Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Kale is a leafy green that does well in cooler weather. It is not bitter, is rich in vitamins, and is impervious to insect pests. Harvest at the "baby" stage when plants are just a few inches high or lightly harvest tender inner leaves for salads; pick the full-sized outer leaves for soups and stir-fries, letting new inner leaves continue to develop. Or let the plants mature and harvest the entire bunch.
November is the ideal time to plant garlic. It's easy and rewarding. Simply break up a head of garlic and plant the individual cloves, pointed end up, in rich soil about one inch below the surface. Each clove will develop into a full head by harvesting time next June.
To grow tender leeks with beautiful white stems, plant the seeds 6 to 8 inches apart in a trench. Once the stalks are the size of a pencil, cover with soil to protect them from the light. As the leeks grow, continue mounding soil until harvest time next spring. Do not pack the soil around the leeks and always leave a bit of the crown showing about the ground.
Until winter rains begin in earnest, continue watering containers, lawns, and ornamental beds. But reset your irrigation timers to deliver less water, as plants use less when days are shorter. However, until Mother Nature takes over, keep the hose handy and the irrigation system functional.
Select Spring Blooming Bulbs
Nurseries are full of bins of spring blooming bulbs now. Select tulips, daffodils, hyacinth, and narcissus bulbs that are firm, with their papery jackets still in place. Do not purchase bulbs with mushy or black spots. Ask your nurseryman if the bulbs have been pre-chilled. If not, place them in a paper bag in the vegetable crisper of your refrigerator for one month prior to planting. Chilling the bulbs promoted those lovely long stems.