Early Spring Planting-Three Important Factors

Three important factors should be considered before planting seeds in early spring:

Amount of daylight hours-In the winter the sun is weaker in the northern hemisphere and we have less daylight hours. If you plant seeds too early either outside or in a greenhouse, the seedlings will be spindling when they germinate. Once we have 10 hours of daylight (we currently have over 10 hrs), we can start planting our cold hardy seeds. So in Santa Fe, we now have enough daylight hours. But wait, there are several more factors we need to consider before we plant seeds.

Soil temperature for germination for different vegetable seeds

Soil temperature for germination for different vegetable seeds

Soil temperature-If you are thinking of planting OUTSIDE, forget about it, your soil is probably frozen so of course you can’t plant anything! Even if it’s not frozen, it’s probably still too cold to plant outside. However it will warm up soon. How can you tell what temperature your soil is? You’ll need a soil thermometer. I prefer a compost thermometer that is about 18″ long so you can check both the soil and a compost pile. A soil thermometer is invaluable, as different veggies like to germinate at different soil temperatures. Insert it about the depth of the root zone of the plants, about 4”-6″ in the soil to see how warm it is. Notice the chart above gives an optimum range for each veggie.  If you have a cold frame, hoophouse or greenhouse your soil is probably much warmer already. So are you ready to plant? Not quite. There is one more factor to consider.

Air Temperature-The air temperature is also important and is the main thing people think of in considering when to plant seeds. It’s too cold at night to plant most veggie seeds outside or even in a greenhouse without extra protection BUT there are some wintergreens that are very cold hardy, some even hardy below 32°F at night. Even in an unheated cold frame or greenhouse, the temperature dips below freezing at nights so if you have a one, I suggest you put some row cover (winter weight-.9-1.0 mm.) over your beds. If you don’t have a greenhouse and will be planting outside in early spring, definitely put row cover over it at night but don’t forget to check your soil temperatures too.

I’ve compiled a list of these very cold hardy crops that can be started in a greenhouse now if the soil temperature and daylight hours are good. Many of these cold hardy crops can be planted outside as soon as the soil warms ups in March. For the list go to my blog at: http://giantveggiegardener.com.

Lookee What I Found!

Yesterday I found all kinds of things!  Now I’m not the greatest at putting my tools away after I’m done with them. In fact it’s like leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for anyone to see where I’ve been. So I decided to walk around the gardens here at the house before the Arctic Blast comes in this weekend to see what tools I could still find outside. I wanted to do #9 in my earlier post of 10 Things to Do for December’.

found _lopers

First I found one of my lopers (my best one) hanging on a chair on the deck—and it was in plain sight. I’ve must have walked by it a hundred times and never saw it before!

found _leaf rakeI was wondering where that leaf rake went! Here it is leaning on the arbor in the shadows!

found_rake and apple pickerAnd on the other side of the arbor is a fence and I found an extension cord,  mini leaf rake and apple picker leaning on it (what’s that apple picker doing there? There are no apple trees up by the house!)

found_coffee cupAnd lookee what else I found! My favorite coffee cup still filled with coffee!  Yes that is a cup (the handle is on the other side). I was wondering where I left it cause it’s been MIA for a while. That will be fun to scrub out!

found_sawAnd then when I went to the shop I found the circular saw that I had at the house that mysteriously disappeared.  I took it back to the house so I can finish the greenhouse!

10 Things to Do in December

xmas clip reindeer

HO! HO! HO! Here are 10 things you can do in December for your garden. I wrote in green where I’m at with this list!

