Senior Gardening

One of the Joys of Maturity


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November 19, 2019

One of the joys of getting a bit older is having the time to putter around in the garden. Below is my garden blog. This site also contains sections of recipes and features about specific, and often obscure, gardening lore.


Monday, November 18, 2019 - Sage, Buckets, Bronchitis, and Jury Duty

Sage and daisies to sunroomBurpee GardeningI moved the last gloxinias I had in our sunroom to our dining room table yesterday. That cleared the sunroom for some sage plants I want to overwinter there. I don't return outdoor plants to our basement plant room anymore after somehow bringing in the INSV virus several years ago. But I do occasionally bring in plants to our sunroom when there are no other plants present there.

I thought I had five sage plants still outside, but when I began to transplant them to slightly larger pots, I found that one pot held two plants. Unlike trimming sage in the garden, I cut these plants back to just an inch or two tall.

I keep extra sage plants on hand as replacements for the ones we use to mark the corners and halfway points of our East Garden. In the tray with the sage were three very sad looking daisy plants. They also got repotted.

Sage is really pretty easy to grow from seed, but I just don't have the heart to throw away good plants. We've successfully overwintered sage in the sunroom before. The room isn't heated, so it gets pretty cold through winter nights. That slows the re-growth of the sage so the plants should be just about ready for transplanting next spring.

Buckets

AmazonI made the mistake of leaving my five quart galvanized bucket out in the weather a couple of years ago and had to buy a new one to go under our pitcher pump. Water in the old bucket froze, breaking out the welds in the bottom.

So getting our galvanized buckets inside became a priority recently. My two larger galvanized buckets (8 and 12 quart) were already protected, sitting upside down on our back porch. The five quart bucket had to be bleached, as it had a bit of mold in the bottom of it. The galvanized buckets along with a plastic five gallon bucket I use only for harvesting (no chemicals go into it, ever), went to our basement plant room for the winter. Our other buckets mostly got moved to the garage. I left one bucket on the back porch, as I always seem to need a bucket for something.

Bronchitis

Our Senior Garden - November 18, 2019My bout with bronchitis continues, keeping me out of the garden. I am feeling somewhat better as I continue to take antibiotics. But any serious outdoor work is simply out for the time being.

Totally unrelated to my lungs but still a hopeful physical sign, I was able to open and close a rather reluctant window in our sunroom this morning to take our daily splashshot. When closing the window in June, something tore in my bicep making opening and closing the window for the shot impossible until now. We'll see how the shoulder feels tonight and tomorrow.

While sidelined from gardening with the bronchitis, I'd hoped each day to find a couple of seed catalogs in the mail to review. Sadly, it appears the seed houses we favor aren't getting print catalogs out until December or January. I think their thinking may be that issuing catalogs a bit later than usual may push folks to place web orders, as seed houses seem to be trying to limit their print catalog distributions. While I order most of our seed online, there's a lot of joy in paging through a print seed catalog with a warm cup of coffee on a cold fall/winter day.

Jury Duty

I've been called for jury duty this week. It turns out that our county's age cutoff for the duty is 75.

I've not had to serve jury duty even though I have been called twice in the past. At those times, I was teaching in a very challenging special education situation. While not irreplaceable, having a substitute teacher in a classroom full of students with varied disabilities, and in some cases, volatility, seemed to the court to not be such a good idea.

This time around, I guess I need to be a good citizen.

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Friday, November 15, 2019 - Recommended Suppliers

2020 Catalog CoversI maintain a page of Recommended Seed Suppliers on this site based on our experiences with vendors, supplemented by ratings from the Dave's Garden Watchdog site (DGW rating). Each fall as seed catalogs begin to arrive in the mail, I publish my list of favorite seed suppliers that I'll use for ordering most of our garden seed. The page also has a listing of Others to Consider, sites that we order from occasionally, but don't quite meet our standards for a frequently used trusted supplier. A table of shipping rates is also included as well as a good source for trays, pots, and such.

Rather than try to list our favorites in order, these listings are in alphabetical order. Note that links, where possible, are to the vendor's print catalog request or download page.

Trusted Suppliers

Botanical Interests Burpee Gardening Required Disclosure Statement: Botanical Interests, Burpee, and True Leaf Market are some of our Senior Gardening affiliate advertisers. Clicking through one of our ads or text links and making a purchase will produce a small commission for us from the sale. We're also a consumer member of the Fedco Seeds Cooperative. True Leaf Market Fedco Seeds

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Our Senior Garden - November 12, 2019We had our first significant snowfall of the season yesterday. It waited until a little after noon to begin snowing in earnest, having blown flurries and freezing rain most of the morning. Our first snow last year occurred on November 10, so our current snow isn't uncharacteristic for this area. We ended up with just an inch or two of accumulation, but strong winds made roads slick with blowing snow. Also, temperatures have dived. While the sun is out as I write this afternoon, we have a single digit overnight low predicted.

Our gardening season is clearly over. I still need to get our garlic planted and our main bed cleared of now frozen plants. Daily high temperatures are supposed to return to the low 50s about this time next week, so I should be able to get some outdoor work done then. But it looks like fall tilling is out again this year.

During the morning hours yesterday, I was out visiting doctors. I had my annual checkup with my heart surgeon and followed that up with a trip to my GP, as I've had bronchitis for a week and all my homeopathic cures (kale soup, etc.) have failed.

