November Notes from the Organic Vegetable Garden, in Potomac Overlook Regional Park

Putting the Garden to Bed

By Certified Master Gardener Nancy Dowling

Cover CropsIf you come to the Organic Vegetable Garden today, you will see nearly every bed green with foliage. Does that surprise you? Well, it shouldn’t.

Remember in my very first OVG blog post this past spring I cautioned that the work of the spring garden started months earlier? I wasn’t kidding.

Our beds might be devoid of peppers, tomatoes, eggplants and beans, but they are absolutely full of cover crops! Now, in November, I can show you pictures of what that looks like early on. But that’s not all we are growing. We have spinach, kale, broccoli and kohlrabi, arugula and mini broccoli. We live in one of the best areas for vegetable gardening. It’s a year round joy!

This year, rye, Austrian peas, oil seed radishes, crimson clover and vetch are growing in our beds as cover crops, resupplying the many nutrients and minerals needed to make up for our heavy feeders’ (tomatoes, eggplants and peppers, among others) depletion from the soil this past year. The oil seed radish is a new cover crop that Judy Salveson researched. (Thank you so much for all you do, Judy!) It kills nematodes and should grow and then dissolve right into the soil by spring when we come back to tend the 2017 garden. This is what sustains an organic garden. So here are pictures of the current cover crops:

I’m also including pictures of our baby spinach, kale, arugula and our big broccoli plants that just love this weather. And why not? There are no bugs to contend with, the weather is crisp and cold at night and warm in the day…just perfect for winter greens and brassicas.

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I have to mention two other crops. Last year, I added alpine strawberry seedlings and Italian sage to the edible flower bed. Now see the (literal) fruit of that labor?

Alpine strawberries fruit in cool weather – spring to early summer and again in fall to early winter. Nothing is sweeter. The Italian sage will have beautiful blue flowers in spring. I can’t wait, but for now, our seedlings look mighty healthy going into their first winter.

Visitors are welcome in the OVG, but please don’t pick the veggies. We support Arlington Food Assistance Center, and that need never seems to end.

Happy Thanksgiving to all, and happy gardening!

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