November In The Vegie Patch


The most important mission this month, is to keep planting and sowing. Leave the weeds! Don’t worry about anything else – focus on getting stuff growing. If your vegie patch is wild and weedy, rather than rip and pull weeds out – lay cardboard on top of the weeds and pile on compost and mulch and plant into that.

Garner more from your space than you ever thought possible, by stacking new seedlings beneath established crops. Eeeek out more harvests from the older crops while they nurture the younger ones.

Await the perfect planting moment

There is a goldilocks planting moment for each crop. When you plant a plant in soil that aligns with its happy place, boom! you’ve got your grow on. Use these temps as a rough guide. Some plants, beetroot for instance have a broad range in which they’ll grow, were as others like melon have a more narrow window. If seedlings romp away, you know youve got it right.

10 – 15° broadbeans, peas, spinach, kale, parsley, onion
10 – 20° beetroot, brassica, lettuce, leek, celery
15 – 20° beans, tomato
20-25° sweetcorn, cucumber, pumpkin, zucchini
20-30° pepper, eggplant, melon

The soil in my outside vegie patch has only just landed on 15 degrees. A week or so here and I’m good to go for sowing/planting beans. +5 more degrees and zucchini, cucumber, kumara and pumpkin will be in their happy place. Patience is rewarded.

It’s easy for me, this waiting when my greenhouse is full of all our summer goodness – tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, dwarf beans, cucumbers, melons, basil, zucchini – all the heat lovers growing great guns.

What I’m sowing and planting this November

november seed raising

The seedling operation really amps this month, then tails off to a steady hum come December. Here’s my take on raising really good seedlings.

Growing your own has many advantages. You can grow 2 or 3 or whatever you need each time, and you get to choose from a wide selection of varieties.

Raising seedlings takes time though, so if it isn’t for you, check out Awapuni Nurseries online shop. I love their good selection and newspaper-wrapped plants. No plastic pots = thumbs up from me.

Direct sow and plant

  • Little and often patches of quick greenery like rocket, spinach, coriander, lettuce and mesclun. Check out my easy peasy salad growing ways.
  • Direct sow root crops of beetroot, radish and the last lot of carrots.
  • Direct sow cornflowers, cosmos and calendula. Think of your flowers like your crops – a steady succession to keep your garden buzzing.
  • Once the soil is steadily sitting at 18/20° direct sow your first lot of green beans and my favourite of all – shell-out beans.
kumara mother
Shoots ready to be peeled from the Kumara mother
  • Kumara slips are about to go in (any day now!) I’m waiting for the soil in my kumara bed to hit 18 degrees – it’s getting a gee-up under plastic as we speak.
  • Yams can be planted out if not already done.
Parsley heading off to seed
  • Perpetual beet and parsley are heading off to seed. Let them go! They’ll feed the beneficial insects on the way to providing a new generation of plants for you late summer. Plant another lot of both these humble garden stalwarts now so you have fresh leaves to harvest while the older plants set seed and finish off. This sets your up for a hands free, year round supply – your garden will always and forever have some ripe for harvest and some seeding. Such valuable crops, always there in the background for dinner whenever there’s a lull or gap in cropping. 
High nectar phacelia – a must-have summer greencrop!
  • Direct sow phacelia , crimson clover and buckwheat in any gaps for living mulches beneath and beside plants that need bees for pollination. Especially cucurbits (zucchini, pumpkin, cucumber) who aren’t that enticing to bees.
toms and melons hardening off
  • Harden off seedlings before planting out. Give them a few days and nights outside before planting for a smooth transition.

