November gives us plunging temperatures, spectacular sunsets, and, if we're lucky, the first rains. This year's rains are early, with nearly an inch in October and another inch already this month. On the heels of one squall came this nice double rainbow over the vineyard.
Early rain facilitates the timely planting of cover crops. We dismantled the summer garden today, harvesting the last of the tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants, removing trellis and twine, and uprooting plants. Tomorrow we'll chop the residue and rototill the ground. When confident that more rain is imminent, we'll sow the cover crop, a mix of fava beans, vetch, and oats.
Although air temperatures are plummeting (reaching 32 degrees briefly around 4 a.m. a couple of days ago), we benefit this time of year from "thermal lag," the tendency of the soil to retain its warmth for a while. That's what facilitates germination of the cover crop, despite the cool, shorter days. And it's why patience is called for in the spring, when warm days can tempt the gardener into planting warmth-loving seeds into soil that the warmth has not yet penetrated.