1. Don’t forget to feed your worms in your vermicomposting bin! They get hungry too! Also if it has been dry, give them a some water on a warm day. Don’t give them so much food that it just sits there and freezes. For an outside plastic bin, maybe wrap it with a water heater blanket or surround it with straw bales to help keep the worms from freezing. You try living in a plastic box all winter without insulation! For bigger outside vermicomposting areas, put straw bales around the perimeter to add insulation. Also put straw on top.  (I covered mine with about 8-10 inches of straw on top of everything and will check them in about 2 weeks to see if I need to add more food)

2. Reflect on what worked in the garden and what didn’t. What could you do differently next year? (Where do I begin? I’ll write more on this later)

3. Order your new catalogs. That way you’ll have them by January. (Done!)

4. Speaking of catalogs, go through those old catalogs and throw them out! (Done!)

5. Research on the internet new and different veggies you may want to try next year while you are waiting for your catalogs to come in. I’m always wanting to try something new. Start a list of possible veggies and add to it as you find more. You may not try all of them but at least you won’t forget them! (I started mine and keep adding to it)

6. Water your trees and perennials if you don’t get precipitation. We got a great snow in November so that let us off the hook but if Dec is dry, water later this month on a warm day. Forget about it if your tree has snow around it and the ground is frozen-the water won’t soak in frozen ground. (Since it snowed, I didn’t water-yea!)

7. If you feed birds, be sure you give them a source of water too. If my waterer is frozen, I boil water in a teapot and add it to my waterer to melt the ice. If you have bees, keep providing to them water too. (I check daily to make sure they have both food and water)

8. Take a walk around your frozen tundra (garden) and start to plan your next year’s  garden. Walking around when it is barren can reveal problem areas. It’s hard to ‘see’ when the garden is going on in the middle of the season with all the greenery. Perhaps you want to make a new bed or fix an old one…or maybe you could be a nut like me and add a whole new 1000 sq ft section in the garden Now that was a big project in 2011. Was I insane or what?! (This year I vow to finish the greenhouse by early spring.)

9. Organize your garden shed. Find all those tools you left outside-they’re  easy to see on the ground now that the the garden is done! (Still have a few floating around that I need to collect)

10. Ask Santa for some gardening stuff! Give them suggestions of things you want! (Done!)

Is it a weed? White Horehound

?????????

There is a plant that grows everywhere around here and I’ve always wondered what it was. Grows like a weed so to speak. I knew it was in the mint family as the stems were square but was definitely not a mint. I just ID it from a book, Weeds of the West.

The plant growing in my gardens is white horehound which is a herb. There are two types of horehound—black horehound and white horehound. Black horehound can be toxic while white horehound can be beneficial. They are easy to tell apart because black horehound has little purple flowers while white horehound has little white flowers.

Since ancient Egypt, white horehound has been used as an expectorant. Native American and Australian Aboriginal medicines have traditionally used white horehound to treat respiratory conditions. Some people make homemade cough drops out of them and some use the dried leaves to make a tea. They actually sell the seeds in Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds but around my place it definitely grows like a weed on its own without my help. I use to pull it out because it is not a particularly attractive plant and frankly grew where I didn’t want it to grow.

But since I became a beekeeper, I noticed the bees are wild about it with its small white flowers, so now I leave it for them. The US Food and Drug Administration banned its use in US made cough drop saying it has no proven benefit. However it is widely used in Europe and you can buy it in European cough drops, just not US made ones.

I recently had pneumonia and a dry hacking cough that would give me fits. The only cough drop that would help stop the coughing that I tried is called ‘Ricola’ Cough Drops’, which is a Swiss made cough drop. Guess what is in those cough drops? Horehound! Only I didn’t know about white horehound, or Ricola cough drops or what that weed was growing in my gardens.  I found all this out while I was recovering and on the computer a lot-how serendipitous!

10 things to do in May

No this IS NOT what my garden looks like right now-I wish!

NO, this IS NOT what my garden looks like right now-I WISH! This is the garden in early June in 2010.

Here are 10 OUT OF 100 things you could do in your garden in May. GET BUSY-9 DAYS TILL MAY 15th!

-Water, water, water–all existing trees, bushes, fruits and vegetables–we’ve had a very dry winter-everything is parched!

-Clean up any perennial beds from the fall if you haven’t already.

-Add composted (aged, old, cold) horse manure to your vegetable beds/turn over.

-Check/install/hook-up drip systems for vegetable beds. Get replacement parts as needed.

-Buy any last-minute seeds/or any vegetable starts you don’t have but still want.

