Oh No! It's the Off Season!

It's late November, and it is the gardening off season for most of the United States. This is when the extreme southern parts of the country get a break for the heat and maybe they can grow some crops that the rest of us grow in summer. 

For the majority of us, it's cold and dark. The trees are bare and very little grows... although lawn weeds tend to keep going, much to our dismay.

What's a gardener to do?

Here are some ideas that can help you get your gardening fix for the next 3-4 months.

Take a Break!

There's nothing wrong with taking a break from gardening for a while. Most folks, myself included, have other hobbies and activities. Now is the time you can spend some time on these things without worrying about tending the garden. 

Some examples might be:

  • Winter sports like ice skating, skiing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, and more!
  • Indoor arts and crafts
  • Take a class - online, at a local college, community college, or check out your local county extension service. Learn something new! It doesn't have to be garden related, either.
  • Visit with friends and family
  • Exercise - be ready for gardening season
  • Vacations, anyone?

There are so many possibilities! Taking a break from gardening is good for your brain and you can return to it, refreshed and ready to go!

Houseplants and Gardening Indoors

Maybe your houseplants have been a bit neglected while you were working with your outdoor plants. Now is a good time to give them a little love. You could set up some indoor lighting to give them a boost, or repot plants that need a refresh. 

Take a look at the indoor hydroponics or aeroponics systems - so many are on the market these days. Last year I blogged on the Tower Garden, a large self-contained system:

If you want to start small, consider table top sized systems. You may have heard of the AeroGarden, but there are other brands available out on the vast Internet. If you're not sure you want to invest in these expensive systems, you can search for a used system for sale. 

BTW, these links to products are provided for your convenience. I don't have an affiliation with them or the company, and I don't get any income or benefits from providing these links. I'm also not recommending them. Just sharing information. 

Start Seeds

Depending on where you live, you may be able to start seeds for your outdoor garden soon. 

Don't just dive in right away - you need to do a little homework first. Start seeds at the right time and they'll be ready to be transplanted at just the right time.

Timing is important: Shouldn't I be Starting Seeds Now? 

Some seeds also take a long time to germinate and get growing. You can start them early indoors in controlled conditions to be ready to plant seedlings when the weather is right. Some of the longest growing vegetables include:

  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • Asparagus
  • Some cabbages and lettuces (if you want large heads)

There are quicker ways to grow these crops in your garden, but if you like a challenge, starting from seed is a fun project.  When you harvest a crop you've started from seed, you will feel doubly proud of yourself. It's a true accomplishment!

If it's not time to plant just yet, make sure your equipment is clean and ready to go. Purchase anything new you need. Read up a bit on starting seeds, too, especially if you haven't done it before. You don't want to be caught by surprise during the process!


You have time indoors to look things up, take classes, and read. 

Think about your garden last year or the year before. Did you encounter anything that made you wonder? (Why do my tomatoes develop a dark soft spot at the tip? Can I deter squash bugs better this year?)

Don't forget about your local library! You don't have to buy all of your research material, when you can borrow it from the library!

Planning for Next Season

Ah, yes, my favorite topic. Planning your garden.

Again, think about your garden last year or the year before. What would you like to do differently?  Things like:

  • What new crop do I want to try this year?
  • What crops were a disappointment? Should I drop them? Or try a new variety? Or try a new technique with them?
  • How should I design my garden differently? 
    • Crop layout, such as crop rotation within the available space
    • Companion planting
    • Make the garden look nicer - did I admire other gardens I've seen? How did they do it?

Here's my plug - I am putting the finishing touches on a garden design course for small plot gardens, typically those in community gardens. I'll be releasing it in the spring 2023 - it can help you organize your garden plot for maximum production and eye-catching beauty! 

Do you want an Instagrammable garden plot? The Garden Design Workshop by Till and Trowel is how to do it. (The image above shows one of the exclusive worksheets I've developed to help you plan out your garden.)


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