Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Garden in Early November, 2014 & The November Garden Share Collective

Time for another garden tour and Garden Share Collective post. This is an odd time of year in my garden. There are still some "summer" vegetables lingering in the garden but the shorter days and generally colder nights have slowed them down considerably. Most of the summer garden is finished though and I'm slowly getting through the clearing out and setting out some veggies that may or may not produce in the winter. The weather can be surprisingly warm at this time of year, the forecast for today is a high of 83ºF (28.3ºC). In a "normal" year it can be cool and rainy. Actually, we did have one of those days last Saturday, it was so refreshing and all the plants seem to be happy to have the collected dust of summer thoroughly rinsed off their foliage.

In bed #1, all the corn has been cleared out.

November 3
The Purgatory beans are drying on the vine, unfortunately I think I started them on an early demise when I treated them for spider mites and then we had days when the temperatures passed 90ºF (32ºC) which killed a lot of the foliage. Maybe next year I'll be able to get a decent crop of these beans.

Purgatory Beans
There's Golden Sweet snow peas and Super Sugar Snap peas growing up the trellis that is surrounded by remay (to discourage the voracious birds).

The snow peas are just setting the first pods. The snap peas were started later so they aren't near to producing anything yet.

Golden Sweet snow peas
Further down the bed is a patch with some Watermelon radishes that are just sizing up. And there's a patch of late planted carrots that are in desperate need of thinning. With luck I'll get a few baby carrots before I have to clear them out to set out onion starts at the end of the year or early January.

The one remaining trellis of beans is home to the spring planting of Tarbais beans. A number of the plants died after producing a crop of dried beans, but a few of them regrew and since I didn't need the space this fall I watched to see what would happen and they are actually producing a small second round of dried beans!

Here's a view from the far end of the bed. The Romanesco zucchini and green beans are cleaned out. My task for today (or at least this week) is to start replacing the drip lines in this bed and then get the garlic in. This bed is going to be planted with mostly alliums which will occupy the space through the winter and spring or early summer.

The next bed over is home to mostly winter vegetables.

The fall planting of snap beans is on the way out. The plants struggled early on, many of them succumbing to a soil borne disease (fusarium?) and only produced a modest crop. They are trying to produce a few more beans now but they aren't very good. I'll be pulling these soon. In front of the beans are late late planted celeriac and celery, I don't hold out much hope for a decent harvest from them.

But look at the Romanesco! Give it room and it will use it all up and then some. Some plants are leaning into the middle of the bed,

and some plants are leaning back to block the path.

The lacinato kale is filling it's space as well. A couple of the plants are producing really nice side shoots.

The Di Ciccio broccoli plants are putting out nice new shoots after I treated them to a bit of fish fertilizer and a liquid bloom fertilizer. That's the only supplemental feeding they've received since I set them out at the beginning of June and after producing about 30 pounds of heads and shoots they seemed to appreciate the snack.

Isn't that lovely!

The Tronchuda Beira is trying to grow behind the broccoli and next to the Romanesco. It will get a bit more sun when I clear out the old Petaluma Gold Rush bean vines. I also tuck the Romanesco foliage out of the way when it starts to elbow its way into the Tronchuda Beira's space. If given more room and sun the Tronchuda Beira can produce enormous leaves.

There's the Petaluma Gold Rush vines that I have yet to clear out. In front of the trellis is the fall/winter planting of Amazing Taste cauliflower.

It's turning out to be a strictly fall planting, the heads seemed to just appear out of nowhere in the last 10 days. Some of them are ready to harvest now, like I better get out there today while the picking is good. The heads are much smaller than the spring/summer ones but they are a respectable size.

The next bed over is where I grew mostly salad and cutting greens through the year. I slipped in a late planting of cucumbers which turned out to be enormously productive.

Green Fingers Persian cucumbers

This tunnel is full of newly planted goodies, including various radishes, baby turnips, rapini, and spinach.

Terrible photo, but this is my patch of recently harvested amaranth amidst volunteer cilantro and carrots. If the warm weather continues the plants may produce enough new shoots to provide one more harvest this month.

The other tunnel in this bed is mostly cleared and prepared for new plantings.

I've got some lettuce seedlings started which I'll set out in the tunnel. There's also a few chard seedlings that I'm going to try, although they probably won't amount to much before they bolt in the spring.

I hope that the beets that I sowed recently in paper pots will produce at least baby beets this winter. One advantage to growing these in the tunnel is that it is easy to cover the tunnel with frost cloth if a freeze threatens. The other pots have starts of escarole and radicchio, just an experiment to see what happens when I do a late planting.

The chard plants are really struggling. But I'm not surprised, these were sown way back on January 10 and were crammed into the tunnel almost all year. They were thoroughly infected with powdery mildew recently so I removed almost all their leaves. They got a bit of fish fertilzer recently so I'll leave them for now and see what happens.

The Tromba d'Albenga zucchini vines are still growing and resisting powdery mildew. They've taken a break from producing new zucchini's recently, but I just spied one in the foliage this morning and...

