It’s been a few months since my last garden update (the most recent being in August), but my goal is to write these at least semi-regularly so I can keep track of what things look like year round, not just when the garden is in full swing and has plenty ready to harvest. That said, I did harvest some produce out of the garden year round last year, and I expect to do so this year as well.

I have yet to set up a greenhouse or even any sort of cold frame, so anything growing now is fully exposed to the elements. My goal is to eventually change that, but as the garden is in the front yard, I will want it to look a lot nicer than if it were tucked away from view in the backyard. That, and at least a few things do well enough without that season extending protection, so it hasn’t been high on my list of priorities thus far.

Currently Harvesting

Currently, we aren’t harvesting anything other than a random onion or carrot here and there that have been hanging around for quite some time. We haven’t really gotten below freezing much yet, but I will want to pull up the last of them before we get a real cold snap. Since August, we harvested the last of the potatoes and just finished them off in the past few weeks, and I’ve done a lot of planting and preparing for winter in the garden. We also have plenty of garlic left even after I planted an entire bed of it last month. This time of year is quiet, but not fully dormant, when it comes to the garden.

Not an edible, but the last of the marigolds are still in bloom. Maybe half the plant has already lost its petals, but as long as we do have some flowers, I won’t be pulling up the plant entirely. Other than the little purple flowers on the heather by our front door, our yard won’t be very colorful until spring. I’ve never been a huge flower person, but seeing these bright yellow spots of sunshine this late in the year is helping to convince me that I really should consider growing some year-round color.

Naughty Marietta Marigolds

At this point in the year, I wish that I had planted a lot more carrots and onions this spring, but since I didn’t, we’re down to the very last few until I plant more in early spring. I also plan to pull up the last of this past year’s kale before too long; it’s been around for a while, so it will likely go into a soup or stew of some sort where it can be cooked down until it’s fully soft.

And of course, I’ve picked a ton of Swiss chard from our neighbor’s yard in the past few months, and they still have a ton left. Through that process, I’ve decided I will be planting quite a bit of Swiss chard in our garden next year as I’ve gotten quite fond of it lately. It’s especially good crisped in butter to be added to any variety of meals as well as a green addition to our weeknight fancy ramen dinners.

Allll the Swiss Chard

Fall Planting

Last month, I decided I did want to have a reasonably significant fall/winter garden, so a good percentage of the raised beds and pots have something growing in them even now in mid-November.

Some of what is growing now was started from seed, but most of it is from garden starts from our local nursery. This isn’t because the plants are terribly difficult to start from seed, but instead because we had an overly busy end of summer / beginning of fall and I simply didn’t get around to planting seeds early enough, the exception being fava beans, garlic, and Black Seeded Simpson lettuce (although that last one only happened because I didn’t harvest the seed heads fast enough and they dropped to the soil and redeemed themselves).

Black Seeded Simpson “volunteers” 

The same actually happened to my Evergreen Bunching Onions (green onions), though I didn’t realize it right away because I did save most of those seeds to plant next year. It feels a bit late to have green onions sprouting, but we shall see what happens. Perhaps we’ll get lucky and have a few small ones for our dinner sometime later this winter.

Otherwise, I purchased starts for, and planted, celery, leeks, more kale, purple sprouting broccoli, and cabbage. The new kale is doing extremely well (unsurprisingly), so I will probably end up stealing a few leaves off the plants now and again once I’ve used up the last of the previous year’s planting.

Overwinter Preparation

Otherwise, this time of year is mostly preparation for the overwintering plants and cleanup from the bounty of summer. I’ve cleared out most of my tomato plants and other annuals at this point, though there is still some work to do in some of the beds. Leaving the stragglers isn’t exactly a problem at this point, except that it isn’t very pretty, and it just means that I’m leaving work off for myself come springtime if I don’t do it soon.

Celery, leeks, and the hops structure

I have purchased some bags of mulch though and have done a decent job spreading it on the beds that do have fall and winter plants in them, but I have yet to do the same for the few beds still holding on to the last of the summer annuals. The mulch does help keep the weeds down, and it will protect the beds from runoff once we start to regularly get a lot of rain. Oddly, it’s still been pretty dry off and on up until this point. The mulch then eventually breaks down (hopefully hanging around long enough to hold moisture in the beds come next summer), and the nutrients help to build up the soil for the next planting rotation.

In addition to the mulch and compost that’s added this time of year as well as in early spring, I planted one garden bed with fava beans. They are delicious in their own right, but I am using them here first as a green cover crop, and the fact that they’re edible is really just a secondary bonus. Obvious from this picture, though: I still need to mulch this bed.

Fava bean starts 

Cost

Now that we’re in November, I haven’t spent anything on the garden for the past four weeks or so, but our trip to the nursery in October did add up to a significant sum of money, almost doubling the amount of money I’ve spent on the garden for all of 2018. That said, spending up $200 for the entire year, considering how much food we have harvested, is pretty darn frugal, in my opinion. While I could obviously have cut down the cost of the trip to the nursery by actually getting around to starting my own seeds this fall, it still isn’t a significant number altogether.

