Cover Crops Encouragement (for Life as well as the Garden) Fall gardening late summer and fall mulching (mentioned) See my garden and borders in various seasons. Winter Gardening

Being Busy/ Thinking/ and the November garden

All of us are busy. There’s always so much to do.

I never remember a time in my life that I wasn’t busy. (And by the way, I consider marrying Bill the beginning of my life.)

Ideally I like having time to “think” each day. But there are times when all of us get swept up in a wave of work and/or problems that cause us to push so hard that we either have no time to think or we’re so exhausted by the time we get to that point that we can’t think.

In order to make the most of our lives in any situation, we need to stop and “sort” things out; reevaluating what’s important at this time and what’s not.

Are we doing things we really have to do or are we busy being busy?

We only have so much time in life and although we’re capable of accomplishing and doing a lot more than some folks would have us believe, we can’t do everything.

Sure Glad Gardening is Simple

That very fact makes me so glad that gardening is simple, because I can’t live without my garden. If it were as complicated and time consuming as various sources would have you believe, I couldn’t handle it all.

What it really boils down to is — all you need to know are the basic simple principles that produce a good garden. (And this applies to lot of things other than gardening – like your health.)

When problems come up, rather than spending lots of time and money trying to find the “proper” name and what man-made product will “fix” it — I choose to walk in the direction that I know will create good health in the garden. To do that, all I really need to know are the basic and simple principles. I call them the three keys to successful gardening. (Prepare the soil deeply; add organic materials; cover the soil.)

Thanksgiving Day

As I mentioned in my last post I have just completed an exhibit event celebrating Bills’ life and work.  Because of the many details involved, it was difficult before the event to find the time to even harvest for lunch each day.

Having that behind me (except for folks coming to pick up paintings), I’ve started again on outdoor tasks that need to be done before below freezing temperatures return and stay around.

Today, Thanksgiving Day, was perfect for outdoor work.


As I raked leaves today I thought about Peg (wife of friend and reader Frank in South Dakota) who wanted to send me some leaves because she knows I don’t really have as many as I’d like.

It’s doubtful that I’ll ever have as many leaves as I can use, but I’m happy to report that I seem to be getting more than I thought was out there.

Some have already been hauled to the garden.  The rest are raked in piles around the yard until I can move them. Raked onto a large piece of plastic they’re easy to pull to the garden.

Piles of leaves waiting for me.

Piles of leaves waiting for me.


This fall’s radishes have been delicious!!! We’ve just had a spell of freezing and below freezing temperatures. They didn’t like it, although they made it through. Covering them with leaves will give them a bit more insulation and they’ll probably do fine until it drops into the 20’s.

Leaves cover my radishes to try to protect them from freezing temperatures.

Leaves cover my radishes to try to protect them from freezing temperatures.

Winter Density

Lettuce this fall looks great!  Hopefully that will continue and I’ll be able to have an ample amount during the winter and early spring.

During the last cold spell I covered the bed with row cover fabric.  Today I put plastic down so I’ll be ready to pull both coverings over the wire frames (and secure it with bricks) when the forecast calls for it.

Winter Density is my best variety for winter growing. And it's delicious!

Winter Density is my best variety for winter growing. And it’s delicious!

Other Varieties of Lettuce and Mache

Pictured below are Black Seeded Simpson, a Red Romaine and Red Sails with Mache coming up all around it.   Although it’s not ideal the way it’s crowding the lettuce, I’m not moving it.

These varieties of lettuce sometimes do well in winter and sometimes don’t – even under cover.  Mache of course, thrives in winter.  It doesn’t need any protection even in the coldest temperatures we have. But it’ll get bigger faster under covers.


Mache seedlings coming up around the lettuces.



A closer view of Mache with one piece of Black Seeded Simpson.

Mache finally making an appearance in my garden will delight a young friend who visits from time to time.  (He starts asking where the mache is even in late summer (which is way too early). It’s his favorite green and he only gets it when he visits me (and my garden) in the winter.

Winter Cover Crop

I have 1 1/2 rows of winter rye along with a few other 3′ x 3′ spots.  Tomatoes are planned to go there next year after I cut the tops when the pollen starts to hang in late May.

The tall vegetation to the right are pepper plants after the freeze.  I’ve started cutting them up, but haven’t finished yet.

The other stalks to the left are the summer pointsetta that I allow to reseed each year for use as a cover crop when needed.

The freeze finished it.  I’ll cut the tops at ground level leaving the roots in the beds. Straw and/or leaves will go over the tops that I’ll lay on the bed.

