November In The Vegie Patch


Await the perfect planting moment.

Every garden has it’s own microclimate, and the better you understand yours, the better your garden be. When your microclimate, and the needs of your crops meet is your sweet spot of abundance. This is the moment to hold out for. When conditions for each crop are perfect – boom! We’ve got our grow on people.

If you’re up north you’ll be planting kumara and tomatoes outside already – lucky you! My soil has only just landed on 15 degrees. A week or so here and I’m good to go for sowing beans. +3 more degrees and tomatoes, 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.

Without my greenhouse, I’d never achieve all our food growing needs. If you’re into growing your own vege and live somewhere cool, you need a greenhouse too!

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. This takes time and space 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 hurrah!

Direct sow and plant

cut and come again salads
Easy peasy saladings
  • 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 15 degrees 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. Meantime plant new seedlings out and you’ve got a self-care cycle of plants to eat and new plants coming on for a year-round supply. These humble guys are the backbone of the gardener’s kitchen. Full of minerals and goodness and 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 and buckwheat in any gaps for living mulches beneath and beside plants that need bees for pollination.
toms and melons hardening off
  • Harden off seedlings before planting out. Give them a few days outside and then a few days and nights before planting to adapt them well for a smooth transition.

A few important jobs

  • Weeding begins! Don’t let them 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. Buy a hoe (I love my hula hoe) and whip around once a week or dollop a thick layer of mulch on top of weeds.
  • Check your garlic. Dig one up to see if its forming bulbs. Fresh garlic – hurrah!
  • Be sure to thin out earlier sowings of beetroot, parsnip and carrot to 10cm as they hit four leaf, for good size crops.
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.
  • Have Neem on standby to easily manage sucking insects. They will come. And if it’s warm at yours maybe there already. Like weeds, you must get on top of them at the first sign. Don’t let them get a strong foothold – it’ll wreck your crops and your peace of mind. Here’s why my favourite is 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.

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. Canada has outlawed the use of it on gardens and looks like USA is going the same way.

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 big healthy seedlings and hummus rich soil.

miracles happen
  1. A weekly spray with high-quality seaweed feed keeps cells strong, boosts nutrient uptake and both of these things together prevent sucking bugs. The very best seaweed feed in NZ is Oceans Organics. Buy it in bulk through Agrisea if, like me, you got a bigger sized garden. Add Neem or EM or other herbal brew like stinging nettle if need be.
  2. 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. 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 outside basil, zucchini, cucumber, corn, beans and tomato

Give your seedlings the best start

tomato mini greenhouse

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 them outside in their pots for a few days and nights to get acclimatised.
  • Build a shelter around summer crops if the weather is still up and down at your place at planting time. 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?

    • That good old hoe was in a shed at a flat I was renting! The hoe I recommend is a hula hoe – the link is in the article or just google up hula hoe 🙂

  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!