Garden, Plant, Cook!

Monday, October 16, 2017

November Planting Tips and Harvesting.

Dear Folks,

"Thyme" for the monthly planting info :-)

It is also harvest time for seeds.  Pictured are Egyptian Spinach, Roselle and Garlic Chive seed, ready to store for resowing next year.


It is harvest time for seasonal bounty from the garden including seeds for re-sowing.  Saving your own seed means regional adaptation to your backyard = stronger plants and probably better production.

Don't forget to harvest tomato seeds if you have some fall fruit production from your favorite varieties.  Tomato seed savings if a bit different method and the purpose is to have seeds that last for a long time.  Remove the jelly seed center of the fruit.  Place in a cup of water and squish around a bit, gently.  Set the cup aside to "ferment" for a couple of days.  It will look icky with mold on top.  You want that.  Then carefully pour off the top moldy water and start squishing/swishing around the seed/jelly.  You want to start dislodge the seed from the gel.  Then start rinsing, let settle, rinse again, let settle.  The seed that falls to the bottom is viable.  Get the water as clear as possible with all the jelly removed.  Drain and tip the seeds on to a white un-coated paper plate to dry.  I like paper envelopes for storing seeds. Label and you are ready to re-sow.  December 15th in a green house or inside a bright sunny window is a good place to start your tomatoes for planting out around February 1st for best production growth into spring.  You may need to frost protect after transplanting until early March, but the plants can get a good root start.  FYI you can use the same method if you purchase an heirloom tomato you enjoy - it must be perfectly ripe to get viable seeds.

November is when we harvest our Pineapple Guava fruit.  We have found they are best when they fall to the ground or just a tiny tug gets them to release.  They made a lovely jam last year.

And while the days are getting cooler, if the temperatures are still in the 80s, you can sun dry your vegetables, fruits and herbs. Make your own homemade dried bouillon - click here.

Grow, harvest, preserve, and use!  Repeat!  That is what it is all about.

November PLANTING:

When you begin sowing or transplanting seedlings, keep my chicken wire hats in mind to keep the birds and other critters off them until they get growing well.  Unlike netting which can catch small birds and hummers and keeps pollinators away, chicken wire lets the pollinators in, the birds have a physical barrier which tells them they can't get in there.

You can check out my short videos on using chicken wire hats here and here. 

Sow or Transplant:

Bay, Greek (Sweet)
Bok Choy
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage, Ornamental
Endive (and Chicory)
Fennel, Leaf
Fruit Trees
Garlic (only as green garlic)
Kale, Ornamental
Lemon Verbena
Onions, Green
Oregano, Greek
Oregano, Mexican
Tarragon, Mexican
Tarragon, French


Carnation (Dianthus)
Cornflower (Bachelor Buttons)
English Daisy
Jasmine Sambac (Arabian)
Johnny-Jump Up
Marigolds, including Tangerine Scented (Tagetes Lemonii), Citrus Scented (Tagetes Nelsonii)
Scented Geraniums
Shungiku Chrysanthemum
Stocks (Matthiola)
Sweet Alyssum
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. so 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 above, 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.

That is all for now, Folks.

Offline for several days visiting family.  If you ask questions, I will get back to you when I return.

Have a great time in the garden and kitchen!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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