November In The Vegie Patch

asparagus!The best thing about November is that Asparagus and Broadbeans are in it. Two of my favourites! Together! At the same time!

Finding the perfect planting moment.

Every garden has it’s own microclimate, and the better you understand yours, the better your garden be. And when your micro climate, and the needs of your crops meet is your sweet spot of abundance. This is the moment to hold out for – wait to plant till conditions for each crop are perfect and 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 is still at 13 degrees, so I’m patiently waiting. 13 degrees is too cold for summer crops to flourish in. The day will come.

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, the first 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 just grow 2 or 3 or whatever you need each time, and you get to choose from a wide selection of varieties. Growing seedlings doesn’t work for everyone though, and 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

  • 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 beans.
  • Kumara slips are about to go in (any day now!) I’m waiting for the soil in my kumara bed to hit 18 degrees – its getting a gee up under plastic as we speak.
  • Yams can be planted out if not already done.
  • Perpetual beet and parsley are going to seed. Let them do their thing to feed the beneficial insects and self seed everywhere to save you shopping for these guys ever again. If you plant new ones out now and let the winter ones seed, you’ll set yourself up to always have some to use. Though they be humble and ordinary they are the backbone of the kitchen and your wellness.
  • Direct sow phacelia and buckwheat in any gaps. As well as rest and repair greencrops provide you with homegrown mulch, making them super valuable. If the idea of less shopping and plastic floats your boat – squeeze them in.

hardening off seedlings

  • Harden off seedlings before planting out . Pumpkin, squash and sunflower seedlings are in transition from greenhouse to outside – a few days outside and then a few days and nights and then planting, adapts them well for a smooth transition. Once the weather improves (wont be long!), outdoor cucumbers, tomatoes, and the first lot of corn and zucchini seedlings will be next ones outside.

A few important jobs

  • Weeding begins! Don’t let them get a grow on my friends. We don’t need outside housework and big missions. Lets keep things easy and get them while they are small. Dollop thick mulch on top of weeds or hoe them up and leave them on top to return to the soil. Gardening is depressing when you leave weeds to smother your crops and get a grow on.
  • Be sure to thin out earlier sowings of beetroot, parsnip and carrot to 10cm as they hit four leaf, for good size crops.
  • 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 its 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.


Brassica free = cabbage butterfly free!

You will notice there are no brassicas on my November planting list. That’s cos cabbage white butterflys 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 butterflys from laying eggs on your precious cabbages, there by preventing the caterpillars in the first place. Although the moths look haphazard as, 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 good size patch going on. I love their super handy Easy Sprayer. Put the seaweed concentrate in, add a bit of Neem or stinging nettle if you like and click it onto the hose. It dilutes the seaweed just right and that lovely fine pressurised mist gets in every nook and cranny. Awesome also for school and urban gardens. Make it easy and you’ll do it.
  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

  • Tomatoes, dwarf beans, zucchini, melon, eggplants, chillies, basil and cucumbers are growing like rockets in the warmth. Keeping an eye on soil moisture hits the job list.
  • De-lateraling the greenhouse tomatoes is in. I do this to create single leaders that’ll grow up strings. The airflow is important for disease prevention, and it makes spraying and picking a dream.
  • 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 is 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