November Gardening

The summer gardening season is really over now.  The big Douglas fir trees in my yard that I complain about because of their shade also keep the frost away.  Most of my neighbors have had a killing frost, but my tomatoes are still slogging along.  The other summer crop still in the garden is my amaranth.  This year I tried planting a few seeds of the grain amaranth that I picked up at the local health food store.  But we had a late cool spring, a wet early summer, and the amaranth took its time maturing.  I have some nice pretty flower heads now, but the seeds are not fully mature and there is no hope for the seed heads to dry down now that the rains have started.  I’m not sure what variety this is, I’m guessing it’s Plainsman, but has quite a bit of variation in flower color.  There are a few plants approaching ten feet tall.  I’ve picked in a couple of plants and put them in a bucket of water in the garage to see if the seed heads will mature as the plants die back.  There are a few nice stems in a vase on the table as well, and if the flowers will yield any grain when they are no longer fit to look at, that might suggest what to do with the rest of the crop.  It would be a shame to lose it all.

Along the other part of my fence I had planted some more of the Copperhead amaranth I grew last year, planting it late and just scattering the seed.  The result was an overly dense stand that I had to thin extensively over the summer.  This was the first year for much of this bed, and it really needs some compost, so yields were low.  This photo was taken about a month ago, after I had just harvested most of the seed.  The harvest yielded a little less than a quart of grain, but at least the seed heads matured enough to release their seed.

The rest of the winter garden is quite happy.  There are a few collard plants that are asking to be noticed.   I’m waiting for a few good frosts to knock down the aphids on some of the Brussels sprouts and overwintering cauliflower, but otherwise all the Brassicas are still growing well.

There are still plenty of leeks and parsnips in the ground to provide good eating over the winter.  The ground where the squash was is now pushing up fava beans for the winter cover crop.  In the beds, continuity lettuce, winter giant  spinach, mache, and various other greens are providing fall salads.  Pretty soon I’m going to make them a shelter of floating row cover for the winter.

Now it’s about time to let the garden be for a while; time to sit around the wood stove and make music as the nights close in for the winter.


  1. gorgeous garden, Gary. My Brussels sprouts got all eaten up. I’ve managed to save some of the crop and soaked the sprouts in some salted water to kill any critters. But the bulk of the crop looked sort of moth-eaten and not terribly appetizing. We had a rought, weird summer…way too much rain…my tomatoes burst on the vine. A good harvest of peppers…chili and bell…but last year’s bumper crop of eggplant eluded us this year. The best crop this year, oddly, was our apples. we got plenty of them last year, but this year they were larger…almost doubled in size (I credit the rains) and while they aren’t “market pretty” they clean up well and I’ve made a lot of applesauce and apple butter. Got a few squash…weird hybrids that I got in late and hoped would be marina di chioggias.

    I’m intrigued with the amaranth. How have you used it?

    1. Hi Bo, I’ve been wondering how you have fared with the recent snow storm back there. You certainly have had your share of extreme weather this year. As I’ve been watching your blog, I start to get envious of northeast/midwest summers around May, but then I remember about the rest of the year! It’s hard to predict what will be the “good crop” in any given year. That’s why its nice to have a big variety of things going.
      So far I’ve just used my amaranth as a breakfast cereal. I think its better than any other commercial hot cereal in terms of flavor and texture – and wins hands down for nutritional value. Only trouble is it takes about 20-25 minutes to cook, so is usually a weekend treat. Add a few dried apples and a little honey and you have a prefect breakfast.

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