November Gardening Chores

Waiting for me
Waiting for me

I don’t know about you but I’m blown away that it is almost November.  How is it possible that time can pass by that quickly?  My goodness, I’m falling behind on my chores and my to-do list is getting longer and not shorter.

The story of my life.

Here’s a list of a few chores you might want to consider for your garden/urban farm as November sneaks up on us.

  • Add 4-6 inches of mulch on your carrots, leeks and potatoes as frost protection.
  • Divide your perennials.
  • Harvest your kiwi and hawthorne berries.
  • Harvest your winter squash and pumpkins.
  • Plant perennials, berries and bare-root plants.
  • Plant garlic.
  • Protect your metal tool heads by rubbing a thin layer of vegetable oil on them.
  • Put away your hoses and tools; drain hoses first.
  • If you have cloches, secure them to the ground using stakes.
  • Sow rye and fava beans.
  • Check your outdoor structures for leaks and plug those leaks.

What’s the old saying? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? Or something like that…with winter approaching that old saying is right on.  Take the extra time now, while the weather is so-so; that way you won’t be out in a storm doing it a month or two when the weather is downright nasty.

ONE OTHER THING

I’m always looking forward, and as the days grow shorter I’m already thinking about the major projects I want to tackle in the spring. One such project is building a new aviary so we have room for the new quail we’ll be adding then.  I’m thinking I can get a jump on that aviary now, so I’m in the process of digging postholes so I can get the posts in the ground before winter.  If all goes well I can probably get the entire frame of the aviary up by November and that way all I’ll have to do in the spring is put the roof on and enclose it with hardware cloth.

Is there anything you can do now to make your big projects easier in the spring?  Just a thought!

A SECOND ONE OTHER THINGtown_708

Our local garden and farming center has a seed exchange, part of a national movement to encourage gardeners and urban farmers to share seeds so that heirloom varieties don’t disappear in this country.  Major agribusinesses are trying their best to limit the number of seeds by the use of patents.  If they have their way we will only be able to buy their seeds, many of which are not suited for particular climates and regions.  Check out your area and find out about seed exchanges.  If there is one close by, become a part of the solution and say no to the major agribusinesses.

Have a great day, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.

Bill

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A Cloche for Your Garden or Urban Farm?

clocheA NEW PROJECT FOR YOU

From time to time you might see me mention a cloche.  It dawned on me today that there are probably a few out there who have no clue what that word means.

For lack of a better definition, a cloche is basically a miniature, easy-to-move greenhouse.

ADVANTAGES OF A CLOCHE

There are many, but these are the chief benefits of cloche gardening:

  • Extends the growing season….you can plant seedlings a month earlier and extend fall harvest
  • Protects your seedlings from the occasional harsh weather of spring and fall
  • Retains heat and humidity, thus saving water evaporation
  • They are portable so you can move it from one planting area to the next easily.
  • They are inexpensive, the expense really dependent on the size you build and materials you use.

HOW TO BUILD A CLOCHE

There is no one-size-fits-all instruction manual for building a cloche.  Determine how big you want it, determine what materials you have and improvise.

We made our last one using a leftover sheet of clear plastic and some used PVC pipe we had around.  The pipe made a hooped structure and we just taped the plastic on to the structure.

We have also made them using wooden pallets…stand two pallets next to each other so they form a triangle…screw them together at the top….staple plastic on the pallets.

If you want to go smaller, use plastic soda bottles for cloches for individual plants like tomato starters.

If you have spare lumber laying around, build a frame using 1”x3”s or even 1”x2”s and staple the plastic on that frame.  It is lightweight and will cover quite a few seedlings.

BEYOND THE CLOCHE

If you want something a little bit more permanent then move up to a cold frame.  Build a square or rectangle out of wood, attach a clear roof on it with hinges, and again, extend your growing season.  And then, of course, after all that practice, you can really move up in size and get a greenhouse, which we are doing next spring.cold frame

BOTTOM LINE

You can spend as much as you want. I’ve seen cloches at gardening supply stores that cost sixty bucks but I’m far too frugal to spend that kind of money.  I make do with what I have.

I hope that gives you something to think about as you plan your gardening for next spring.

Bill

Priorities Before Winter on the Urban Farm

Replaced old blue tarp with one that actually stops the rain
Replaced old blue tarp with one that actually stops the rain

MASS CONFUSION

So I was looking at the weather report the other day and I noted we were supposed to have ten straight days of beautiful, sunny fall weather here in Olympia.  “GREAT,” I said to myself.  I’ll write in the mornings and work outside on the urban farm in the afternoons.

So I got my to-do list out and familiarized myself with what had to be done and then I began.  What followed that first day can best be described as “a little of this, a little of that and absolutely nothing completed.”

I was too scattered, pure and simple.  I had no direction.

Enter Bev.

Bev came home that same day and provided direction.  It just so happened that she was thinking about the urban farm while she merchandized stores that day, and she was thinking that we needed to list our “to-do” list according to priorities.

So that’s what we did.

We re-focused!

WHAT’S THE POINT, BILL?

Well I’m glad you asked.

The point is the old “forest for the trees” cliché.  We had lost sight of our primary goals and priorities because there was so much we wanted to do over the next few years…we had lost our way in a choking forest of desires and ideas.  I mean, we want to double the number of quail next year, and we want to increase the quail business, and we want to dig a pond and put up a greenhouse and…and…and…and….

Whew!

I had forgotten one of my own mantras…..start small….make small, doable changes…keep moving slowly with deliberation.

I want it all but I can’t have it all right now.

So suck it up and focus, Bill!

I need another one of these
I need another one of these

IMMEDIATE PRIORITY

The number one priority….it’s not even close to number two…is to make sure the animals are safe this winter.  That has to be done before anything else is considered.

The next priority is to build another aviary (or quailary as Bev calls them).

Everything else will have to wait until those two things are done.

SO NOW I HAVE FOCUS AND DIREC TION AGAIN

The weather is still cooperating and I’m on track.

How about you?

What are your priorities as winter approaches?

Thanks for stopping by.  I’ll catch you next week.

Bill