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November gardens can yield colorful veggies

Q. I’d like to grow some winter vegetables. Is there anything I can plant now?

Jeanne Hyduchak, San Luis Obispo

A. Yes, you can still enjoy homegrown crops by planting vegetables that like cooler temperatures. Seeds of beets, carrots, chard, onion, peas, radishes and turnips can be sown in many areas. Garlic may also be planted. Cabbage, broccoli, beets and cauliflower may need a head start to get established before winter. Instead of seeds, buy small plants of these vegetables.

As always, gardeners need to be aware of their micro-climate; if frosts are early and severe in your area, tender vegetables may not succeed. In coastal areas, it’s still possible to plant salad crops: lettuce, mesclun and arugula are good choices.

If you should decide not to plant vegetables in your plot this winter, consider planting a cover crop of clover, Fava bean, rye or vetch to enrich your bed for next season’s vegetables. (Large Fava beans are a delicious spring treat.)

November is also a good time for planting of biennials such as hollyhocks and Canterbury bells. In milder areas you can continue to divide daylilies, agapanthus, and iris. As the weather cools, plant spring blooming bulbs — narcissus of all kinds are good for spring color and will naturalize in many areas. Tulip and hyacinth bulbs purchased now should go in the refrigerator for six weeks before planting.

In cooler areas, begin to clean up for winter: rake leaves, dispose of garden debris and pull out annuals and vegetables that have finished their lives (disease-free plants can go in your compost bin). Finish your winter preparations by making sure the garden is well mulched. A good layer of mulch will keep down weeds and make them easier to pull when they do show their heads. It will also retain moisture if this is a dry winter, or help control erosion if big storms arrive.

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