-Buy those wall of waters for your tomatoes and row cover BEFORE you plant tomatoes.

-Transplant up any veggie you bought that is now too small for its pot.

-Buy any amendments, fertilizers and supplies you will need when planting.

-Harden off your plants before putting them outside in the garden.

-Fertilize with fish emulsion and seaweed any cool season crops you have. Start to harvest when ready.

-After May 15th, it should be safe to plant warm season crops-go for it!

OK- these are 11 things but like I said, there are probably 100 things we could do in the garden right now!!

10 more things to Do in February For the Garden

We may not be able to get out in our gardens now but it is time to get busy with things to do to get ready for the garden. March will be seed starting time and there will be lots to do before for that. I will be elaborating on some of these items over the next few posts as I see there is more info I can offer.

1. Go over your current seed supply. Organize it. Get rid of any seeds over 3 years old unless you froze them. Fresh seeds are essential for good germination. Older seeds have less success of germinating.

2. Decide which vegetables you want for this year and order any seeds you may need to get from seed catalogs.

3. Talk to your local nursery to see what they might be growing this year. I give a list to mine and they tell me what they are growing so I don’t duplicate. I prefer to let them do the growing, it’s just that I want to grow so many varieties that they might not have so I have  to start some by seed.

4. Stock up on any fertilizers, amendments, compost, nutrients, mycorizzial, and biomicrobes you may need for veggies. i.e- tomatoes, giant pumpkins

5. Check your grow light boxes to make sure they work. Get new bulbs if necessary.

6. Check grow heating mats to make sure they work and get more if necessary. Last year I had one and ordered another as my seed growing expanded.

7. Consider purchasing a seed mat thermostat. Last year I had to get one because the seed heating mats were running too hot and burning up the seeds before they have a chance to germinate. The mats stay 10° F hotter than the ambient temperature of the room so if we are having a really warm spring and the temperature is 80° F inside than the temperature would run 90°F in the seed flats-way too hot. The thermostat will keep the temperatures in the pots at whatever is best germinating temperature.

7. Purchase soil seed starting mix. I use Metro Mix 100 to start seeds. This stuff is great. The water doesn’t roll off the ‘dirt’ like many seed starting soils

8. Clean and sterilize any containers you plan to reuse for seed starting or transplanting seedlings. Use a 10% bleach to water ratio to rinse off the containers.

9. Buy any containers you may need for seed starting/transplanting. Most gardening stores sell up to 3″ in the peat pots. If you want a 4″ peat pot, go to Territorial Seeds. They are the only ones that have that size. I need them for my giant varieties cause they grow so fast. I also like the flats that have a raised lid. good for germination.

10. Read at least one good gardening book your interested in each month during the winter. I’m almost finished with ‘Four Season Gardening’ by Eric Coleman and just ordered ‘The Compost Tea Brewing Manual’ by Elaine R. Ingham.

10 Things to Do in January

Now that the gardening season has slowed down to a snails’ crawl, put your feet up by the fireplace, drink a hot mug of chocolate and relax! You deserve it! But for those of us who like to stay busy, here are 10 things gardeners can do in January.

1. Reflect on what you did in the garden last year-what worked, what didn’t and what you might do differently this year.

2. Get those new seed catalogs and start planning next season’s garden.

3. On a warm day tidy up your garden shed or tool area.

4. Sharpen and oil tools. Sand rough handles and oil them too.

5. Sort and organize seeds you’ve collected and older seed packets/ Get new seeds for packets over 3 years old.

6. Catch up on all the gardening magazines you have lying around.

7. If we get snow, shovel it off the pathways and put on your trees nearby-they will love the extra moisture.

8. If we don’t get snow, water your garden on a warm day.

9. Empty the hoses out so they will be ready for the next watering.

10. Prune and shape fruit trees-cut off those waterspouts now that the trees are sleeping.

And don’t forget to feed and give water to the birds.
Can you think of more things?  I’m sure I’ve missed many things we could do and would enjoy hearing what you will be doing this January.

