17 Crops to Plant in November
Autumn’s end doesn’t mean the gardening season is over! Former organic farmer Logan Hailey has tips for 17 November crops you can grow with or without protection based on your zone.
The passing of autumn doesn’t mean the gardening season is over! For growers in zones 6-8, there is still a small window to get cold-hardy greens, garlic, bulbs, and cover crops in the ground, though some may need protection.
For southern growers in zones 9 and warmer, November is the prime planting season for cool-weather brassicas, herbs, flowers, and root crops that can’t handle your usual summer heat.
Let’s dig into the best 17 crops to plant in November based on your growing zone.
17 Crops to Plant in November
As you enter the winter season, a soil thermometer will become your best friend. Regularly checking the soil temperature of different beds and locations will help you gauge whether or not you can plant certain crops.
If you use season extension cold frames, row covers, raised beds, or greenhouses, the soil temperature is a much more accurate reference point than the ambient weather temperatures. Even if the nights start to cool, plenty of crops are still eager to brave the chill!
Also known as corn salad or lamb’s lettuce, mâche is a popular winter green in Europe but is lesser known in the United States. It is extremely cold hardy and actually prefers the cooler temperatures of November.
Seeds can germinate in soils as cold as 50°F and will go dormant in soils warmer than 70°F. Once established, the plants can handle a shocking 5°F and readily defrost before harvest.
Mâche was once considered a winter weed in corn fields (hence the nickname “corn salad”), but it is now a chic gourmet green with the durability of a wild plant. The leaves are slightly nutty and sweet, with a tenderly crisp texture that balances spicy arugula or bitter endive nicely. I love the pretty little mâche rosettes for salads, toasts, or braising greens drizzled in vinaigrette and nuts.
Few crops can handle the cold, damp, dim environment of late fall and winter in northern gardens. But claytonia doesn’t mind slightly waterlogged conditions as long as it has a bit of protection. Although they will grow quite slowly in areas with little sunlight, the plants reliably develop pretty rosettes that can be harvested just below the basal plate and regenerate for a second growth in early spring.
Also known as miner’s lettuce or winter purslane, claytonia is a wild edible green brought into cultivation for its succulent, tender leaves. The vitamin-rich greens are a special salad treat in late winter and early spring when few other things are growing.
If you haven’t planted your garlic, it’s not too late! Zones 5-9 can still reliably tuck garlic into the ground, but zones 3-5 have usually missed the planting window by the time November rolls around. Garlic is a unique crop because it operates on the opposite schedule of most veggies: you plant in fall and harvest in peak summer!
Garlic bulbs enjoy the cool soils of autumn, but they need some time to get anchored in before the ground freezes. On the flip side, too much fall warmth can be bad for garlic because it causes the young plants to exhaust their energy, sending up fragile shoots that will quickly die when the weather turns frigid. Planting garlic too early is one of the most common mistakes.
October is ideal for middle and northern-zone gardeners, but November can still work if you provide a thick layer of straw or leaf mulch to keep them cozy.
Order seed garlic from a reputable source and gently separate the cloves, keeping as many wrappers intact as possible. Optionally, soak your cloves in apple cider vinegar or a diluted kelp solution before planting to prevent disease risk. Always place cloves butt-down (roots down) and pointy side up. Space at least 6” apart to get the biggest bulbs possible.
Favas are an awesome cool-season annual legume that can be grown as a harvestable bean crop or as a cover crop. Favas taste like buttery lima beans and are usually harvested while young and green in early spring. The edible varieties tend to have giant seeds, while the cover crop varieties are smaller.
Fava roots form a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacteria called Rhizobium to transform atmospheric nitrogen into plant-available fertilizer in the soil. Whether you “chop and drop” them as cover crops or harvest the beans and compost the plants, your garden can still enjoy the added nutrient boost from the leaves.
