November in the Vegie Patch

20 November 2013
Written by Kath Irvine | Images by Kath Irvine
Print Email

With only a few short weeks to go before summer is upon us, Kath Irvine guides us through the final preparations to ensure our summer crops are plentiful


The first open days have been fun, thanks for coming along. We've saved the world over tea and cake (although I ate one too many rhubarb raspberry cakes last week!) I’ll be here every Tuesday 9.30 - 2.30, until December 17th.

Ali has added her travelling medicine cabinet to the shop for those of you wanting vitality vinegar, herb teas and balms. Bundles of nettle root for planting, and bags of dried nettle for teas are also available. Nettle is a must have herb - rich in iron as a daily tea and magic for the garden - feed your tomatoes nettle tea and you’ll be amazed!

November in the Vegie Patch

Extra shelter is essential through September and October in order to get those warmer crops growing well - it's like having a big handicap in a race. (Not that we are racing - cruising we are people, smelling the flowers!) Without my cloches I would only just be beginning my zuchinni, summer squash, cucumbers and dwarf beans. Instead they have been steadily growing in their cosy house through crazy October.

You can create mini shelters out of anything you have lying around. They are only temporary so don't need to be fancy or expensive, but they do need to be robust. Here are my little shelters around my beans (sown late October). The soil had hit a steady 15 degrees but the air temp I knew would be all over the place so a cut-off black plastic pot held with sticks is just the ticket to provide a bit of shelter as the beans sprout. The wind can huff and puff but it won’t blow their house down. Even though the shelter seems small and insignificant the extra layer makes a big difference - just like putting a sweatshirt on!

The greenhouse toms are growing well and now it’s time to be getting the outside tomatoes in. This year I am growing an exciting collection of orange heritage tomatoes, another Mark Christensen inquiry into nutrient-dense crops. Orange is the original tomato colour and turns out to be the most nourishing, so I’m very excited to be growing on this seed for Mark and learning all about them.

To be on the safe side you’ll also spy a few reds in my beds - the tried and true Island Bay Italian as well as Bloody Butcher. Both are cold-tolerant and bomb-proof, so no matter what the season throws up I know I will have tomatoes. (Although, once I’ve trialled the orange toms it may be the end of reds in my beds.) As each season suits each tomato differently, it’s very smart gardening not to put all your eggs in one basket.

My usual advice at this time of year “Don’t be in a hurry, take your time and do a good job”. Plant a few tomatoes this month, and perhaps a few more in December to spread your harvest. We’ll be learning how to grow organic tomatoes (as well as kumara and squash and carrots) in the Summer in the Vegie Patch workshop on December 7th.

To grow tomatoes organically is a bit of effort. Preferably all your effort goes into your soil in the preceeding months (that's the secret to abundant crops.) It's important to remember that our bio-region is not the favourite growing climate of this South American fruit so we need to put in extra energy to make them feel happy and at home.

  • Seed sowing starts to slow up from now on in, just in time to free your energies up to care for your crops.
  • Another lot of salad greens and basil, either tray or direct sow.
  • Another direct sowing of rocket and coriander. If you are fans of these herbs (as I am) you must keep regular sowings going in as they are fast turnaround crops in the heat.
  • Another lot of beans (direct sown). I sow a few new beans each month till December to extend the harvest till autumn. Try growing a few shellout beans this season. Perhaps you are put off, not knowing what to do with them. Drying is one option (to use in the winter), but my favourite is to pod them fresh, then saute with olive oil, garlic and herbs and serve salad and good bread.
  • Stagger sow your corn up to December to spread the harvest.
  • Another lot of carrots, radishes and beetroot (all direct sown)
  • You can sow another cucumber and zuchinni if you didn’t get your successional one sown last month.
  • Remember to sow as many pockets of greencrops as you can – any gap will do!
  • Summer flowers can be scattered around now – cosmos, cleome, marigolds, calendula, alyssum, love lies bleeding, sunflowers. Don’t miss out on summer colours for you and the insects.
  • Sunflowers are hungry beasts, but totally gorgeous and I would say a must have for every summer garden. I prefer to plant them outside the vegie patch as they guzzle nutrients. Direct sow them for best results. Bird and slug protection is essential!

