August Gardening To-Do List fo Zones 9-11

August gardening to do list

What to do on your property in August

It’s the peak of the summer heat and this is the time of year that our gardens are feeling it the most.  However, there are still plenty of things to be doing on your property this month.  Remember, in subtropical climates… July and August are (and should be) a bit slower, so be sure to take it easy and stay hydrated!

This list is tailored for warm temperate and subtropical climate growing zones, but if you are looking for cold temperate lists…  Click here for USDA Zones 3-8.

In the Garden

  • Things to plant by seed:  squash, zucchini, pumpkins, corn, beans, eggplant, watermelon, tomatoes, and more pumpkins.
  • Harvest:  Okra, tropical spinaches (longevity, Okinawa, Brazilian, and Suriname).   You can also use leaves from cranberry hibiscus, South Sea Salad, and Bele hibiscus for salads. Butterfly pea flowers are in full bloom and can be used in salads or tea.
  • Summer Tea:  Jamaican sorrel (Roselle) calyxes can be used for tea.  You can also use leaves from olives, moringa, Spanish needle, cranberry hibiscus, and lemon balm for refreshing summer teas and tisanes.  Enjoy these teas over ice and add organic raw honey from a local bee keeper.
  • Mulch:  Keep bare soil covered completely to prevent water evaporation and protect microorganisms.  Add a little more compost and wood chips around fruit trees and berry bushes.  Add another layer of straw around garden veggies. 
  • Sunn Hemp:  This is the month to chop and drop your sunn hemp.  It can be buried for faster decomposition or left on top of the soil to break down.  Cattle and horses can eat it BEFORE the flowers bloom, but it should not be fed to livestock once flowering has started.

It’s time to start making tinctures and drying herbs.

In the Greenhouse

  • Start taking cuttings: elderberry, sugarcane, Barbados cherry, fig, etc.
  • Plant trees / shrubs by seed: Jaboticaba, miracle fruit, loquat, mimosa, moringa, etc.
  • Clean and sterilize the plastic pots used this winter / spring
  • Set mouse traps to control critters
  • Hang fly trap to control aphids, flies, and other pests

In the Food Forest

  • Harvest berries that are ripe: elderberry, dwarf ever-bearing mulberry, muscadine and souther home grapes, and olives. Finish harvesting mangos and early avocados.
  • Mulch: Apply mulch / wood-chips around the base of fruit trees. Keep the wood chips away from the base of the tree, because if they touch the trunk it can cause rot or bacterial issues. Wood chips will encourage mycorrhizal activity and strengthen the root system.
  • Avocados: Keep mulching and adding light compost around the base of avocados.
  • Chop & Drop: Time to harvest a round of moringa, legumes, and pigeon pea for chop-and-drop. Doing this now will ensure another harvest before winter months.
  • Herbs around fruit trees:  Start harvesting herbs to dry and make tinctures.
  • Harvest elderberries:  If you are making elderberry tinctures, teas, or wine – now is your time to harvest. Whatever you do not harvest, the birds will take care of for you. It is also a great time to harvest elderberry canes for cuttings and propagation.
  • Watch for fungal issues on leaves and apply organic neem spray as needed. This time of year with heat and humidity, fungal issues can pop-up overnight. Trees that are the most susceptible: sugar apple, sour sop, June plum, kratom, ginger, and coffee.
  • Continue planting fruit trees and berry bushes during the rainy season. For a tutorial on how to plant, click here…
  • Install a banana circle
  • Hold off on fertilizing until next month. Use this month to allow the plants to grow during the last of the rainy season.
  • Pastures: Plant wildflower seeds (in small batches) to make use of the last of the rainy season. Plant Timothy grass in pastures for cattle and livestock. Use 2-4lbs per acre if you are mixing into an established pasture. Timothy grass is high fiber and has great energy content (lower protein). It is drought tolerant and has a lower moisture content.

Reminder: Elderberry must be cooked before eating.

In the Shed

  • After heavy spring and summer use, give power tools a quick check (oil, air filters, and clean off exteriors).
  • Check mouse traps and keep animal feed in sealed containers.
  • Give cutting tools a good cleaning (using rubbing alcohol) and oil afterwards to prevent rust.
  • Sweep and clean out cluttered areas. Spend time working in the shade.

In the Chicken Coop

  • Chickens:  Some of the early spring chickens will start laying soon. Once the first egg has appeared, switch chickens over to a layer feed and/or provide supplemental calcium.
  • Harvest comfrey and feed to chickens, horses, goats, and cattle.
  • Quail:  Mix apple cider vinegar and honey with their water once a week. Pick fresh flowers and grass seed heads to put inside their coop and nesting area. This is a great time to provide supplemental protein using meal worms and small crickets.
  • Deworm: Use 1 tablespoon of Basic H in a 5 gallon waterer (1tsp per gal) for chickens. Add 1.5 cups to a 100gal waterer basin for cattle and horses. Available in bulk (much cheeper for farm use) This should be their only water source for two days.
  • Coop clean out: On a sunny day with a breeze, clean out the coop in the morning. Use Basic H organic cleaner and spray everything out. Leave the coop open all day to dry it out with good airflow. Clean out all waterers and feeders using a bleach solution.
  • Add wood ash to the dustbath to help prevent and treat lice and mites.
  • CLICK HERE for extra tips on keeping chickens cool during hot summer months.
Chickens eating a ground cover of wheatgrass, radish, and clover.

