This is a bit later than usual because I am sure, like many of you, are trying to figure out 1) the weather going forward vis-a-vis the garden, and 2) how to "do" Thanksgiving without undue stress.
[Mums blooming and they took their time opening up because of the up/down. Start off red and wind up red and gold.]
A BIG challenge to something that should be a comforting routine.
The weather is 'perhaps' going into what would be normal temperature ranges for the next 2 weeks. With that said, pay attention to overnight temperature projects. If the forecast is 40 or so - get your frost protection covers ready to protect tender plants such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. Lettuces and the root vegetables do not "usually" need protection, however I have seen Kale bitten by frost after a particularly cold night.
There was a common Towhee in the garden that we watched with sadness. It was blind in one eye and the other eye was not good either. It seemed to find the seed okay, but we knew it would not fare will. Did not see it after that.
One more critter. I have propensity for spotting an insect when I am inches from it! This praying mantis was no different, like close enough to get bitten. No problem here so I went and got the camera. :)
There is a collage of this gorgeous Moulin Rouge Sunflower further down this post.
Okay. Now, to the Gardening for November.
Somewhat the same as October. Continue to successive sow root vegetables, loose leaf type greens and herbs like cilantro, dill, and chervil.
Bay, Greek (Sweet)
Endive (and Chicory)
Garlic (only as green garlic)
EDIBLE FLOWERS TO PLANT:
Cornflower (Bachelor Buttons)
Jasmine Sambac (Arabian)
Marigolds, including Tangerine Scented (Tagetes Lemonii), Citrus Scented (Tagetes Nelsonii)
Sweet William (Dianthus)
GARDEN TIPS for November
First frost date average is around November 17th.
Frost in the Valley at the 1100 or lower elevations is usually limited to ‘soft frost’ where simple cloth sheets or paper placed over sensitive plants (or moving potted plants beneath patios or trees) is sufficient to protect them. Never use plastic covers as the plastic transmits the cold to the plant tips.
For every 1000 feet over 1100 in elevation the first frost day is moved forward 10 days. The possibility of hard (killing) frosts starts to occur, although at 2000 feet or lower this is still a rare occurrence.
Frost pockets in the Valley can surprise gardeners. As a matter of practice, if the weather forecasters predict an overnight temperature of 40 F, I prepare for frost by protecting my sensitive plants with cloth or paper covers This is because heat retention by buildings and walls dissipates by early morning (4 or 4:30 a.m. to dawn the temperature can drop 8 degrees plus or minus).
Frost danger continues until about mid-February.
Cool weather annuals and biennials can be sown every 2-4 weeks (beginning in August) through the end of November for a continuous crop through next spring.
November through January can be a ‘rainy’ season for the desert. You can usually hold off on regular watering if you have received a half inch or more of rain within 2 days of normal watering days. Make good use of your water meter to determine soil moisture.
If rains are heavy this month, in addition to foregoing some water days, you may need to put down Ironite or green sand to compensate for mineral bonding (which makes iron unavailable to the plants) due to both the excess water and the cold soil.
The best way to think of frost damage on your edibles is the damaged plant material is now a partial protective cover to the underlying growth.
As mentioned in prior notes, frost damage in the lower desert gardens is usually limited to 'soft' frost which is controlled by simply putting cloth or paper covers over the plants at night, or if containers, moving them under evergreen trees or onto the patio.
IF, however we get hard or killing frosts, of extended periods or days, die-back will occur even on protected plants. The reason is the radiant heat retained by structures and even the soil dissipates completely, leaving the plants exposed to too-cold air.
Whether the frost damage is from soft or hard frosts if the plant is still alive DO-NOT-REMOVE-THE-DAMAGE. Doing so risks damaging the growth still alive under the top die-back. I don't remove even dead plants until spring. I have found basil seedlings coming up under a large dead basil plant killed off by a hard frost.
Obviously we like our gardens to look pretty most of the time, but selectively resisting the urge to pull something a little bedraggled gives you, the gardener, access to earlier production of the warm weather plants because of their larger root systems.
From the book : “101+ Recipes From The Herb Lady” - by Catherine Crowley
A wonderful blend of herbs, lettuces, croutons and cheese. The beauty of this soup, besides its fabulous flavor, is the ability to vary the herbs, lettuces, croutons and cheeses for different flavors. I developed this recipe from Provencal soups.
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
4 cups mixed fresh herbs, finely chopped (I used Thai basil, cilantro, parsley, see note below*)
1 package spring lettuce mix (or your own grown greens)
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
6 cups boiling water (can use broth - but try the water the first time)
6 cups croutons (any stale bread diced will work too - some day-old nice artisinal breads would be great for this)
3/4 cups Parmesan cheese
Set aside 1/2 cup each of herbs and lettuces for garnish. Divide croutons and cheese into 6 soup bowls.
Saute shallot in butter for 1 minute. Add herbs, salt, and lettuces all at once and cook—stirring for 5 minutes. Add boiling water, cover and simmer for 15 minutes—stirring occasionally. Ladle greens and broth into soup bowls. Add garnish of herbs and lettuces to each bowl. Serve and enjoy. Serves 6.
*Traditional recipes call for sorrel and chervil or any combination you like - the Thai Basil has a tarragon aspect to it which mimic the chervil with a kick and cilantro's citrus back-note mimic the sorrel.
The left image is before the sun gets on it and the right is when the sun is starting to back-light the flower. The pictures were taken 5 days apart and you can see the flower opened more and the tips just starting to get a bit of a gold caste to them. That is continuing through today (November 22nd) with more of the flowers on the planting starting to open.
I hope you have a wonderful, safe and comforting Thanksgiving.
Be kind, be patient, take care of yourself and each other.
If you need some gifts for gardening friends in Arizona or USDA 9b my books are available through the links on my website.
-- Catherine, The Herb Lady
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