As the chill in the air gets chillier, it’s easy to forget to visit the garden. Many people don’t think of November as the season for gardening, but there’s always something to do or harvest in the garden.
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We focused on harvesting, maintaining active gardens, putting inactive gardens to bed for the season, and planting garlic and fruit crops in October. This month includes many of the same activities: harvesting, preparing the garden for winter, sowing garlic, and planting fruit plants. Following are some ideas for prioritizing what to do in the garden in November.
Click here to see my Year-Round Gardening Calendar.
Remember, these November garden tasks are based on my gardening in USDA hardiness zone 6a. You may need to make adjustments for your climate.
1. November Harvest
The growing season is coming to an end (or may be over depending on where you live) so I always harvest and process first before doing anything else in the garden.
Harvesting Cool Weather Crops in November
- Beets & beet greens (Here are my tips for harvesting beets plus a ton of beet recipes)
- Turnips (Greens are super tasty, too)
- Swiss chard
Harvesting Warm Weather Crops in November
- Dried (Soup) Beans
- Sweet potatoes (Here’s how to harvest, cure, and store sweet potatoes)
Harvesting Herbs in November
- Rosemary (Learn how to keep your potted rosemary alive over the winter)
- Thyme (Here are a few suggestions for using thyme)
Harvesting Perennial Crops in November
- Pawpaws (Asimina triloba)
- Persimmons (Learn how to forage for persimmons in this course I recommend)
- Strawberries (everbearing)
Grow a garden that’s both productive and manageable with my Complete Garden Planning System, which includes practical tools for planning your season from seed to harvest.
2. November Garden Maintenance
Here are the things I do in my garden to put the garden to bed and prepare for the winter months.
- Cut spent flowers, or leave seed heads to feed the birds through the winter.
- Leave vegetable flowers for bees, then save the seed. Here are some other fall flowers I grow for the bees.
- Put (non-diseased) dead plant matter in the compost. Cut plants at the base and leave their roots intact.
- Remove diseased plant matter and dispose in garbage.
- Mulch beds. Here are some mulching tips.
- Add soil amendments to inactive gardens with a digging fork. It’s the perfect time of year to improve soil.
Extending the Season
Set up a cold frame for fall and overwintering crops. Here are some cold frame tips.
- Cut back herbs and use them as fertilizer. Here’s how I use comfrey and the Herbal Academy shares how to fertilize with other herbs.
- Collect and save herb, flower, and vegetable seeds. Here’s how I save cilantro seeds and here are my tips for collecting calendula seed heads.
- Be sure to store your seeds properly.
Weeds can overwhelm even the most patient gardener so be sure to spend some time weeding. Here are five weeds you want in your garden and learn more about when weeds are good.
3. November Planting
Once my garden is under control, then I plant for the future! Don’t forget I’m gardening in USDA hardiness zone 6a – you may need to make adjustments for your climate.
Sowing Outside in November
- Garlic (Chesnok Red hardneck variety is one of my favorites)
Planting Outside in November
- Berry bushes (Plant aronia shrubs and grow your own superfood!)
- Fruit trees (Here are my fruit tree planting tips)
- Rhubarb (Try a beautiful red rhubarb)
Are you harvesting lots of good stuff this fall or are you putting the garden to bed?
Amy, November is a busy month for me in my suburban garden. Our first frost in Nashville, TN, on 11-1-14, ended the fall supply of vine ripened tomatoes. I picked the green tomatoes earlier and let them ripen in my basement. I dug and am now curing my sweet potatoes, just in time for Thanksgiving. I am removing the tomato cages and storing for next year. I am setting up cold frames for the small spot of spinach, collard greens, kale and turnip greens that are only about three inches tall now. My elephant garlic averages one foot tall. This is a great time to bury the tips of Triple Crown thorn less blackberries to start a new area to grow or to give away. My Joan J raspberries survived the frost and are still producing. I just picked the last of my Tahitian squash. Perhaps, I will thin out my “Sweet Charlie” strawberries and start a new bed. I am drying out heirloom seeds that I will save for next year. The saved seeds include Truckers yellow corn, Cherokee black beans , Tahitian squash, moon and stars watermelon, etc. There are still a few muscadines to be collected from the “Late Fry” variety. Since my fennel went to seed, I am spreading those seeds to new areas. I am saving Hummingbird vine seeds to spread these seeds by the fence line around the back yard. Has anyone saved with success sweet basil seed? This is the time of year that I wrap the trunks of young fruit and nut trees so that rabbits and mice do not chew on the bark. I usually bring in a pickup truck load of horse manure to compost for next spring. I wish I had friends with milk cows to give them the corn fodder for winter. There are still some more dried Cherokee black beans to be picked and saved for my next trip to Haiti, to assist orphanages to have a fresh garden of their own, located in Port-au-Prince. Well, that should keep me busy!
It sounds like you have a very productive garden and that you’re keeping up with it well! I need to harvest my fennel seed to keep it from spreading – thanks for the reminder 🙂
Melody C. says
Don, I’m in Murfreesboro. Sounds like you have an incredibly impressive garden. How big of a plot do you have? I am preparing a small garden bed for next year. I had three 8X4 boxes that were rotted and needed to be replaced, so I just pulled them up and tilled it all into one big plot. I need to finish the tilling and put down compost, and I also have some mineral replacer, and I’m gathering leaves for mulch. I’d like to try my hand at garlic. Can I just get cloves from the store or farmer’s market and plant those?
Because my yard is small – it’s not a back yard but a side yard, and about the size of a postage stamp – I’d like to try to grow blackberries and blueberries in pots, and maybe strawberries in gutters hanging on the fence. I’m also going to try tomatoes in self-watering containers to free up some space in the ground. My plan is to start an early spring garden in February/March and then try year-round gardening from there. Any other suggestions you have for me would be greatly appreciated.
Melody, I’m not Amy nor Don, but here goes. I would get my garlic at the farmer’s market from a reliable organic grower and go from there. I’ve had luck planting garlic in both spring and fall, but fall planting seems to do best. If you really like garlic and think you’ll be wanting to grow more varieties in the future be sure to find out if it’s an identifiable variety, i/o/w see if the grower knows the varietal name and also whether it’s a softneck or hardneck. Write the name down in a journal or logbook and put out plant stakes w/the name on it. Nice thing about garlic is that it can be tucked in many little nooks & crannies in the garden. There are lots of good books out now about balcony, small yard gardening. See what your local library has for free or can get for you on interlibrary loan. Good luck!!! Go for it!
I second that motion…garlic from my farmers’ market has been the most successful for me. I suspect one big reason why is because the variety has been adapted to my regional growing conditions through its generations of being grown by those local farmers.
You will be able to grow a lot in your small space, especially with your motivated spirit 🙂