Planning for the November Garden
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While the weather is holding in these first few weeks of November, I am going to focus on the outdoor tasks first and then move on to the indoor winter garden. We also have a trip planned to Moab and the Grand Junction over Thanksgiving week, so my time in the garden will be somewhat limited, though my list is curiously longer than it was in October.
Finishing the Hardscapes
Zada and I have four steps to finish up to the back yard and my "cobbled" stone steps need to be fixed in place. I was in such a hurry to get the rocks moved off the aspen that I did not spend enough time researching how to fix this pathway in place. Since these are rounded river rocks each step rolls the rocks out of place. I may put in stepping stones and then arrange the river rocks around these or look into using some mortar which I think I'd rather not do.
Finishing the North Facing Bed
A new bed on the north facing side of the house will be my outdoor focus in November. This area of the yard meets three critical criteria that make it the best next step: 1) It is close to the house, a big consideration when setting up permanent agriculture (permaculture) as the plants that need the most attention are right under your nose, 2) It is more easily and cheaply defensible against deer than other parts of the yard with existing fencing and the wall of the house, and 3) It has a lot of shade and one very sunny area, so it suits a wide array of plants.
Having already layered cardboard and mulch, the bed feels spongy underfoot. I am adding all the raked leaves on top of this and then some compost and finally another layer of mulched tree limbs. The coming winter moisture will add another critical ingredient for all those soil microbes to do their job over the winter and build some pretty incredible soil. I also have one other secret weapon; my sister, a traveling nurse, has parked her sprinter van in our driveway and as part of her rent is to pour her urine from her composting toilet into the bed. Urine is about the best soil additive there is.
The Indoor Winter Herb Garden
I have three test areas for growing an indoor herb winter flower, herb, and greens garden. The first is a plant wall I am setting up with some floating shelves pictured above. I will add more shelves, some on this north wall with indirect light and some below the windows where we get quite a bit of direct light in the morning and afternoon.
The second is another gift from my mom from last Christmas, an AeroGarden which I have been using since last winter. I find this is most useful to get plant starts going for repotting elsewhere. I did have a big stand of basil and dill growing in this last winter and it worked well so long as I trimmed it back often. I haven't tried to grow anything bigger as of yet because it works so well for getting plants going initially that it just hasn't made sense. I use it year-round as a plant nursery.
Finally, my sister purchased a big grow wall several years ago and is helping to get it set up in my garage for the winter. She says it is great for plants like bok choi and greens. Our garage is not heated so I think cool season greens will be our best bet. I am hopeful we will not have to buy greens all winter.
I also must rid my indoor fruiting plants from spider mites and flies they picked up while living outside this summer on the deck. The spider mites really like my citrus trees (key lime left, Meyer lemon right). I made an early mistake after reading that isopropyl alcohol would kill the mites and sprayed the Meyer lemon relentlessly. It indeed killed the mites but also nearly killed the plant. I have been trying rosemary essential oils mixed with water to some effect but have since added neem oil to the concoction which seems to be working on both the mites and the flies living in the soil. I will keep you posted in the November reflection post!
The List of Big Chores on My Gardening List for November:
- Having the pear trees pruned to allow for more circulation, sunlight, and fruit production
- Moving the mulch created from pruning the pears to beds
- Protecting aspen and fruit tree trunks with welded wire
- Finishing the cobbled pathway in the front by adding some mortar to hold rocks in place
- Finishing the four stairs to the back yard
- Completing the summer shade bed off the back patio and deck by
- Adding the rest of the cardboard
- Adding the rest of the mulch
- Adding the raked leaves on top of the mulch
- Adding compost on top of the raked leaves
- Adding a final layer of mulch
- Add Deer deterring plants along the new flagstone walkway by splitting and planting existing iris, yarrow, and peonies
- Cleaning and storing garden tools
- Taking measurements of decks, yard, and garden beds for inside winter planning
- Digging up Siberian Elm Seedlings (Every month of the year for the rest of my life)
- Maybe, maybe build a cold frame from straw and an old window from Habitat for winter greens
- Start my indoor winter herb garden
- Rid my house plants of spider mites and white flies
- Grow Amaryllis and Paperwhites
- Force Tulips, Saffron Crocus, and Hyacinths in the refrigerator for 8 to 12 weeks