It’s hard to believe that delicate spring flowers like daffodils, tulips, and crocus need winter cold to promote their vibrant blooms. Indeed, most spring-flowering bulbs are planted in fall, roughly 6 to 8 weeks before the soil freezes. Depending on the weather, gardeners in zones 6-8 usually plant in November.
I love planting daffodils along the borders of my garden to help deter ground-burrowing rodents. Daffodils (Narcissus) are poisonous to animals and help create an underground barrier for pests. Bulbs like ornamental allium and grape hyacinth make a gorgeous early spring pollinator patch for hungry bees and butterflies emerging from hibernation.
Often, bulb planting may coincide with digging up your frost-sensitive bulbous plants (like canna lilies and elephant ears) to store indoors over winter. Handle the root structures carefully, no matter what species you’re dealing with, because nicks or cuts can make the bulb vulnerable to rot while in the ground or in storage.
As you chop up onions for autumn soups and stews, you can also plan to get overwintering onions in the ground for the spring. This allium family root is surprisingly cold-hardy, but it’s important to source day-neutral or intermediate onion varieties that will form bulbs even with the reduced sunlight hours of winter. ‘Cabernet,’ ‘Candy,’ and ‘Flat of Italy Bulb Cipollini’ are great options for most areas of the US.
Generally, fall onions need 4-6 weeks to establish their roots before harsh frosts hit. If your fall has been mild in zones 4-6, November-planted onions should not have a problem if you give them a nice raised bed and a layer of mulch. Zones 7-8 can reliably seed or transplant onions throughout November.
If you’re new to onion growing or want a quicker, easier plating process, consider growing from onion sets. These baby bulbs are ready to plant, much like garlic, and yield quicker results of fresh green onions for winter garnishes or reliable bulbs for early spring harvests.
Also known as rocket, this peppery brassica-family green absolutely loves the chill! There are two main types of arugula: salad types and wild types. Both have the classic peppery flavor, but wild types are spicier and last longer in your refrigerator.
The seeds germinate in soils as cold as 50°F, but in most northern zones, there is not enough light to render any reliable speed of growth until spring. They are best covered with row fabric at the time of planting.
Flea beetles tend to attack arugula often, especially when growing under greenhouse cover, so be sure to protect them with row fabric, as there are not as many predatory insects actively hunting when the weather turns cold. The fabric also keeps the young plants warm enough to anchor their roots.
While I wouldn’t recommend direct seeding kale in the November garden, you can certainly transplant established seedlings into a cold frame or an indoor windowsill container. Kale varieties like ‘Red Russian’ and ‘Siberian’ are exceptionally frost-hardy and even get sweeter as the nights get colder.
In most zones, you’ll likely want to cover your kale with a low tunnel or a generous layer of row fabric to help it get established this late in the fall. Ideally, overwintering kale would have been established in late August or September. Still, the plants may grow slowly, but they will continue to produce greens until they bolt in spring.
November planting is much more exciting for zones 9 and warmer because the cool season finally offers a window for the classic autumn crops that southern growers usually have to avoid. These cool-weather veggies are eager to proliferate during the chillier temperatures and reduced pest pressure of late fall.
In warm zones, broccoli is eager to flourish through the winter. Aphids are less active, and the plants are less likely to bolt due to heat. You can seed or transplant broccoli any time in November in frost-free zones and use row cover to help young plants get established.
Consistent moisture and proper variety selection are key to successful broccoli. Don’t let the soil dry out, and select a variety that produces over a long period. ‘Di Cicco’ yields nice 3-4” central heads about 50 days after sowing, then produces side shoots throughout late winter and early spring.
Like broccoli, cauliflower craves the mild autumn weather. This brassica is practically impossible to grow as a spring or summer crop in really hot regions, but it can do remarkably well when seeded or transplanted in early November.
My personal favorite is ‘Romanesco’ cauliflower, which looks like a psychedelic conical broccoli-cauliflower cross. The swirly artistic florets have a uniquely nutty flavor and yield 75-100 days from a fall planting, meaning you will harvest the heads by February.
