Keep a record of what you planted, noting which varieties you loved and which choices did not turn out the way you had hoped. In my garden this year, my most productive bed was a large trellis of ‘Roma’ beans, with a different-colored cherry tomato growing up on both sides.
Both beans and tomatoes were abundant producers this year, but the best part was the bounty of basil, carrots and lettuces I harvested from seed that I broadcast at the base of the beans. The beans created a shady shelter and a cool little microclimate that kept me in crisp lettuce, baby carrots and leafy basil all summer. I will definitely try to recreate that setup next summer, although I will do so in a new spot.
The main tomato I planted from seed this year was an Italian paste variety. The plants were easy to grow and prolific, but the taste was bland and lacked the acid I like. To their credit, the tomatoes were heavy, cooked up well, and were easy to slice neatly. Still, I am going to try a different paste tomato next summer.
I also grew a squash called ‘Serpente di Sicilia,’ a fun plant to grow for the three-foot-long zucchini-like vegetable. Its striking, pure white blossoms looked like hibiscus flowers. Alas, my rabbits liked the squash more than I did. I have to think about that one some more.
If you have enough space to move crops around, sketch a map of your garden so you can rotate crops and avoid soil-borne diseases. If your space is limited, consider using more trellises and other structures to grow crops up rather than out.
Stop watering trees and shrubs now. They need to go dormant. Spend the extra time choosing and preparing sites for any bare-root trees, shrubs, vines and roses you want to add to your garden. If possible, prepare planting holes before the steady rains begin and the soil becomes too wet to work. Do continue to water newly planted evergreens and perennials as needed.
If you did not get bulbs in the ground or in pots in October, it’s not too late. Nurseries, garden centers and catalogs still have a great selection. Narcissus and tulips are beautiful in pots and urns as well as in beds. Also consider grape hyacinth (Muscari) and other larger hyacinth.
If you crave color in winter and spring, sow seeds of wildflowers, alyssum, sweet peas and love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena). Transplant primroses, snapdragons, hollyhocks, pansies, stock and carnations. Poppy seeds and seedlings can go in the ground now, too.
Many of us still have harvesting to do. Pomegranates and persimmons are almost ready to pick, and guavas and olives are ripe, too. Pumpkins and winter squash have reached harvest size, and radishes, carrots, spinach, lettuces and other greens are enjoying the cooler weather. Tomatoes are mostly finished for the year, although a bed cover such as Reemay can keep some plants producing a little longer.
If you keep a year-round vegetable garden or want to, now is the time to sow seeds of carrots, radishes, spinach and lettuce. Garlic, shallots, asparagus crowns and artichokes are also available now at nurseries.
In areas that receive more than 20 inches of rain per year, University of California Extension recommends treating fruit trees with a dormant copper spray to control fungal diseases. Read label directions and follow them precisely. Good coverage is more important than the strength of the mixture so take the time to spray from all angles.
Remove dead limbs from your orchard trees and haul them to the dump or chip them for compost. Clean your tools with a 10 percent bleach solution when you are finished to avoid transferring any problems to healthy plants.
Clean up the garden to eliminate hiding places for slugs and other pests that can make your spring-planted seedlings disappear overnight. If you are still raking up leaves, consider saving some in plastic bags so you have “browns” for your spring compost pile. Make sure they are dry before storing them.
November is a busy month, with chores ranging from tidying up to planting violas and snapdragons for winter color. Next month the list won’t be quite so long.
Open garden: Napa County Master Gardeners welcome the public to visit their demonstration garden at Connolly Ranch on Thursday mornings, from 10:30 a.m. until noon, except the last Thursday of the month. Connolly Ranch is at 3141 Browns Valley Road at Thompson Avenue in Napa. Enter on Thompson Avenue.
Workshop: Join Napa County Master Gardeners for a workshop on “Indoor Gardening” on Saturday, November 9, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Transform a room into a vibrant living space with houseplants. Learn how to use color, texture and pattern for design and how to care for houseplants. The workshop will be held at the Senior Multi-Use Center, 2185 Elliott Drive, American Canyon. Online registration (credit card only) Mail in registration (cash or check).
Master Gardeners are volunteers who help the University of California reach the gardening public with home gardening information. Napa County Master Gardeners ( http://ucanr.org/ucmgnapa/) are available to answer gardening questions in person or by phone, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 9 a.m. to Noon, at the U. C. Cooperative Extension office, 1710 Soscol Avenue, Suite 4, Napa, 707-253-4143, or from outside City of Napa toll-free at 877-279-3065. Or e-mail your garden questions by following the guidelines on our web site. Click on Napa, then on Have Garden Questions? Find us on Facebook under UC Master Gardeners of Napa County.