So many things to do for the vegetable garden in March!

Time to Get Busy!!

March is an incredibly busy month for gardeners. So many things to do (or should do) that it makes my head swim. New garden sections to make, ordering my final seeds, starting seeds inside, starting seeds outside, transplanting seedlings, amending the beds-the list goes on and on and I love it! Soon my hands will be brown again from digging in the dirt. No wonder I liked to play in the dirt when I was a little kid!

Next I will complete the new beds, finish the area around the new garden, make two gates for the new garden section to keep the rabbits out. Then I will put horse manure as a soil amendment on all the beds both new and old. My trailer was so full, my Forerunner could barely pull it. I bet I have about 2000 lbs of poop in it!  The stuff I got is still a little hot (oh really? the manure was a little steamy when it was loaded!) but will cool down over the next 2 months before I plant tomatoes. I’ll use my really aged (6 months or more) horse manure, aged chicken manure and compost for the potatoes and fava beans that will go in the old section later this month. The vegetables I plant in May will get this newer ‘aged’ manure as it will have time to decompose and cool down.

I’ve decided to put the greenhouse on the back burner until the garden is in and then have it ready for fall which makes more sense anyways as it will be hot in June.

2012 Vegetable Seed Lists

2012 SEED LISTS

I’ve researched and updated the seed list for this year.  I created a legend with abbreviations for each seed/nursery and then put them at the end of each seed listed.  I also show which tomatoes Amy Goldman’s ‘The Heirloom Tomato’ book recommends which I use as my ‘tomato bible’! I’ve put this in my page section called ‘Seed Lists’  at the top of the blog for later reference.

Here is the legend:
AFN-Agua Fria Nursery (plants)-1409 Agua Fria Street/Santa Fe, NM/505-983-4831
SFGH-Santa Fe Greenhouse (plants)-2904 Rufina Street/Santa Fe, NM/505-473-2700
BH- Baker Heirloom (seeds)
SSE- Seed Saver Exchange (seeds)
TS-Territorial Seeds
JSKG-John Scheepers Kitchen Garden
KS-Kitazawa Seed (seeds)
WCS-West Coast Seeds (seeds)
CG-Cooks Garden (seeds)
TF-Tomato Fest (seeds)
TG-Tomato Growers (seeds)
TT-Totally Tomatoes (seeds)

2012 TOMATOES
RED

*AG/Pantano Romanesco-red/70-80 days-BH,TF(seeds)
*AG/Costoluto Genovese-red/78 days-TG(seeds)
*AG/Goldsman Italian American-red-BH (seeds)
Fireworks-red-50 days-TG (seeds)
Honey hybrid-red-76 days-TG (seeds)
Beefy Boy-red-70 days-AFN (plants)
Original Goliath/pio-red-65 days-TT-seeds

ORANGE/YELLOW

Jaune Flamme–70-80 days-SSE (seeds)
Aunt Gertie’s Gold-TG-75-80 days (seeds)
Lemon Boy-AFN (plants)-hybrid

BI-COLOR

Striped German-bicolor-super sweet-super sweet-SFGH (plants)
*AG/Gold Medal-bicolor-75-80 days-BH (seeds)
*AG/Ananas Noir-fantastic flavor, I’m growing 2 this year-BH, SSE (seeds) plants)
Virginia Sweet-super sweet, AFN (plants)

BLACK OR PURPLE


Paul Robeson-black/75-85 days-AFN (plants)
Cherokee Purple/80 days-AFN (plants)
Black Pear-70 days-AFN (plants)
Brown Sugar-BH- ?days
Southern Nights-BH-? days

CHERRY TOMATOES

*AG/Black Cherry-black/75 days-AFN (plants)
*AG/Green Grape-green/AFN (plants) or SSE (seeds)
Sun Sugar-yellow cherry-62 days-TT (seeds)-hybrid
Golden Pearl-GS-hybrid

* AG-recommended by Amy Goldsman’s book, ‘The Heirloom Tomato’

