods on, but they aren’t very pretty.

Snow peas on November 30th. Might be able to salvage a few, but most are heavily damaged by the freezing temperatures we’ve had.


The broccoli is finished as well, though I was able to get the last cuttings the day before Thanksgiving. There are a few tiny side shoots still coming on, but they are bitter and browned thanks to the hard freezes we’ve experienced.  But several purple-sprouting broccoli plants are looking really good, and will continue to grow slowly through the winter and produce in the spring.

Purple sprouting broccoli. These grew over the winter and were harvested on April 2nd this past spring (2012).


I’m looking forward to what December will bring from the garden. As you can see, I have many winter harvests ahead.

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