We haven't received any more seed catalogs, but I did notice that High Mowing Organic Seeds has its 2020 catalog available for downloading.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Dead marigold plantsMarigold seed heads and seed drying on paper plateLike zinnia seed, I'm used to having lots of saved marigold seed. Unlike zinnia seed, I'd forgotten until today to pick some marigold seed heads this year.

So I pulled our now dead marigold plants this morning, picking off what looked to me to be the most mature seed heads. The seed will need to dry for a couple of weeks before being packeted and frozen for storage.

Other than avoiding hybrid marigold varieties which may not produce offspring true to type, that's about all there is to saving marigold seed. I will split the seed heads in a day or so to release the individual seeds for better drying.

Our marigolds this year all turned out to be of the brocade orange and yellow variety. That's just luck of the draw, as my big bag of saved marigold seed came from brocades, yellows, and other marigolds.

Marigolds

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Monday, November 4, 2019 - Best Photos

Our Senior Garden - November 4, 2019Our Best Garden Photos of 2019Early on each gardening season I start a new file of garden and flower photos that I like. Over the summer and fall, I add (and subtract) photos that highlight what has occurred in our garden plots. The file gets published each year early in November.

This year's Best Garden Photos feature now seems to me to run a bit heavy on what we used to call product shots in the photography business. (I moonlighted for several years while teaching as a wedding and portrait photographer.) I think that may be the result of a somewhat lackluster gardening season. Spring rains, cataract surgery, and a shoulder injury really limited my ability this year to do the gardening I so enjoy.

Other Photo Pages:

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Saturday, November 2, 2019

I went outside this morning to save some basil seed from our herb garden. A day or so ago, the seed heads that were ready to be picked stood out as they were brown. After a couple of freezes, all of the basil plants had browned out. I had to feel each seed head to try to guess which ones were bearing mature seed.

Still in a seed saving mood, I cut and composted some of our row of zinnia plants. I cut a bunch of seed heads and added them to a tray of zinnia seed heads on our drying/curing table in the garage.

If you'd like to try some zinnias, with your mailing address. Do note that our zinnias have evolved to being very tall plants, often reaching four to five feet tall. I'm going to order some State Fairicon zinnia seed for next season to try to bring down the size of our zinnias a bit.

Kale rows
Cleaning kale, drying lettuce
Fall lettuce
Lettuce drying

While out in the East Garden, I pulled and composted our cantaloupe vines and immature melons. The floating row cover that had been over the vines was in good enough shape that I rolled it up and stored it in the garage for future re-use. I also brought in two last butternut squash that may be usable.

After taking a break to thaw out my cold hands, I picked kale. While kale is pretty cold tolerant, the Tronchuda or Portuguese Kale had clearly been damaged by our recent freezes. Our other kale varieties, Vates, Rainbow Lacinato, and especially the Red Ursa, seemed to endure the frosts/freezes pretty well.

The kale is now filling our house with pleasant aromas as it cooks down with some bacon, garlic, and onions I sautéed in butter.

I also pulled back the floating row cover that has been protecting our lettuce. I was pleased to see that our recent freezing mornings hadn't killed the lettuce. The tops of some taller romaine lettuce that touched the row cover were a bit frost bitten. But the main heads of the romaines and some head lettuce were still in very good shape.

When done picking lettuce, I pulled the floating row cover back over the lettuce. With a couple of twenty degree mornings predicted for next weekend, I suspect our fall lettuce harvest may be just about over.

We have a bit of spinach growing in one of our narrow raised beds. It had looked terrible all fall, but has perked up with cooler temperatures and a good bit of rain. While this won't be our usual harvest of fall spinach, we may get a nice spinach salad or two or some boiled fresh spinach from it.

Depending on weather conditions, we sometimes garden late into the season. This year has turned out to be one of those years.

Main raised bed on November 2, 2019

From front to back, we have lettuce, kale, cauliflower, and broccoli for seed still growing in our main raised garden bed. Not really visible in the photo is a bit of spinach in the far raised narrow bed. We may get more pickings of lettuce and kale. The cauliflower is iffy, as the plants are just forming heads. And the broccoli for seed looks to be another learning experience (= more time needed).

Gardening this late into the season is a mixed blessing. We'll enjoy whatever we get out of this late garden, but it also slows getting our garden plots ready for next year.

Botanical Interests Burpee Gardening Required Disclosure Statement: Botanical Interests, Burpee, and True Leaf Market are some of our Senior Gardening affiliate advertisers. Clicking through one of our ads or text links and making a purchase will produce a small commission for us from the sale. We're also a consumer member of the Fedco Seeds Cooperative. True Leaf Market Fedco Seeds

Friday, November 1, 2019

Our Senior Garden - November 1, 2019
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Extended Weather Forecast
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November is a very important month for gardening. It's when we try to do our soil preparation for the coming season. Getting soil tested, liming, adding organic matter to the soil and tilling the soil make for a much quicker start to the next gardening season. Looking at our extended weather forecast from the Weather Underground, our ground may dry out enough to permit tilling some or all of our garden plots in the near future.

We'll also plant our garlic this month.

Beyond End of the Season Garden Chores, we'll inventory our seed on hand, work on our garden plan for 2020, receive seed catalogs, and begin formulating seed orders.

Burpee Seed Company

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