2012 VEGGIE LIST
BEANS-Rattlesnake bean snap OG (remarkably flavored pole bean)-SSE (seeds)
Emerite bean, pole bean-JSKG (seeds) ALSO
Tarbais bean pole-for dry bean
Fava Bean-for dry bean

CARROTS-Atomic Red-BH, Cosmic Purple-SSE, Paris Market-SSE

PEPPER-Shishito (Japanese non hot pepper)-AFN (plants) or KS(seeds)

SUMMER SQUASH-ZUCCHINI-Costata Romanesco (best tasting zuke around)-BH (seeds)
CALABICITAS SQUASH-seed from local grower

EGGPLANT-Fairy Tale (best sweet, no bitter taste and soft skin eggplant I’ve tasted)-AFN (plants) or TS (seeds)

FENNEL/FINOCCHIO-Di Firenze-BH (seeds)

CUCUMBERS-Parisian Pickling, De Bourbonne, Boothsby Blonde, Poona Kheera, Armenian and Russian- I grow cukes for either taste or which variety is best for different types of pickles-all BH (seeds)

CORN-again not this year (I’ll get it from our Farmers Market)

LETTUCES–Provencal Mix, Mesclun Mix, Buttercrunch, Yugoslavian Red, Santoro Lettuce, and Little Gem-CG (seeds)

SPINACH-Bloomsdale-CG (seeds) and Tyee

CARROTS-Cosmic Red BH (seeds) and

ARUGULA-Apollo-SSE (seeds)

BOK CHOY-Extra Dwarf Pak Choy-BH (seeds)

CHARD-5 Color Silverbeet-SSE (seeds) and Argentata Swiss Chard-JSKG (seeds)

PEAS-Dwarf Sugar Gray-SSE, Oregon Spring II-BH (seeds)

TOMATILLO-Green-70-80 days-SSE (seeds) or -AFN (plants)

JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE

POTATOES-fingerling types
2012 GIANT PUMPKINS
All came from private growers
895 Grande 08 (1016 Daletas x 1385 Jutras)
421 Cabossel (895 Grande x self )
1046 Grande 10 (901 Hunt x 1385 Jutras)

OTHER GIANT VEGETABLES
GIANT GREEN SQUASH-all came from private grower
340 Cabossel 11 which came from 903 Noel 07 (848 McKenzie x self)

GIANT MARROW-(like giant Zucchini)-all came from private growers
75.4 Wursten 09
62 Cabossel 11

GIANT TOMATOES
-7.18 N. Harp 09 (5.58 Timm x open)-private grower
5.416 N, Harp 09 (5.58 Harp x open)-private grower
Big Zac/TT (seeds)

GIANT PEAR GOURD-private grower
103 Cabossel 11 which came from 89 Scherber 10

LONG GOURD-private grower
135 Jacobus 10

GIANT SUNFLOWERS
-Titan-SSE, BH (seeds)

2012 EDIBLE FLOWER LIST-
Following is the list of edible flowers that will be planted or are already on the property:
Borage-great honeybee plant
Calendula-Orange King-BH (seeds)
Chives-AFN (plants)
Cilantro-AFN (plants)
Dill-AFN (plants)
Lavender (in existing different area)
Marigold-Lemon Gem-TS (seeds) this is the only edible marigold
Nasturtiums-Tip Top -CG (seeds)-prettiest nasturiums
Pansies-get them anywhere
Violas-get them anywhere
Roses (in different existing area)
Black Oil Seed sunflower (for the birds!)-WCS (seeds)

2012 HERBS-Following is a list of herbs that will be planted or exist on the property

Basil (Genevese)-new SHGH (plants), 
Lime Basil-new-SFGH (plants), 
Thai Basil-new-SFGH (plants)

Oregano-must replant rabbits ate it this winter

Thyme-exists
, Lemon Thyme-exists
,

Chives-exists
.

Dill-usually self seeds
,

Marjoram-new-SFGH (plants)

Mint-exists

Sage-exists
Lavender-exists

Winter Savory-exists

Lemon Verbena-exists

10 things to do in February for the garden

Well February is upon us and although for most of us gardeners it is a quieter time of year, there are still things we can start to do to prepare for this coming season. Here are 10 things you can do in February.

