Does Anybody Handle November Well?



For most of October, I was a whirlwind of activity: harvesting, cooking, canning, raking leaves, planting bulbs.

But we're on the dark side now of Daylight Savings Time, and it's cold and grey, and there isn't much to do in the vegetable garden, and what I mostly want to do is to eat stew, find a nice cave, and hibernate until May.  Never mind that I still have 200 tulips to plant in the backyard before the ground freezes.  Never mind that there are still odds and ends that need doing, like a few final pots emptied and muscled into the garage, and the hose put away, and some dahlias and cannas lifted and put into tubs in the basement.   I'd rather be inside reading, thanks.

Of course, I'm too grown up to give in completely to my lazy impulses.  Even though there are 5 months of snow ahead of me, I am well aware that life is too short to spend 5 months of every year hating the calendar just because gardening season has ended.  Last year, my family and I took a trip to Quebec in January, and it was a revelation, seeing the way those Canadians deal with winter.  They get out into it.  They ski or sled or ice skate, eighty year-olds and eight year-olds alike.  They embrace it.

So, I embraced winter, too.  I got out almost every day at noon and ran when there was no snow on the ground, and snow-shoed when there was. I felt really, really good. Slush, chill, and darkness seemed like a mere trifle.

I'm sure I'll get there this winter, too.  But right now, what I mainly want is for somebody to pass the bonbons.


  1. November’s always been my least favourite month. Getting a puppy last year helped me get out every day last winter.

    I’ve still got bulbs to plant too! My one November plus: It’s pomegranet season.

  2. The same thing happens to me, it just hasn’t happend yet as we’re having an extended fall. I wonder if changing time back and forth (from standard to daylight ssving) is good. On one level doesn’t it tell our bodies that they’re off kilter, that the patterns they’re used to, the ruts they’re in are wrong?

    Or maybe I just don’t want to see winter on the horizon.

  3. Novemeber is no problem. It is February that makse me want to go out behind the barn with a shotgun. I really think we should hibernate in the winter. Or at the very least cut back our waking hours to match the daylight hours.

  4. I feel the same way. I was going to blog about it the other day but decided against it because it sounded a bit too whiny because I don’t face a long winter. But still, there is just something about the few days after daylight savings time ends that just makes me want to throw in the towel.

  5. I love November, my cool weather crops are in and it’s time to plant the second round aobut now. We’ll be harvesting throughout the winter. The weather is cool enough to do some of the heavy work that was postponed from summertime. These are the joys of a north Florida gardener.

  6. Though it’s sunny and in the 60s this week here in MD, I have to agree that November can be really ugly – December, too. In my garden it’s when there’s nothing much to see in the garden except dead leaves. By January I’ve put most of them in the compost pile and can see groundcovers again.

  7. I am a lazy slug pretty much year round – my favorite thing to do with fall time change is to go to bed an hour ahead (like my body is used to) and sleep in until the new waking hour – getting an extra hour or so each night.

    I prefer gardening during the cooler parts of the year with the fewer bugs (my yard is full of fire ants and yellow jackets) and less chance for sun stroke. The way to handle the weather is to go out and spend all your money on premium all weather clothing.

  8. The cold and grey really hit me in January and February. That’s when I want to hibernate. We don’t have much snow to contend with here – it might even be easier getting through those dreary winter months if we did have some snow sports to entice us outside to play.

  9. Snow definitely makes winter easier to get through. If we can go toboganning and snowshoeing there is something to look forward to. If it is just cold and grey and dirty, it’s just yuck. Unfortunately up here in the Great White North, we sometimes get the snow, but then it’s too darn cold to go outside, even with our high end outdoor wear. Believe me, even Merino wool can’t save you some days.

  10. I have spent the last 3 years living in Victoria, BC, and while it is a wonderful city, I have missed the snow! So we’re moving back to Ontario and we will settle in Ottawa after Christmas. Can’t wait to play in the snow again.

    While being out of the garden is a drag, there are good things about winter such as having the time to reread many of your favorite gardening books (I just posted my top 50 on my blog at and getting more into indoor sprouting and mushroom growing, both lots of fun!

  11. Oh, but I love November ! Cool weather makes raking, chopping, & toting leaves to the compost pile a good, sweat-free workout. Short days mean you won’t over-do it. Fall colors ( much as we get them here in the Valley), Fall breezes, anticipating bare-root season, pomegranates and pumpkins and mandarins (whoo-hoo !) and looking for potential wreath materials …

    Plus, here in California, the return of rain means that the pastures are greening up, the gallons of wildflower seed I tossed about are popping up, and I can turn off the irrigation ’til April at least.

    And best of all ? Both volleyball & Fall Little League are finished so I have my evenings back !

  12. Some of us Canadians don’t have to shovel snow all that often, but the relentless grey skies and bone chilling damp make us contemplate self-harm to escape the dreary winter! As I live on Vancouver Island my solution is to plan a trip to another island – namely Maui! The mere thought of my impending holiday warms me to the marrow of my aching bones.

  13. November is so tough, but I’m grateful that we got an extra week of October (some say September)during the first week or so of the month. Tonight’s forecast: Snow! Besides planning next year’s garden, I get through winter by cross-country skiing and baking (you need the former to do the latter!)

  14. I’m already in my winter slump. Which is not a good sign. I haven’t even ordered my bulbs yet – maybe I’ll be able to get some on sale!

  15. I can so relate to that feeling. This is my first read of your blog, and I am enjoying it with a cup of tea, and ahem… a tin of those cheap butter danish cookies.(bonbon substitute).

  16. I’m glad I’m not the only one. November is when I really need to do all those chores — put away hoses, cute garden table & chairs, plant garlic & shallots, stow the remaining tender container plants in the greenhouse — but I’m usually so bummed by the colder weather that I stall until early December. And I need to do those things because it will freeze hard sometime this month. Historically there have been years I have planted bulbs as late as Thanksgiving or early December, but more usually the ground is frozen by then.

    I loathe and detest Daylight so-called ‘Savings’ Time. WHAT IS THE POINT?! You lose an hour in the spring, when you really need it, and you gain it in the fall when you don’t. Maybe it’s middle age crankiness & lack of mental/physical flexibility, but it takes me weeks to adjust to that measly hour. Harder than jet lag from Europe. Really. Probably because during the DST months, I am always mentally calculating actual sun time, so in the long run I am never sure what time it is for nature.

    Why do we still do this? We have electric lights and by mid-winter the mornings are back to being dark for the little darlings going to school. Does anyone know why we have DST anymore?

    I will settle into winter cozy-up mode next month. I have to get everything ready for avoiding Christmas. It’s tough this year, since ‘they’ seem to be starting damned early. I heard &^%$#@ ads before Halloween. Grrrrrrrrrrr.

  17. It doesn’t seem quite fair to chime in on the subject of lovely November from southern California, where it’s prime garden cleaning, planting and bug watching season. In fact it’s a bit warm today for long pants so I came in to change into shorts. I do agree clock changing is a disturbing part of this time of year.

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