A few important jobs

  • Weeding begins! Don’t let the weeds get a grow on my friends or you will create a big horrible mission later. Make life easy and get them while they are small. I love my hula hoe for a quick weekly whip around. For bigger weedy missions, lay card + a layer of mulch on top of weeds or spread black plastic and let the weeds melt back into the earth. This is far more pleasant for you and the soil.
  • Check root crops to see whether or not they need a thin. I leave beetroot and onions in little groups of 3 – 5. Carrots and parsnips I like to thin progressively as they grow – starting with perhaps 1cm between seedlings. This brings community and togetherness while they are small, so important for plants. I do a quick pass over every now and then and make a little more space each time.
  • Check your garlic. Dig one up to see if its forming bulbs and harvest is nigh. Fresh garlic – hurrah!
tomato frames are up
Tomato frames are up
  • Set up awesome, robust frames for growing on.
  • Protect all potatoes you plant from now on in with wondermesh, or other cover of choice, to keep the psyllids out.
  • Get out for a daily wander to squash pests. Sucking insects will come, and if it’s warm at yours maybe there already. Minimise them by ditching artificial fertiliser, slowing down on the rich soil amendments and building your beneficial insect supply. Its a far better life leaving nature to do the bulk of the insect management. If pests get away on you, here’s my favourite Neem.
Wondermesh keeps my spuds psyllid free

Brassica free = cabbage butterfly free!

You will notice there are no brassicas on my November planting list. That’s cos cabbage white butterflies start-up soon and I’m not that keen on managing them. Besides which we’ve just had 8 solid months of eating broccoli and cabbage – it’s time for summery things!

If you are growing spring cabbage or broccoli get ready with some insect mesh, the same fine mesh that keeps psyllids out will keep the butterflies from laying eggs on your precious cabbages, thereby preventing the caterpillars in the first place. Although the moths look haphazard, they are brassica seeking missiles, so cover your crops in an obsessive no holes way. Any little gap and they’ll be in there laying up a storm.

Otherwise, flick of eggs and squash caterpillars on your daily walk about.

Derris dust alert! Let’s stop with the Derris Dust. I know its easy. I know Grandma used it. But it’s super toxic! Rotenone, the active ingredient in Derris dust is a neurotoxin (why would ya go there) and fatal to many of our important beneficial insects – parasitic wasps, ladybirds and dragonflies to name a few.

In the greenhouse

A greenhouse is a high-stress environment, all that plastic and heat makes it so. It needs a bit more TLC to get through the summer. Start it off strong with healthy seedlings and excellent compost for glorious humus rich soil to keep plant immunity + production high.

  • A weekly spray with high-quality seaweed feed keeps cells strong, boosts nutrient uptake and both of these things together prevent sucking bugs. We love Oceans Organics around here. Buy it in bulk through Agrisea if, like me, you got a bigger sized garden. Add EM or Neem as needed.
  • Leave a bit of wild in your greenhouse to provide an ongoing mixed mulch – the very best soil conditioner! Sow greencrops/ companions in every gap (apart from the north side), and let them flower away to entice the bees in. I use nasturtium, borage, mustard, lupin, African marigold and shoofly. Chop them back when they encroach on the crops and pile on the soil.
greenhouse cucumber
bee on zinnia
  • Tray sow another lot of summer companion flowers like zinnias, sunflowers, marigolds and cleome.
  • Tray sow basil, zucchini, cucumber, corn, beans and tomato

Give your seedlings the best start

greenhouse tomatoes planted amongst saladings ediblebackyard nz

A strong start makes all the difference. So much depends here on what the soil and climate are like at your place. Whether the wind whistles through, whether you get 10 – 2 sun or not, whether your soil is warm, but lacking in nourishment (sand) or is heavy and wet, lacking warmth and air (clay). Mitigate whatever unfavourable factors exist at yours.

  • Planting a puny two-leaf seedling in the garden is like kicking your 4-year-old out of home – too vulnerable! Leave seedlings in their pots until they have 4 – 6 leaves and their roots fill the container out. Now plant them out. Grown-up and ready to handle it.
  • Make the transition from the cosseted world of the pot to being planted in the garden a gradual one. Leave seedlings outside in their pots for a few days and nights to get acclimatised.
  • Shelter them if the weather is still up and down at yours by planting amongst greencrops or beneath older/ nearly finished/ heading off to seed crops. Or build something. Use an old window, some clear plastic stapled to stakes, or a clear bucket with its bottom cut out.