Perhaps these will grow rather than wither and die.

The last bed is still full of summer solanums. The eggplant was nearly taken down by spider mites in September. I sprayed with Neem and Pyganic which seemed to slow the mites but killed the flowers. Then I stripped the plants of all the worst infected leaves and gave them a dose of fish food and a bloom fertilizer. The plants are making a comeback and are blooming and some of them are setting baby eggplants.

If the weather doesn't turn too chilly later this month perhaps I'll get a harvest of young eggplant.

The remaining tomato plants are hanging in there and even producing a few tomatoes. The biggest problem now is the birds. Most of the new tomatoes are at the top of the plants and the birds were just perching up there and having a feast.

So I covered some of the plants with fine netting.

And there's a forest of clanking water bottles and strips of flash tape fluttering all around.

And tomatoes are trickling in.

Jaune Flamme

Chianti Rose

The birds aren't restricting their appetites to tomatoes. For some reason they love the foliage of the Sicilian eggplant.

And the new growth on the pepper plants.

But not all the birds are pests. The Bushtits have discovered the aphids in the fennel. It's so fun to watch these little birds maneuver themselves around the floppy seed heads. They are doing a good job of cleaning the pests out, I could hardly find any aphids when I took a close look. The also provide this service in my Meyer lemon tree, they get in there and clean out the scale, it's amazing how thorough they can be, I have never had to spray.

Now for the Garden Share Collective report.

I reported on what's been planted over the course of the tour.

Harvests, I won't go into the details since you can see those on my weekly Harvest Monday posts. Here's a summary of October harvests for the 5 years since I started keeping detailed records. Sorry, it's all in pounds, but the numbers are really here for comparison to see how this October stacked up against previous years.


Beans, Snap
Beans, Dry and Shelly

Beans, soy







Celery Root

Corn, dry













Winter Squash




One of the most glaring differences here is the total lack of eggplant harvests this October - the spider mite thing. And the tomato harvests were off as well because I had fewer plants to start with and 3 of them died before October. Some other differences, such as melons and onions were more about timing. The garden before 2012 was less productive in general because that was before I had my beds properly constructed, I went from big mounds of soil to huge boxes starting in 2012 which expanded the growing space quite a bit and also provided more protection from gophers and moles. 2011 was a particularly off year for just about everything because of the population explosion of rats which were eating everything they could get to.

So here's the plans for the next month:
-- Replace the drip lines in Bed#1, a number of the lines were "recycled" from the old beds before I had the big boxes constructed. There's now some blind spots along the lines where emitters have finally clogged from the hard well water.
-- Get the garlic planted.
-- Order the onion starts.
-- Finish cleaning out the old "summer" plants.
-- Compost - sift the oldest bin and consolidate some newer ones.
-- Continue planning the 2015 garden and refine the planned successions.
-- I'm going to try to disinfect my trellises and cages. The powdery mildew and spider mites were  awful this year and I'm hoping that a good cleaning will reduce spores and eggs, anyway, it can't hurt.

The Garden Share Collective is a group of bloggers who share their vegetable patches, container gardens and the herbs they grow on their window sills. Creating a monthly community to navigate through any garden troubles and to rival in the success of a good harvest we will nurture any beginner gardener to flourish. Each month we set ourselves a few tasks to complete by the next month, this gives us a little push to getting closer to picking and harvesting. The long-term goal of the Garden Share Collective is to get more and more people gardening and growing clean food organically and sustainably.

The Collective is hosted by Lizzie on her blog Strayed from the Table, there you will find links to gardeners in Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Europe, and United States. There's lots of garden inspiration waiting for you there!


  1. I could use some bushtits. Aphids tend to be my worst pest in the garden. Not always, but often. At my last house, something kept them under control, but here there seems to be very few things. At least I don't have your voracious birds. I do get some bird damage, but not a lot.

  2. Bummer about those beans but that cauliflower would make up for it for me. It is just one thing I can not grow far too warm here. I love the idea of clanking water bottles in through the garden to scare off the birds. Our birds just don't seem smart enough yet. The crows we did have seemed to have moved on.

  3. Your garden is just going, non-stop...I don't know how you keep up with it all! That head of cauliflower is so perfect - just beautiful!

    How old were your recycled drip lines? We are on hard well water too but I'm hoping that the lines will last a good number of years before they get clogged up & need replacing. So far only my original 4 beds are on drip but I'm planning nto install lines on all the other beds next year.

    1. The lines seem to last about 4 years before they start to clog up. But with my long growing season and totally dry summers I probably have to run my irrigation system a lot more than you run yours. I even have to turn it on in the winter sometimes if we don't get enough rain. I imagine you should get a few more years out of your lines than I do.

  4. I always like seeing what cunning new ideas you have for using bits of garden "hardware"! (I mean trellises, support-systems, protection arrangements etc). That Di Ciccio broccoli you have grown is amazingly prolific. I'd like to get some of that, because I am particularly fond of broccoli. It's very versatile and goes in/with lots of different types of food.


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