Rows of Winter Rye.

Rows of Winter Rye.


Peppers are so beautiful in my fall garden.  I enjoying seeing them heavy with fruit.  Just before the freeze I picked about 3 dozen red ones and 5 dozen greens.  For me that’s about about two weeks of fresh eating.

This was my last red pepper of the season. Harvested just before the hard freeze.

This was my last red pepper of the season. Harvested just before the hard freeze. It was also my biggest of the season.


I didn’t get all my garlic planted because of the show. (Mentioned earlier.)  It’s late but I’ll experiment and plant some this coming week. If the weather holds and it develops a good root, it’ll do just fine.


Still have plenty of tomatoes for fresh eating.  Should last most of December.

I have friends who have been back and forth in a move to Florida.  They adore tomatoes as much as I do and I shared a dozen or so with them when they returned the other day.  They sent me a photo of their evening meal last night.  The tomatoes looked so pretty I thought I’d share it with you.

My friend's evening meal with the tomatoes I shared.

My friend’s evening meal with the tomatoes I shared. I feel sure the beans and potatoes are from their garden.


Still have plenty.


Gorgeous potatoes this year, especially those Yukon Golds!  Brought some in but they’re not storing well due to the warm temperatures after harvest. (Outside temperatures affect the storage area as well.)

Parsley, Sorrel, Chard

Still going.

Final Thoughts

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day and that you were able to have a fresh garden salad with your meal.


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  • I stumbled onto your posts while looking for ways to deter squirrels. I’m still working on it…
    My question is how big is your garden?

    I appreciate your posts and always look forward to them.

  • The winter rye looks great. Will you pull the roots when you put in tomatoes, or just cut it back when it starts too seed?

  • Good morning, Theresa, and Happy Thanksgiving. Every year, I vow to get the entire garden protected with cover crops before winter arrives. There’s always something that keeps me from accomplishing it (weather, other projects, aching back, etc.), but each year I do get a little more of the garden in a cover crop. Right now, I can look out at some sections where I planted annual rye, and that bright green looks almost neon in the bleak winter landscape. So, even though it’s not the entire garden, “Never underestimate the power of a little”, right? Enjoy your day!

  • My garden is approximately 2400 square feet, Jessica.

    Heather, I’ll just cut the rye back. Here’s the post with that strategy explained in detail.
    A strategy that required pulling or turning that under would be way to hard fo me physically. Those roots go deep and hug the ground.

    Mary, I love your description of the winter rye. I so enjoy seeing the “bright green that looks almost neon” in the bleak winter landscape!


  • Had the kids, grandkids and grandogs over yesterday. Of course a tour of my small garden was on everyone’s list. I get lots of family support for my garden, everyone loves fresh veggies. I’m getting at least 4 cukes a day, the tomato plants are loaded with blooms and jalapeños and lettuces are coming along. I’m a bit terrified because I’m leaving for a week to care for my grandson while my daughter is on duty. My husband does not do well with the garden. I may have my sister stop by and check on the cucumbers because they can grow from a little tiny start to ripe in just a few days……they are crazy. If she can’t use them all she can take them to the shelter for me. Hope we get some rain because my garden is going to need it while I’ m gone. Happy growing from Florida.

  • Are there any special ways you enjoy preparing peppers? I had access to tons of peppers last year but none this past year. I sure missed them too! Grocery store peppers, even the organic ones, are a sad replacement.

  • Bonnie, I sure am glad that you get lots of support for your garden from your family! Nice too that your sister can help out while you’re gone.

    Patricia, grocery store “anything” – are sad replacements for homegrown!

    Lot of ways to fix peppers but I like to eat most of mine raw.(better nutrition too) The red ones I could munch on all the time if I had that many. I usually rough cut them (green and red) and mix with my chopped cabbage, radishes, parsley, garlic, etc. and toss with some olive oil and vinegar.


  • Theresa, I LOVE seeing pictures of your garden. I just can’t get enough. The picture of your tomatoes reminded me of a friends tomatoes from Idaho. They were So very sweet and delicious. Mine are never that good but I am continuing to try.
    What kind of peppers are you growing (in the photo)? This year I had a little luck with my Pablano peppers which I love. I would also like to find a good red pepper to grow if I can. My climate just may not be conducive to it. I am also excited to see if my Mache self seeds this year. I was scattered with thoughts and time this year and didn’t get my lettuce started sad to say. Your lettuce beds are beautiful!

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