In this video, Kevin explains the importance of timing and the common mistakes in his San Diego (zone 10b) gardens:
While cabbage moths may destroy spring cabbage crops in the southern US, winter offers some respite. These brassicas are closely related to broccoli and cauliflower (they’re the same species, just a different subspecies!) and thrive in the same loamy soil, consistent moisture, and cool weather. Be sure to properly space them to get solid heads. Don’t harvest too early, or your cabbage may be “loose” rather than a firm globe.
For zones 9 and 10, celery is perfect for late fall planting. These finicky stalks love consistently mild weather (not too cool, not too hot) and regular moisture to properly yield. The soil should never dry out, or the celery may become stringy or bolt (go to seed) prematurely.
It’s best to start celery indoors in November and transplant out when they have two sets of true leaves. Plant 6-8” apart in rows 24-36” apart and have a lot of patience. Celery can take up to 150 days to mature and needs consistent irrigation for the whole time!
These beet cousins take off quickly with November plantings in southern regions. Chard germinates best in warm soils around 70-80°F, so I like to start them on heating mats indoors and transplant them out once they have 2-3 sets of true leaves. It’s nice to grow a blend of varieties or try ‘Celebration Swiss Chard’ for rainbow-colored stalks.
If you’ve had difficulty growing sweet, juicy carrots from spring sowings, try direct seeding them in November. Carrots germinate best in soils around 70°F and need continuous moisture until they emerge, which can take 1-3 weeks.
The chances of germination drastically reduce if the sun is constantly drying out the soil. Fluctuations in moisture are also detrimental because the soil can form a crust that prevents the seedlings from sprouting. To prevent these issues, generously amend the bed with compost, use overhead irrigation or a hose, and sow the seeds about ½” deep. Cover with a layer of row fabric and check it every day until seedlings appear.
Thin to ¾ to 2” apart to ensure you get robust circumference carrots. Sowing carrots too densely can result in spindly, thin roots that never get large enough to use in recipes.
Petunias, snapdragons, and pansies are just a few cool-season flowers that eagerly take off from November sowings in subtropical zones. Their tender foliage and petals cannot handle the heat of spring and summer, but they will gladly grow in containers, hanging baskets, or border beds during the fall. Most species enjoy an ambient temperature range between 45 to 65°F.
Snapdragons especially thrive when planted in November because the cool weather stimulates these young perennials to anchor their roots and produce a lot of foliage in preparation for early spring blooming. Although they will stop flowering when the weather heats up, snapdragons reliably return year after year in zones 9-11.
Although we often think of cilantro as a summer crop alongside tomatoes, this herb loves chilly weather. Cilantro tends to bolt and wimp out in the heat. To save cilantro for summer salsas and tacos, direct seed in November or December and harvest the flavorful leaves all winter. Preserve cilantro by freezing or drying so you can use it with your tomatoes next season.
Although warm weather will trigger cilantro to bolt, the fresh seedheads are delicately delicious. More importantly, cilantro seeds are what we call coriander! Fall-planted cilantro that bolts in spring also serves as an excellent floral resource for early-season pollinators.
This final cool-season crop is usually off-limits for southern growers unless planted in the fall. Fennel will bolt during the long, hot summer days, but it produces nice refreshing bulbs and fronds when overwintered in zones 9 and 10.
You can direct seed, but I prefer to transplant from cell containers. Be careful not to disturb the roots too much, as this stress can trigger bolting. Fennel tastes amazing when the bulbs are harvested young, thinly sliced, and seasoned with olive oil and balsamic in a yummy early spring salad.
For northern gardeners, November is too late for most crops to be planted outdoors. However, using season extensions like row covers, low tunnels, or cold frames, you can get away with late plantings of several frost-hardy crops like mâche, claytonia, and kale.
In warmer southern zones, November is prime time for planting your cool-season brassicas, herbs, and flowers so they can flourish without the pressure of hot weather and pests.
No matter what you plant, be sure to track your seeding dates in your garden log so you can replicate what works best for your zone next season!