November is a month of giving thanks, and I have plenty to be thankful for, including a garden that kept giving all month long.
With many fresh ingredients available to me, I planned my Thanksgiving menu around what I had in the garden. Leeks, celery, chard, herbs, and eggs went into stuffing – two different kinds. Romaine lettuce and butternut squash became a roasted winter squash salad with apples from a nearby orchard.
Along with a turkey and ham that I sourced from local organic farmers, my holiday meal included at least a dozen ingredients fresh from my own backyard. To me, sharing the local harvest with loved ones around the table is what Thanksgiving is all about.
Here’s a look at my kitchen garden in November.
The kitchen garden in November
These first photos were taken on November 1, and the garden looked as good as I’ve ever seen it so late in the year. The frosty nights didn’t bother the fall crops, and the garden continued to supply plenty of fresh produce.
We ate lots of fresh green salads for the first three weeks of the month. Other garden-to-table options included peas, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and more.
At the same time, other parts of the garden were looking very autumn-like. The giant sunflowers had been picked clean of their seeds by the goldfinches. The fennel blooms, which comprised the featured image of my October garden update, had gone to seed and became a flavorful addition to homemade pork sausage.
The beautiful autumn weather prompted my husband and me to take a spur-of the-moment mid-week vacation day for one last kayak trip down the Iowa River. It was November, the temperature was in the 70s, and I was walking barefoot on the sandbars. Definitely something to be thankful for.
But then winter reared her ugly head. With snow and freezing temperatures in the forecast for the night of November 20, we harvested everything we could. That evening, as the snow began to fall, I was grateful to make a snack of the last homegrown kohlrabi. It was the sweetest one I’ve ever tasted.
We harvested several pound of food out of the garden that day. None of it will go to waste.
I assigned the leeks, chard, and celery to important roles in the Thanksgiving stuffing. The fall carrots went to the wine cellar-turned-root cellar, where they will keep for weeks. And we jammed the rest in the refrigerator to be eaten over the coming days.
What we don’t eat ourselves will go to the chickens.
I woke up on the morning of November 21 to find the garden buried in about nine inches of snow. Hard to believe it was the same garden from which all those pounds of food came just a day earlier.
The weather warmed up and the snow was gone by Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. I was feeding 20 people at my house the next day, and I was thankful that I didn’t have to dig my herb garden out of a snow drift. That afternoon, I harvested the remaining ingredients I needed for Rustic Herb Stuffing.
Yes, the herb garden is still going strong. The arugula, too. The greenhouse tent is up over the spinach. At this rate, I should have plenty to show you in my December garden update.
Meanwhile, in the egg garden …
Of course, I am thankful for the sweet little pets that provide me with homegrown protein almost every day. The cold weather means I won’t be spending as much time outside with the chickens over the coming months. But the girls are ready for winter; you can read about my efforts to winterize the chicken coop and pen here.
Egg production normally is down this time of year. My three older chickens are completing their annual molts and haven’t laid a single egg in over a month. But just about the time they stopped laying, the two new girls started. Marigold and Betty are providing a steady supply of blue and green eggs. I don’t know if they will keep it up all winter, but so far there is no sign that they are slowing down.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, so I am going to savor it (along with leftover turkey and dressing sandwiches) for a few more days before I start thinking about Christmas.
To the list of things for which I am thankful, I will add the readers who have followed along with this series of monthly garden updates. I hope you have many reasons to give thanks, too.
See you next month!