November Garden Leavings: Clearing Out and Eating Up the November Garden

The November weather is finally turning toward the crisp mornings and cool afternoons traditionally associated with fall though usually earlier in the season. We’ve been between 5 and 15 degrees above normal highs and have yet to have a real frost (at least two weeks overdue, depending on how you calculate it). Political commentary about climate aside (and I have strong opinions on it), the warm temperatures mean that veggies are still growing in the garden.

After removing all the bell peppers (no matter how small) from the plants, we tore out the plants themselves. We have more peppers than we know what to do with, including a gorgeous number that would have been a bell pepper I would have purchased before all others in the supermarket. For a game day today, we cut up all the smaller ones, made black bean hummus, and noshed on crudités. After some waffling, I decided to leave the jalapenos on the plants because they’ll stay fresh longer on the plants.

Our tomato plants are still producing lovely, lovely tomatoes. The Cherokee Purple, Brandywine and San Marzano varieties are still ripening enough tomatoes that we don’t quite know what to do with them all (but regrettably still too few in one batch to warrant canning). We’ve made tomato curries and whipped up a batch of marinara sauce to freeze. I think another batch is our near, near future. We’re certainly nearing the end of their annual life cycle, but they are still deliciously productive (and thus still in the ground).

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The weekend haul of veggies

Although I’m not certain we will get a fall broccoli or cabbage crop (alas, I planted too late), we still have heirloom lettuce varieties growing for a few more green salads from the garden. Since the weather has been so unusual, I’m a little concerned that the garlic I planted thinks it’s spring, but I’ve also been told it’s not unusual for garlic to sprout shortly after a fall planting. We mulched heavily, so the crop should be okay through the winter—whenever it does get here. The flowers seem confused about it at any rate as the calendula and zinnia still look gorgeous.

Yesterday, I took my kitchen scissors out into the garden and snip, snip, snipped away at our sage plants. After rinsing and patting them dry, I spread them out in the food processor. Herbs from the garden are just another pleasant thing I will be able to use this winter. I may not have grown enough to preserve as much produce as I’d have liked, but I’ve been able to my garden all summer long. Adding a dash of homegrown sage to some midwinter dish will season this year’s satisfaction with the gardening progress we did make this year.

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