November Gardening: Playing with Frost

November is here and with it comes the first frost for my garden. I live in north central Texas in USDA zone 7b with an average first frost around November 10.

But I always flirt with danger, hoping to extend my garden season for a few warm season plants. With the impending doom lurking with the first freeze, I will be spending my weekend preserving what I can for the winter.

What’s thriving in my garden at the moment:


Fall okra. No kidding. I planted okra at least a year ago, but it’s just now coming up. [soon to be killed by frost]

Cucumbers … another one waiting to be bitten by the frost… Maybe I can make a makeshift vertical row cover… I had bad luck with my summer cucumbers because the aphids and mites sucked them dry.

Of course my favorite volunteer Porter tomatoes, god love them, they are tenacious, if anything.


Tomatillos. My first endeavor with this plant. I had no idea it would go all over the place. It’s growing habit is more like pumpkins with how it spreads and takes over.

And the ever-resilient Swiss chard. This stuff is hardy and fairest of all. It grows in the winter, spring, summer and fall. It tastes the best in early spring and late fall. It’s frost tolerant to about 25 degrees, which makes it a perfect choice for my winter garden! It’s also delicious, bright and beautiful.


Hometown Halloween

Halloween is one of those holidays that, as a kid, you look forward to all year long. I remember moving to a neighborhood after college and looking forward to greeting trick-or-treaters, only to find that there weren’t many kids around. And they didn’t go to a stranger’s house, even if it was next door.

Halloween moved into the category of a reason “to party” as an adult. Then I left the big city and traded my zero-lot line home for a traditional neighborhood in a small town. Now married with a kid, I live on a street where I know everyone’s name, and their dogs’ names too.

Halloween has once again become something magical and full of whimsy. All the things I remember as a child growing up in a small town. My son, John, was adamant about being Mario this year. (I’m glad we had Fox News on … that always indicates that my dad is at my house.)

Here in my little town they do it up right. There are car loads and trucks pulling trailers full of kids, decorations and an abundance of children weaving through streets and yards.

My son is trick-or-treating at the across-the-street neighbor’s house – he got homemade sugar cookies. That doesn’t happen in the city. People will think you are trying to poison their kids, even if they live across the street. These neighbors are also retired teachers that taught science and algebra to me.

And it’s on! We trick-or-treat on something I call the “miracle mile” also known as Rodgers Drive. We can walk up our alley, cut through a neighbor’s yard and walk a one-mile loop and get all the good loot.

It’s a gaggle of girls plotting their next Halloween maneuver.  How much you want to bet that this basic scene will occur many times in the years to come? I’m glad I have a boy.

There are multiple generations waiting on the door step to give out candy because there are so many kids …

Not the greatest photo, but you get the idea… there are quite literally thousands of kids that stream through this cool  neighborhood. (We actually don’t live in this neighborhood, but we’re in walking distance!)

The intersection at Randy and Rodgers Drive … I wasn’t kidding when I said cars, trucks and trailers full of kids.

After our loop we end up back at our house and answer our own front door for the second wave of kids. Halloween is something of a marvel in our town. It really is something that looks like it was staged for a movie. By the way, we live in a place where we leave our kids outside to play in the street, which seems crazy in any place other than Arcadia.