September was the last month where it was dry enough to need to do any watering, and I’m likely overestimating the $10 added to our water bill that month. Now that it is raining (off and on at least), we won’t have to spend anything on water until at least May or June. Perk of our wet winters, to be sure.

Garden Cost, September: $10

Garden Cost, October: $74.32

Garden Cost, November: $0

Garden Cost, YTD: $169.64

Are you able to grow anything year round? Would you like to?

27 thoughts on “Fall Garden Update: November 2018

  1. wow I do love your garden posts! I’m trying to find some “extra” money to buy a greenhouse. My daughter and I planted a vegetable garden in pots in Summer and now the cold weather has killed it all!

    1. Greenhouses (especially the fancy kit ones) are SO dang expensive. If you aren’t worried about the look so much, you can usually get mismatched windows for really cheap at building reuse stores (like Habitat for Humanity).

  2. I like reading about your garden! You did an awesome job of keeping costs down! I may have to try the cover crops next year but I am too late to start that this year.

    1. Yeah, cover crops are something I tend to miss so I was pretty thrilled with myself for planting the favas on time this year 😉

  3. Your garden always impresses me! I’m so jealous of how on top of it you are! I planned to start one this year, and I got as far as weeding the flower bed. And then life got busy.

    1. I wouldn’t quite call it “on top of it.” More that I’ve been tending this same garden long enough that it can put up with my neglect now lol

  4. Aside from general cleanup and planting overwinter crops, I’m unsure if there’s anything else I should absolutely do. What do you think?

    It’s great that you can carry a reduced garden year round!

    1. I would say that’s pretty much it – gardens are pretty low maintenance in the fall and winter months even if you do have something growing. Otherwise, dream and plan for spring and don’t get sucked into buying too many seeds 😂

      1. The planning may have already started…. =) I’ve banned buying any seeds until Feb/March to limit how much I get sucked into buying seeds.

        On another tangent, I know collecting seeds and doing your own starts is the cheapest way. Especially when you get a full packet of seeds and use less than half of them that year. But some things, like radishes, green beans and snap peas (for example), you use most of the seeds, so I decided to be lazy and pay for them again next year. I’m not sure it’s logical since it’s easy to collect those seeds but… eh..

      2. Yeah, I’ve only gotten decent about seed saving for the last couple of years, but it feels like you’ve accomplished something huge when you plant out of your own store instead of a packet. But oh, the siren song of pretty new heirloom varieties…

  5. Gardens are tough one for time and return on investment. We tend to keep ours very simple but will expand it next year to add potatoes, onions and carrots. We do kale and tomatoes as our primary focus and didn’t do much else as our garden space is limited. I need to decide to cut down a large tree in the yard if a garden getting larger is our goal. It crowds the SW corner of the yard which here in the PNW is important for the growing season.

    1. My front yard is actually north facing but as our backyard is completely ensconced in trees, it’s our only option. Now that I’ve been at it in one location for eight years it’s gotten a lot better in terms of both time and cost.

  6. Nice. Our community garden has been neglected since September. Residents don’t want to deal with gardening when it’s cold. 🙂 We’ll get together in April to work on the community garden.

  7. Swiss chard is stunning! Our garden (except for green onions) never made it, it’s 99% our fault. But we were rich in chives!

  8. Ooh, looks good! I’m not sure I’ve ever had swiss chard (I’m not sure I’ve seen that red stalk, but maybe it was in salad without that part)? I’ll have to buy some and try it crisped in butter because that sounds healthy + delicious!

    1. I use it in bibimbap bowls as well! Soooo good. Chard can also have white and yellow and green stalks (but the red is definitely the prettiest).

  9. Beautifiul picture of Chard. Our climate here in the PNW is perfect for greens. I slacked big time in the garden this summer. I really only grew zuchinni, acorn squash and tomatoes. As always, your an inspiration, Angela.

  10. Melbourne is an all-year-round climate, so I’ll be keeping the veggie beds going all year. Before every winter I say, “I’ll have a break from the garden” but I can’t help planting things!

  11. One thought for people to lower gardening costs is to source mulch from their city’s public works department when available. In many communities municipal governments offer free or low cost mulch to residents as a way to “recycle” the yard waste they’ve collected from residents.

    Another cost saving way to acquire garden materials is to find local plant and seed swaps to attend, usually held in late winter or early spring in most of the US. Most gardeners have so much abundance and love to share their surplus with aspiring gardeners even if the newcomers don’t have anything or as much to swap. Plus it’s a great way to interact with and learn from other local gardeners.

    1. Huh. I’ve never heard of that from our local municipalities! I think our waste management company sells the compost and mulch.

      I seriously need to attend a seed swap at some point.

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