Around the House

  • Keep South and West facing shades closed during the day time in order to block out the hot sun.
  • Open up the windows on cooler nights to help air out the house and let in fresh air.
  • Replace your HVAC filters
  • Check batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Wash windows (inside and out). Use a product like “Invisible Glass” to avoid streaks.
  • Apply UV protectant to your recreational vehicles (boats, car interiors, RV’s, decals, etc.
  • Spray tire shine and protectant on vehicle and trailer tires to prevent sun damage
  • Give houseplants a good fertilization and shower to clean off leaves
Add kid-friendly elements, hobbit holes, and fairies to the perennial flower bed.

In the Perennial Flower Beds

  • Dead-heading: Cut back spent flowers in order to get a second bloom. Spent flower heads can be fed to chickens or composted.
  • Cut back any spent annual flowers and start planting new cosmos, zinnias, etc. Plant a little at a time to prolong your blooming season.
  • Take cuttings of cassava, Mexican Sunflower, chaya, etc.
  • Add extra wood chips to areas that are in full sun in order to protect soil health and microbial activity
  • Bring cut flowers indoors and share with neighbors, especially those who are shut-ins or elderly
  • Find / create garden activities that involve kids.
  • Annuals: If you want annual cut flowers (cosmos, zinnia, sunflower, celosa, etc for Thanksgiving, starting planting a few seeds per week over the next month. If you do this, then you’ll have lots of fresh flowers this fall.
Kids picking flowers at the Blue River Forest Experience in Overland Park, KS. This organization hosts after school nature activities and summer camps.

Comment Below and let us know what YOU are doing this month in your garden.  

If this list was helpful to you, consider sharing it on social media or sending to friends who may benefit from it as well.

We’ll see you in the garden!

LOOKING FOR THE AUGUST LIST FOR COOLER CLIMATES? CLICK HERE

August Gardening To-Do List for Zones 3-8

August gardening to do list

What to do on your Property in August – Cold Temperate Climates

It’s the peak of the summer heat and this is the time of year that our gardens are feeling it the most.  However, there are still plenty of things to be doing on your property this month.  This list is tailored for cold temperate climate growing zones, but if you are looking for warm temperate or sub-tropical growing zone lists CLICK HERE.

In the Garden

  • Things to plant by seed:  beets, carrots, radishes, and turnips.
  • Fall greens:  In order to stagger your harvest times later in the fall, consider planting smaller amounts of fall greens (salad mixes, kale, etc.) every other week.  The same can be done with beets and radishes.
  • Brassicas:   Plant broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower by seed or transplants.  Keep them well-watered (1″ per week) as they get established and mulch with straw around the base to cover the soil and prevent water evaporation.
  • Harvest:  tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and other night shades.  Prop up plants as needed to provide support.  
  • Mulch:  Keep bare soil covered completely to prevent water evaporation and protect microorganisms.  Add a little more compost and wood chips around fruit trees and berry bushes.  Add another layer of straw around garden veggies.  
  • Compost application:  Add fresh organic compost to strawberry patch (thin them while you apply compost).  You can also add compost to bramble canes (blackberries and raspberries) to improve next years harvest.

It’s time to start making tinctures and drying herbs.

In the Greenhouse

  • We are finished with the “greenhouse” season, but if you have a shade cloth, you can actually open up all the windows now and put the shade cloth over the top. This will allow you to start micro-greens and other later season veggie starts. If using a shade cloth, use the opened greenhouse for your indoor tropical plants to give them a season outdoors. Just be sure to pay attention to your watering!
  • Clean and sterilize the plastic pots used this winter / spring
  • Set mouse traps to control critters
  • Hang fly trap to control aphids, flies, and other pests

In the Food Forest

  • Harvest berries that are ripe: goji, elderberry, blackberry, raspberry, etc.
  • Mulch: Apply mulch / wood-chips around the base of fruit trees. Keep the wood chips away from the base of the tree, because if they touch the trunk it can cause rot or bacterial issues. Wood chips will encourage mycorrhizal activity and strengthen the root system.
  • Herbs around fruit trees:  Start harvesting herbs to dry and make tinctures, harvest fruit as they are ripe and remove those that fall to the ground. Fallen fruit calls in the pests… So feed to chickens or add to the compost pile.
  • Harvest elderberries:  If you are making elderberry tinctures, teas, or wine – now is your time to harvest. Whatever you do not harvest, the birds will take care of for you. It is also a great time to harvest elderberry canes for cuttings and propagation.
  • Watch for fungal issues on leaves and apply organic neem spray as needed.
  • Plant late summer ground covers in any “bare spots” around the forest. Consider things like daikon radish or crimson clover. Water the first 10-12 days until established.
  • Wait to plant new fruit trees and berry bushes until next month, when the heat dials down a few notches.