1. We haven’t gotten a lot of moisture, so on a nice warm day, water your trees and bushes this February. Don’t forget to empty your hose of the water so it will be ready to water again. (Nothing worse than a frozen hose). If we don’t get significant moisture, we should water once a month for established trees and plants and more for those we planted last fall. Of course if the ground is frozen where they are-don’t worry about watering frozen ground.

2. Go over your seed catalogs, make your lists of what you want to plant this coming season (go ahead-go wild-order more than you need-I do!))

3. Last chance to order seeds so you will be ready to start planting.

4. You can start some seeds inside-spinach, chard, peas and arugula to be ready to transplant outside next month.

5. How about cleaning, sharpening, and oiling your garden tools (after you find them)

6. If you do start seeds inside, clean all your containers with 10% bleach/water to disinfect them.

7. Turn your compost pile if it isn’t frozen.

8. Check your vermicomposting red wrigglers. Have you fed them recently?

9. If you haven’t cleaned up your old garden be sure you do. Bad bugs hang out in dead leaves and plants and diseases can stay on your soil in dead leaves.

10. Read some good books-gardening and otherwise!

10 things to Do in April in the Garden

Here are 10 things we can do in our gardens this month.  As the season commences, we will get busier and busier which means I’ll be posting at night when it is dark and I can’t be out in the garden! (oh yea-I work too).

1. It isn’t too late to get a soil test to see what amendments you will need for this year. I just sent mine out last week.

2. Time to add AGED horse manure (at least 4 months old) to your beds and dig it in. Don’t use hot manure-it is too late for that. Use hot in the fall so it has time to cool off and break down. Every year I add more and the soil gets richer and richer. Our soil is so crappy that we need to enrich it for veggies. If you can’t find any old, aged horse manure, then buy some compost in bags from your local nursery and dig it in.

3. Finish cleaning out your garden and trimming perennials if you haven’t already.

4. Make some LARGE TOMATO CAGES. I use concrete reinforcement wire because it has 6 inch square holes to get you hand through to pick tomatoes and it is 5 feet tall. Go in with someone to buy a roll if you don’t need too many cages.

5. Transplant your little tomatoes that some of you are growing into the next larger size and give them light.

6. Check your drip systems and timers to make sure they are in good working order BUT do not keep them attached yet because we still can get freezing nights. If you don’t have a drip system, look into doing one. I use the store, Firebird here in Santa Fe to get parts and their expertise on the subjects. It’s not hard to do and really saves on the water and your time.

7. Start adding to your compost pile again. Heat it up. Turn it over. Use HOT MANURE to heat it up or powdered blood meal which is high in nitrogen. I don’t compost in winter because it is too hard for me to keep hot but it is a good time to start one now..

8. Put CORN GLUTEN down in your veggie garden paths. It is a PRE-EMERGENT for controlling weed seeds and is ORGANIC. You can order it from The Feed Bin here in Santa Fe. BUT if your weeds are up already, it acts as a fertilizer. (It is very high in nitrogen and that is why it burns the seedlings but will also feed weeds that get established). Don’t put in veggie beds where you will be planting any seeds as it will burn any seeds

9. Now you can plant carrots, shallots, beets, lettuces, spinach, all greens, onions, and garlic OUTSIDE. I will still use some row cover to protect them at night.

10. Speaking of ROW COVER, now is the time to get some from our local nurseries. MOST of them carry it (but not Home Depot or Lowes-no big box stores). The nurseries usually sell out. I would get some heavy weight for now and a lighter weight for summer or get the lighter weight and double it up for now. You can also order it online. Just google: row cover.

That’s it-Get busy!

10 Things to Do in March in the Garden

Now is the beginning of our season for fruit and vegetable gardeners. I got my light boxes out! Woo! Hoo! Here we go! Here are 10 things to do for or in your garden this month.