  1. Linnea Lindstroem says

    Hi Kath,
    awesome as usual, just letting you know the cabbage butterfly is actually a butterfly – Pieris rapae if I’m not mistaken 🙂 Not that it makes any difference really, it’s nitpicking I’m afraid. Continue your amazing work and have a lovely spring and summer

  2. Rebecca Stewart says

    Hi Kath,
    I was wondering what your views are on this product ://
    we have used it with great success but I have seen differing views on its use as a toxin free caterpillar control.
    Thanks Rebecca

    • Yes its hard to make a call with the many varied opinions out their – most of them knee jerk and uninformed though that doesn’t stop them haha!! I use a different product but same essential ingredients and I’m happy as to use it. It’s caterpillar specific which to me is the big win – no bees, ladybirds, parasitic wasps are harmed. The only truly environmental way to manage pests is to use a physical barrier – an insect mesh. The minute you spray, no matter how sound the spray, you are causing a reaction somewhere. To me its about weighing up the pros and cons and for me a non selective (kill everything ) spray is out of the question – eg pyrethrum, garlic, rhubarb. Though my goal is to limit plastic + shopping as much as poss BT is one of the plastic bottles I choose to buy as its the only way we get brassicas complete and whole to the table. Life without brassicas … not going to happen! At the end of the day I say trust your instinct Rebecca, perhaps buy some and try it and see how you feel about it. Hope this helps Kath

  3. Kathryn Dewe says

    Hi Kath – what is that hoe you are using in latest video? Buy it where?

  4. Alison Dixon says

    Hi Kath, I was hoping to ask a question about raspberries but couldn’t see a way of doing it on your raspberry post. A couple of raspberry plants were planted in our garden last spring and I’m just trying to understand how to distinguish between new canes growing through vs. the runners that also sprout up? Which do you treat as new canes? How do you get them structured in a row? Sorry if these are silly questions! Thanks in advance, Alison

  5. Hi Kath,

    My vege garden is overrun by ants. Is there any natural/organic way to get rid of them without harming my veges? I’ve also got boysenberry growing and they love eating them once they’re ripe!

    Thanks, Holly

    • Ants are super tricky Holly – we get them too… they love the greenhouse! I’ve tried growing various herbal ant repellants to no avail so I use a chemical product called extermin-ant that you leave in a shallow dish and they take it back to the nest and it kills them. Cant help with the natural ant extermination sorry, but if you find anything that works would love to know!

  6. Carol Dyer says

    Marvellous info and advice Kath thanks very much; I could have done with this years ago.

  7. More awesome advice thanks Kath! It’s my first time growing potatoes and I see you recommend covering them with mesh. Don’t they get really tall? They must be hard to keep covered as they grow? Any tips around that? Thanks again, Liz

  8. Awesome thanks Kath – already have a roll of number 8 for mesh over my broccoli! Cheers 🙂

  9. What a fabulous website Kath, thank you so much for all the information. Could you please let me know what I can do to stop leaf miners tunneling through many of my rocket leaves? And can you still eat those leaves, apart from not looking too great. With many thanks. Cheers, Ingrid

    • Leafminers arent something I worry about Ingrid, but then I only get the odd little bit – perhaps my wild, diverse garden is the answer! Or perhaps my environment is just not as suited to them. Try insect mesh over top of them or you could also try spraying with Neem. They’re a tiny larvae, burrowing in the leaf, so wee that it doesnt bother me to eat them. Plus theyre only eating rocket right… try and see what you reckon 🙂

      • Ingrid Geerlings says

        Hi Kath, my kale is fine during the winter, but as soon as temperatures start to rise in early spring, the leafminers also tunnel through the kale :(. It is probably a good idea to at least try insect mesh, and probably also pull the kale out soon – given that the white butterflies are not too far away. Cheers, Ingrid

  10. Hi Kath, thank you for your super fast answer! They also get into my kale, not during the winter but definitely now as we get into spring. The kale is still growing really well, but maybe I should pull it out? Cheers, Ingrid

