Five Things Vegetable Gardens Need in November

Photos by Birgitt Evans    ‘Tis the season to plant brassicas, including cauliflower.

 

November is a transition month in Alameda. Warm sunny days may be punctuated by rainstorms, but the nights are cooling down. Plant growth is slowing down and planting begins now for late winter or spring harvests. Here are some things Alamedans might want to do in vegetable gardens during November. 

1) Plant garlic. Garlic should be planted in the fall so that it develops a strong root system and can produce big bulbs in May. Plant certified, disease-free, seed garlic to prevent introducing diseases to the soil. Divide the bulbs into cloves and plant them — pointy side up — about an inch deep and six inches apart. 

2) Plant peas, greens and brassicas. Peas can be grown from seed. Plant every two weeks for a steady harvest beginning in February. Provide a trellis for the pea tendrils to cling to, such as a tomato cage. Greens can be direct seeded or transplanted. 

For brassicas, such as kale and broccoli, transplant seedlings into soil amended with compost and fertilizer. They will begin to produce in February or March. 
Protect all of these plants from hungry birds with bird netting or row cover and be sure to watch for snails and slugs. 

3) Remove and compost plant debris. Fall is the perfect time to start a compost pile. No box required, just a piece of ground large enough to hold two 3-foot by 3-foot piles about 3 feet high. Layer green weeds and kitchen scraps with browns such as leaves to maintain as 50-50 ratio of carbon and nitrogen. Chop up large debris. Keep the pile as wet as a wrung-out sponge and turn it every week or so to add oxygen. Adding a shovel of compost from a friend’s pile or a commercial compost starter will help get a pile going, but is not necessary. Rot happens! 

4) Gather leaves. Leaves make wonderful mulch to protect tender plants in winter and retain soil moisture in the summer. They are also great additions to the compost pile. Gather leaves from street trees if supplies are limited. Just be careful of traffic!

5) Harvest the last batch of tomatoes. Green tomatoes can be kept in a single layer in a shallow box on newspaper until they ripen. Add a ripe apple to speed ripening and remove any rotting ones quickly. 

Alameda Backyard Growers (ABG) is a network of gardeners in Alameda interested in growing food and donating fresh produce to neighbors who face food insecurity. Find the schedule for ABG’s monthly education meetings at www.alamedabackyardgrowers.com. 

ABG’s Project Pick is always looking for fruit trees to pick and volunteers to help pick them so more fresh fruit can be delivered to the Alameda Food Bank. To sign up email info@alamedabackyard
growers.org or leave a message at 239-PICK (239-7485).