I’ll be planting out salads, kumara, parsley, tomatoes, zinnias, cleome, a couple of zucchini and a couple of cucumbers (to carry on from the ones in the cloches)

When planting out use the weather to your advantage – a baking hot day will stress out your newly planted seedlings, so plant on an evening if it's hot; or choose a cool overcast day (or even better a drizzly one!) Nothing waters like rain - its positive ions really bring the garden to life.

Don't forget about your compost piles – do they need a water? If so, uncover them on a rainy day. We’ll be making compost in the Abundant Vegie patch workshop. Compost can be so mystifying, but once you get your confidence it's addictive!

Smart gardening begins with Permaculture! This coming January, our local permaculture gurus Gary and Emily Williams are running a two-week residential Permaculture Design Course on their 50 hectare permaculture paradise. For those of you wanting to design your own patch in a smart and efficient way, I highly recommend attending.


  • Edible backyard Workshop

    Summer in the Organic Vegie Patch
    December 7 @ 10:00 am - 1:00 pm | $65.00
    Click here to book

    > Summer diary (December, January, February)
    Wander the vegie patch and potager and see what jobs I’m doing now, learn how to delateral, prune and tie up tomatoes.
    > Know your crops
    Growing kumara in the lower half of the North Island, success with carrots, bumper crops of organic tomatoes, pumpkin – for Summer eating and storing, the importance of heritage corn, companion flowers for Autumn.
    > Summer pests
    Organic solutions for shield bugs and whitefly.



Add comment

Security code

  • July in the Vegie Patch
    20 July, 2014
    Kath tackles the 'to prune or not to prune' question head on; advises on making good use of your July weeds and sets some mid-winter inspired garden m...
  • June in the Vegie Patch
    19 June, 2014
    Never one to let the icy frost settle on her garden tools, Kath Irvine sets a list of June jobs to give your vegie patch a wee boost during this chill...
  • May in the Vegie Patch
    20 May, 2014
    Enjoying the rewards of her toil during the summer months, Kath, forever with an eye on the seasons, discusses how to shelter your land from the winte...
  • April in the Vegie Patch
    20 April, 2014
    Are you scratching your head wondering what to plant in your Autumn vegie garden?  Well you're in luck as Kath lists 10 essential plants for a happy g...
  • March in the Vegie Garden
    20 March, 2014
    As the cooler temps slow down the growing rate of the vege garden, Kath reminds us what to do and plant in March to ensure yours is a plentiful winter...
  • November in the Vegie Patch
    20 November, 2013
    With only a few short weeks to go before summer is upon us, Kath Irvine guides us through the final preparations to ensure our summer crops are plenti...
  • October in the Vegie Patch
    19 October, 2013
    With the warm weather almost here,  Kath reminds us that October is get-ready-for-summer-abundance month, providing us with pointers to ensure a bount...
  • September in the Vegie Patch
    19 September, 2013
    This month in Kath Irvine's fabulous garden she welcomes spring, encouraging us to roll our gardens beds over and plant and sow like our lives depend ...
  • August in the vegie patch
    20 August, 2013
    Anticipating a spring in her step, Kath Irvine takes time to prepare, plan and look forward to the warmer months and all that means for the fresh-food...
  • Sleep in, light a fire, make a pudding!
    20 June, 2013
    Embracing winter, Kath Irvine shares some timely advice on creating good flow within the garden, plus preparing and planting your onion and garlic bed...
  • Prepare your soil
    15 April, 2013
    Kath Irvine likens the gardening journey so far to that of an elite sporting event where crossing the finish line is the reward for you & your garden ...
  • Autumn in the Vege Patch
    20 March, 2013
    It’s been a long hot summer but the first full days of autumn are here and as Kath Irvine points out that means preparing the garden for winter crops

  • Creating robust systems
    20 February, 2013
    Kath Irvine introduces 'robust gardening' as a smarter way of doing things - the more robust our gardens the better our crops, plants and animals cope
  • Green crops are fab
    20 January, 2013
    Our gardening guru Kath Irvine celebrates Jan and the New Year by preparing for the colder months ahead and organising her autumn and winter food supp...
  • The Colours of Summer
    20 December, 2012

    Welcome to the start of summer. Of course whether it actually is or not will remain to be seen, but it’s looking likely. This spring has been very rel...

MyMag this month...

...your magazine for inspiring stories, beautiful spaces, networking, sharing & celebrating community...

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

New Zealand


MyMag is your Mag! Subscribe today - it's FREE.  
Subscribe and receive our monthly newsletter keeping you up to date with the latest edition.