1. Finish ordering your seeds or getting your seeds if you haven’t already.

2. Get your light tables and heating mats out and ready to go. Use florescent lights that are at least 3000 lumen. I use the daylight ones. They produce less ‘leggy’ veggies.

3. Start tomato, pepper and eggplant seeds indoors to set out later as transplants depending on variety.

4. Finish your garden plans

5. Get your soil tested to see what amendments you might need to add to it.

6. Put  horse manure that has been aged for at least 6 months on your garden beds and dig in. Don’t put on ‘hot’ manure.

7. Hurry up and finish pruning your fruit trees. Not much time left.

8. Spray your fruit trees with dormant oil before their buds turn color to smother any dormant bugs.

9. Water your trees.

10. Plant COOL SEASON vegetable seeds OUTSIDE on ST. PATRICK’S DAY.  Some varieties include carrots, beets, lettuces, spinach, arugula, bok choy, swiss chard, onions, brocolli, cabbage, peas, radishes, mustard, kale and other greens.

10 Things To Do in November In The Garden

I’m baaaack! Been on vacation all last week in sunny, warm Southern California down in San Diego playing on the beaches and up to Disneyland. Ahhh, 78-80 degree weather. How nice!   A much needed vacation..But now that I’m back there is still much to do before cozying up to a fireplace and looking at future seed catalogs that I haven’t gotten yet. I’m so far behind, I can’t see. So here is my list of to do’s that I haven’t done:

1. Finish taking out the garden-only partially done. Must dispose of all tomato plants (all now dead), all cucumber and squash plants. I won’t compost any of these as I don’t want to spread any possible diseases they may have had since they are very disease prone and if you don’t get your compost pile hot enough, you may not kill all the pathogens. Also rake any debris and get rid of it. Make the dirt pretty. Here I come city dump!

2. Finish my compost pile. Got to get more coffee grounds, leaves and fresh horse manure or cottonseed meal (to heat up the pile) and add to the partially composted piles. Soon I won’t be adding any kitchen scraps as they will not break down in the dead of winter (at least not for me (I’m not a worm farmer)-Deb F. I need your advice on making hot compost in cold winter climates!)

3. I already took off the drip system timers but need to take out the batteries and put them inside somewhere. I never drain or blow out the drip and never had a problem. Ahh, one less thing to do!

4. Oh oh! I think I blew it. We have already had freezing weather at night, so I may have killed my new little friends-soil microbes in products such as Serenade, Companion and Mycorizial but I’m going to get them anyways out of the garden shed and put them in the house where it is warmer. Hmm, wonder what closet I can hide them in? I know, the cat room closet! Nobody wants to go in the cats room anyways (where the kitty litter boxes are)! I wonder what these microbes do in the winter anyways out in nature?! Hmm, I’ll have to investigate that this winter.

5. Put everything from the Tomato Lady business in the garden shed. Oh yea and clean up and straighten out that garden shed while I’m in there. And set some mouse traps in case they think the row cover is really just blankets for them in the winter.

6. I’m going to get the pumpkin patch soil tested this year and see what amendments I need to add.  I’m going to add amendments to it and the general veggie garden as soon as the sales go on at the garden stores. Last year I picked up my Seaweed, Thrive, Yum, Yum mix, and Fish emulsion really cheap- right about now.

7. Need to make notes about what happen in the garden this year-you know, successes, failures, problems-things I can look at next Spring to refresh my memory. Need to make a diagram of where my diseased tomatoes were before I forget. Shouldn’t replant tomatoes back in those spots again for 3 years. I will be planting less tomatoes next year in an area that either hasn’t had tomatoes or it’s been 3 years since I planted there. It’s called plant rotation-but with the number of tomato plants I plant every year, it’s getting harder to find new places with in the garden to plant them or I may need to expand again next year.  Na, just plant less tomatoes..

8. Finish up my collecting seeds and sorting them. I’ve almost done there.

9. Do you believe this? I’m planting some starts of spinach and lettuce in a cold frame NOW! Just an experiment to see if they will do well or not..

10. Planning to build a small high tunnel to be ready for early Spring. Hope it’s a warm winter…