Senior Gardening

One of the Joys of Maturity

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The Old Guy's Garden Record

November 13, 2019

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


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

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:

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.


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.

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

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.


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.


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.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

A recent posting by a Facebook friend led me to a CNBC article, Kale is now one of the most pesticide-contaminated vegetables. It told of the Environmental Working Group's annual “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” listings. Kale now ranks as the third “dirtiest” produce item. After washing, the EWG's tests revealed that almost 60 percent of the kale samples showed residual Dacthal, a herbicide that is known as a possible human carcinogen. Various lower amounts of other pesticides were also present.

For those of us growing home gardens, such contamination isn't a problem. Most gardeners use mulch or cultivation to control weeds and the biological agent, Bacillus thuringiensis (BT - trade names Thuricide and Dipel) to organically control cabbage looper and small white cabbage moth worms.

While we rarely buy kale during the winter, I'll be buying organic if we do.

Items on this year's Dirty Dozen include strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, and potatoes.

Sam’s Club

Sunday, November 24, 2019 - Catalogs

High Mowing Organic Seeds 2020 catalog coverOther World Computing catalogWe had several catalogs arrive in the mail yesterday. I was pleased to find our print copy of the High Mowing Organic Seeds catalog. I set it aside to read later, leaving the rest of the stack for my wife. She later was looking through one catalog and remarked, "I think this one is yours." It turned out to be a Christmas catalog from our longtime Mac parts dealer, Other World Computing!

High Mowing Organic Seeds offers a variety of open pollinated and hybrid vegetable seed varieties. Their seed catalog is always well organized and beautifully illustrated. This year's edition was as good as usual. I especially liked their page (71) on A Conversation about Intellectual Property which explains the pros and cons a bit about plant patents and such.

I looked at our seed inventory and was surprised to see how much seed we have from HMOS. Currently, that includes Dagan Brussels sprouts, Red Russian kale, Dolciva and Naval carrots, Howden pumpkin, Winter Density lettuce, Rossa di Milano red onion, Abay yellow sweet bell pepper, Who Gets Kissed? sweet corn, Crimson Sprinter and Mountain Princess tomatoes, and Dwarf Jewel nasturtium. While we got our start of the excellent OSSI spinach variety, Abundant Bloomsdale, from the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, HMOS also carries the variety.

Rain Barrels

Rain Wizard 50 gallon rain barrel iconRTS 50 gallon rain barrel My lovely wife gave me a Rain Wizardicon fifty-gallon rain barrel several years ago for my birthday. It was an excellent and timely gift, as some of our growing seasons run very dry. Rain barrels seem to run cheaper through the winter months with as much as twenty to thirty dollars difference in cost over summer prices!

I noticed today that Walmart is offering the RTS Home Accents Eco 50 Gal. Flat Back Rain Barrel for $64.99 with free shipping. I have no idea about the quality of this item, as our rain barrel is a Rain Wizard, but the current price could help make it a big hit under someone's Christmas tree.

I finally remembered to open our rain barrel's spigot for the winter this week. Like lots of other stuff, rain barrels with water left in them can crack or split from the water freezing and expanding during the winter months.

Sam's Club

Thursday, November 28, 2019 - Thanksgiving Day (U.S.)

Rejoice evermore.
Pray without ceasing.
In every thing Give Thanks:
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Happy Thanksgiving

Friday, November 29, 2019 - Fedco Catalog

Our print copy of the Fedco Seeds catalog arrived in the mail on Tuesday. While I very briefly perused it then, I really didn't get to go through it until today. Wednesday was filled with getting things ready for Thanksgiving. My contributions to the annual feast were our butternut squash yams, green bean casserole, and Grandma's yeast rolls. Sadly, I didn't get to see the kids and grandkids yesterday, as I still may be contagious with whatever lung infection I have.

Butternut yams, green bean casserole, and yeast rolls

Besides missing out on some family time, I missed a great meal hosted by a daughter and son-in-law who are both fabulous cooks!

Fedco Seeds 2020 catalog coverWhen I finally got into the Fedco Seed catalog, I didn't get far before realizing that we will have a nice order for them this year. Almost all of our green bean seed in frozen storage dates back to 2014. While most of it germinated fairly well this year, bean seed doesn't keep all that long.

Before moving on through the catalog, I recorded that we needed to order four half-pound packets of bean seed from Fedco, and a couple more from Burpee. We generally grow six varieties of green beans each year. While I'd updated a couple of varieties of seed last year, they came in small seed packets from a new provider that turned out to have somewhat iffy germination rates on their seeds. And Fedco's prices on bean seed are pretty reasonable. Somewhat surprisingly, so were Burpee's.

Fedco catalog pages 43, 45The Fedco Seed catalog offers a good variety of open pollinated and hybrid vegetable varieties. I like that they attempt to show where their seed comes from, such as from small, independent growers or large corporations. Like High Mowing Organic Seeds, Fedco also has taken a position against harmful plant patents that keep seeds out of growers' hands.

Unlike many other garden seed catalogs, Fedco has chosen to stay with a black and white catalog. While one doesn't get to see great color photos of vegetable varieties in it, the catalog is probably cheaper to print and share and has room for lots more vegetable varieties.

Stokes Seeds Catalog

While I haven't seen any sign of our Stokes Seeds print catalog in the mail, their commercial grower catalog (the one you want) is now available for download as a PDF file. Just pull down from the catalog item in the upper toolbar of their home page and select "2020 Commercial Growers Guide."

Renee's Garden

Saturday, November 30, 2019 - November Wrap-up

November, 2019, animated GIF our our Senior GardenA2 Web HostingIt's raining like crazy as I write this posting. I opened the back door to look at and possibly empty our rain gauge. I didn't get off the back porch, as it was pouring. But even at a distance, I could tell that the gauge was approaching having two inches of water in it!

I usually don't write up promos for our affiliated advertisers on this site, but A2 Hosting is running quite a sale now. Their entry level service (1 website, unlimited storage and transfer) is offered at $1.98/month. That's an incredible price. Their larger packages, one of which we use, are also substantially reduced in price.

Moving on to wrapping up our gardening month, this hasn't been one of our better months. I've been down with a lung infection for weeks, so not a lot got done.

We did begin the month harvesting some lovely lettuce. Just about the time we used up what we'd picked, really cold weather took the rest of our lettuce despite it being covered with a floating row cover. And of course, that happened just about the time when an E. Coli outbreak was announced in most of the romaine lettuce sold in stores.

We saved a lot of seed this month, most of it still in the drying down, ready to winnow stage. Our experiment with saving Goliath broccoli seed got cut short by hard freezes mid-month. The broccoli does have seed pods on it, but I'm not sure they are far enough along to produce good seed.

Broccoli stems with seed pods

One thing I learned from this experiment is that you need to have more than one broccoli plant in bloom at a time so that cross pollination can occur. Our first broccoli that bloomed so beautifully did so by itself and produced no seed pods. I also learned that broccoli takes a long time to produce seed. The next time we try for a seed crop, it will be a spring planting where we can leave the broccoli in the ground until it matures seed, probably some four months later!

Seed catalogs have started to come in this month. Several seed houses note on their catalog request pages that paper catalogs won't be mailed out until December or January. So far, we have paper catalogs from Twilley Seeds, High Mowing Organic Seeds, and Fedco Seeds...along with a couple of others not worth mentioning. I also downloaded the Stokes Seeds commercial grower catalog.

One last thing to mention is that I published our annual list of trusted seed suppliers and also updated our permanent page of Recommended Seed Suppliers.

Burpee Gardening

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