  11. I really liked your information on leaf seedlings, by the way really like your site.

  12. Elisabeth Downey says

    Hi Kath, I really appreciate your newsletters and advice especially regarding psyllids which have already arrived – sigh. Again, as I first discoveredthem last year, but at least this year I can spot them early. I’ve sprayed once with neem but will have to continue. They seem to enjoy the tomatoes, potatoes., cauliflower plants, nasturtiums and really anything nearby … a couple of questions. Should I spray the nasturtiums with neem too? And the other plants as well as the tomatoes and potatoes? Also – Should I clear the potatoes i(in pots not in the ground) f the leaves are dying back and yellowing? I did one and the potatoes are pretty small but maybe clearance is best? Also – can i compost the soil or could the psyllids be in the soil?
    Thanks again

    • Hmmm – psyllids on caulis or perhaps aphids? Not that it really matters so much.
      Work on building your soil, little and often with simple natural things and building your plant diversity and over time the pests will shrink.
      Once the spuds start dying back there will be no more growth.
      I dont bother Neem-ing nasturtiums – let them be natural and a host for beneficial predatory insects as well which will in turn limit numbers of sucking insects. Just because I dont though, let your own heart guide in this and all things 🙂
      Nature has got you and your garden safe n sound. Nothing to worry about at all – just watch and observe and try things based on what you see.
      Enjoy! Kath

      • Elisabeth Downey says

        Thank you for the speedy reply. I guess time as well as care is the answer. Is it OK to compost the soil from the potatoes or best to remove from the property?

  13. Ruth OSullivan says

    Hi Kath Im loving all your wise and easy peasy solutions for so many garden issues! Please could you tell me where you got your soil temperature gauge from? Ive been searching online but havent found one like it..thanks in advance!

  14. Megg Hewlett says

    Hi Kath
    Really appreciate your website – thanks!
    Question about carrots
    Planted some can’t remember when 3 months perhaps, and they’ve grown beautifully but then already they are going off to seed and even though ate not that big are woody. Did I plant too early? Not sure why they have bolted.
    I’m in Otautahi/Christchurch.

    • Oh darn… hate it when that happens 🙁 Strike it up to experience matey. Carrots can be left in the ground when its cold – so if sown in late summer for example, they’re ready in autumn and will hold beautifully in the soil until it starts to warm up again in spring when they’ll head off to seed. Spring sown carrots need to be harvested as soon as they are ready because as you’ve discovered, when it warms up they do their thing and head to seed – thats what the woody core is from. If they havent sized up it can be from a number of things – all related to soil – dried out or soils heavy or poor in some regard. Keep improving your soil by adding compost and mulch and greencropping and you’ll get there. Try again early autumn and keep an eye on the developing crop. Love Kath

  15. About leaf miners, we get small diamond back moths in our tunnel house that clean up our winter mescalun. We cant usually plant any greens after September because they get drilled to bits by their tiny green caterpillars. This winter though, I left a dill to go to seed and lots of little dill plants sprang up now a meter high through out the tunnel house. This spring there were no diamond back moths and no caterpillars on the mescalun. I just snip off the dill at ground level and have started to plant toms and peppers. Hope this helps!
    Love your book and have learned about ramial wood chips, we have a little C6 mulcher and lots of shelter shrubs that get too big for their boots, perfect fodder for the garden.

    • Thanks so much Jonathan. This is super helpful for all. You are living proof of the power of observation, letting nature unfold, a spirit of play – et voila! sorted. Love Kx

  16. Erica Viedma says

    Hi Kath, I am a new convert to gardening and have been studying your book non stop! Can you tell me where I can by this magical EM spray you talk about? We live in Christchurch and when we went to the local plant store they were not sure what I meant by EM – they suggested this thing called SEEK Organic BamBoo Power Natural Organic Liquid Fertilizer. Thanks for all your inspiration.

  17. Hi Kath, thanks again for another wonderful post 🙂 My tomatoes seem to be developing sections of black on their stems, about an inch or so long, and dark spots on some of the leaves, which I think may be a sign of verticillium wilt… do you have any experience with this? Google is telling me there is no hope…!


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