Master Gardener Food Gardening Specialist Bryce Sumner sings the praises of persimmons: "Persimmons are beautifully suited to Sonoma County gardens. Unlike most fruit trees, they need little winter chill. They blossom later than most, avoiding frost danger. The fruit ripens in November when most other fruits have come and gone. And, for the smaller garden they have the added advantage of not needing cross-pollination. A single tree will produce fruit. Trees are highly ornamental. In addition to the vivid orange fruit, the leaves turn eye-catching colors of red, orange and/or yellow before the fall leaf drop." To learn more about persimmons' cultural/maintenance requirements as well as harvesting tips, click here.
In the Garden
In Sonoma County, shallots can be planted as early as September and as late as December. While in the onion family, shallots ;are sweeter and milder in flavor. They almost have a hint of garlic and none of the bite you get with many onions. They are a perfect addition when the dish--such as salad dressing--is eaten raw, and also work well with delicate dishes such as quiches.
Master Gardener Sara Malone, who lives in Petaluma, finds that she can plant peas between November and February as long as she avoids soggy times. This may be something that you want to check out and try!
The Late Cool-Weather Food Garden
If you haven't planted your fall and winter food garden, it's time to get busy! The last day Sonoma County has 10 hours of daylight is November 18 and, as that date approaches and weather cools, plant growth slows down. Plus, frost will be here before we know it. Our goal is to select crops and varieties that will mature before these dates. Plus, we need to know what cool-weather crops might overwinter for a extended harvest during winter or in early spring when growth begins again. This effort is worth it. Not only are cool-weather vegetables delicious, they are the most nutrient-dense crops that you can grow. Master Gardener Janet Barocco provides the information you need to plant your cool-weather garden in the nick of time.
We don't normally quote Geraldo Rivera, but food gardeners will appreciate this: "Mother Nature may be forgiving this year, or next year, but eventually she's going to come around and whack you. You've got to be prepared." Cold weather is coming. Buy supplies now (frost cloth, garden stakes, ground staples, cloches and/or materials to prepare protective tunnels). And pay attention to the weather reports when the weather cools. Read more about winter weather.
Food Garden Specialists
Food Garden Specialists (FGS) are volunteers in the UC Master Gardener Program of Sonoma County. They have a passion for and extra training in sustainable food gardening. In addition to offering food gardening workshops, they provide free advice and consultation services to community gardens throughout Sonoma County. Read more.
Food Garden Tips
November Food Garden Tasks and Tips
For what to grow this month, click here.
- Start watching weather predictions and, if necessary, protect citrus and harvest frost-tender crops. You can extend the growing season by covering some crops with cloth or plastic-covered hoops during cold nights—remember to remove the cover when the sun appears.
- Between November 17 and January 23, there are less than 10 hours of daylight. As a result, plants (essentially) stop growing. Some cool weather crops, if they are near maturity before this time, will overwinter and start growing again when daylight and temperature allow.
- If this is a fairly dry November, it is a good time to add a new vegetable bed for next spring. Articles to read: No Till Food Gardening and Growing Vegetables. Remember that water is always an issue when you live in an area with a long hot, dry season. Don’t make your bed larger than you can support with available water.
- Fall is an ideal time to add aged manure to provide the nitrogen that your leafy crops will need next spring. Apply 1 lb of dry steer or dairy manure per square foot of soil surface –OR– 1 lb of dry poultry manure per four- to five-square feet of soil surface. If there is straw, shavings or sawdust in the manure, apply nitrogen fertilizer before planting next spring. Alternatively, apply one or two inches of compost to amend the soil.
- Two herbicides, Clopyralid and Aminopyralid, have been showing up in some manures from pasture fed animals. These are herbicides used on pastures to kill broad-leafed plants but not grasses. Peas, tomatoes, sunflowers, potatoes, lettuce, and spinach are particularly affected by extremely small quantities of these pesticides. Question your manure and compost supplier as to sources of ingredients and testing. Organic products should be free of pesticides.
- Established berries can be pruned after harvest, but selecting the canes to remove or shorten is easier after leaf fall. See University of California’s guidance on berries.
- Peach and Nectarine Trees: To address problems with peach leaf curl and shot hole fungus, spray with fixed liquid copper around Thanksgiving. See University of California’s guidance on safe use of pesticides and copper fungicides.
- Citrus: Apply 1/2 lb of 7-3-3 mixed with 1 tablespoon Epsom salts and water well.
- If your citrus tree has been in a pot for more than three years, carefully remove the citrus from the pot, trim an inch off the root ball and replant in fresh potting soil.
- Turn off your automatic watering system when rainy weather arrives. But, if a dry spell follows the first rain storm, don’t forget to turn it back on. A drip system is the most efficient way to deliver water to your veggie garden. If you didn’t install one this spring/summer, now is a good time to rectify this.
- Clean, sharpen and oil garden tools and store them in a dry space. Steel wool will remove rust build up (wear gloves); some gardeners use wax paper throughout the year to wipe cleaned and dried blades after use to prevent/reduce rust. Drain garden hoses and hang them in the garage during the rainy season.
- If there is disease in your orchard or food garden, wipe or dip your pruners with alcohol (ethanol or isopropyl) or spray with a disinfectant spray after every cut so that you do not spread the infection.
- Fight critters with critters – build a bat or owl house. Bats eat moths like the ones that lay eggs on vegetables, eggs that turn into hungry caterpillars. Voles are a tasty treat for owls.
- Inspect crops regularly throughout their growing season for early problem diagnosis and resolution. Refer to University of California’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) site.
- Know what pest you are fighting so that you can select effective pest management strategies. Check out University of California’s natural enemies gallery.
- Good cultural practices (i.e., the correct location, light, water, pruning, fertilizer, planting date) contribute to healthy plants. Sanitation is an important aspect of disease prevention: clear garden debris and, then, clean and disinfect tools with isopropyl or ethanol alcohol.