Reminder: Elderberry must be cooked before eating.

In the Shed

  • After heavy spring and summer use, give power tools a quick check (oil, air filters, and clean off exteriors).
  • Check mouse traps and keep animal feed in sealed containers.
  • Give cutting tools a good cleaning (using rubbing alcohol) and oil afterwards to prevent rust.

In the Chicken Coop

  • Chickens:  Some of the early spring chickens will start laying soon. Once the first egg has appeared, switch chickens over to a layer feed and/or provide supplemental calcium.
  • Harvest comfrey and feed to chickens, horses, goats, and cattle.
  • Quail:  Mix apple cider vinegar and honey with their water once a week. Pick fresh flowers and grass seed heads to put inside their coop and nesting area. This is a great time to provide supplemental protein using meal worms and small crickets.
  • Deworm: Use 1 tablespoon of Basic H in a 5 gallon waterer (1tsp per gal) for chickens. Add 1.5 cups to a 100gal waterer basin for cattle and horses. Available in bulk (much cheeper for farm use) This should be their only water source for two days.
  • Coop clean out: On a sunny day with a breeze, clean out the coop in the morning. Use Basic H organic cleaner and spray everything out. Leave the coop open all day to dry it out with good airflow. Clean out all waterers and feeders using a bleach solution.
  • Add wood ash to the dustbath to help prevent and treat lice and mites.
  • CLICK HERE for extra tips on keeping chickens cool during hot summer months.
Chickens eating a ground cover of wheatgrass, radish, and clover.

Around the House

  • Keep South and West facing shades closed during the day time in order to block out the hot sun.
  • Open up the windows on cooler nights to help air out the house and let in fresh air.
  • Replace your HVAC filters
  • Check batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Wash windows (inside and out). Use a product like “Invisible Glass” to avoid streaks.
  • Clean outdoor windows and doors (I use Basic H for this)
  • Apply UV protectant to your recreational vehicles (boats, car interiors, RV’s, decals, etc.
  • Spray tire shine and protectant on vehicle and trailer tires to prevent sun damage
  • Give houseplants a good fertilization and shower to clean off leaves
Add kid-friendly elements, hobbit holes, and fairies to the perennial flower bed.

In the Perennial Flower Beds

  • Dead-heading: Cut back spent flowers in order to get a second bloom. Spent flower heads can be fed to chickens or composted.
  • Plant seeds of larkspur, holly hocks, and poppies for next year
  • Add extra wood chips to areas that are in full sun in order to protect soil health and microbial activity
  • Bring cut flowers indoors and share with neighbors, especially those who are shut-ins or elderly
  • Find / create garden activities that involve kids.
Kids picking flowers at the Blue River Forest Experience in Overland Park, KS. This organization hosts after school nature activities and summer camps.

We hope this gardening list was helpful for you! Enjoy some much needed time outdoors and we’ll see you in the garden.

LOOKING FOR THE AUGUST LIST FOR WARMER CLIMATES? CLICK HERE

PLEASE SHARE THIS ARTICLE WITH THOSE WHO WOULD FIND IT HELPFUL!

What to Plant Under a Walnut Tree

Black Walnut Tree Guild for Kansas City

One of the most challenging trees to grow under in much of the US is the walnut tree.  The black walnut tree produces a substance called juglone, which prevents many species from growing under the tree canopy.  If you have one in your yard, you may have noticed that grass is nearly impossible to grow under it.  After living in the Midwest for 15 years, I am well acquainted with this struggle, but also have a few keys on how to be productive in the midst of the challenges of juglone.   The highest concentrations are in the shell and hull of the nuts, and the highest concentration in the soil is often found around 15-20 feet from the tree.  The toxins can be found nearly 80 feet from the center of the tree on older species.  Because of this substance, it is important to not only identify what can grow around the tree, but also what will create a beneficial, symbiotic relationship with the tree to improve the system.   Which is why we have created this list of what to plant under a walnut tree.

Adaptations of this guild can be used in other regions as well with species that are slightly more suitable for your area.

Permaculture Meets Fitness!?

This particular walnut guild has been designed specifically to benefit the local ecosystem, but with the purpose in mind of serving those who are into a fitness based lifestyle.  This guild was originally installed at a K-12 school as a way to help benefit their gym class and sports programs.  These plants have high density nutrients and multiple levels of application for fitness recovery and active lifestyles.

Just imagine, if you can tailor a garden to compliment a fitness center – what other possibilities are out there!  Consider a women’s garden with plants like yarrow (helps with pain) or black cohash (hormonal balancing).  Imagine companion planting a garden in front of a restaurant to highlight their style of food, exploring planting guilds near a children’s recess area, for a bird sanctuary, a learning garden for kids to capture insects, etc.  The possibilities are endless.

Black Walnut Tree Planting Guild for Kansas City
Black Walnut Tree Planting Guild for Kansas City

What to Plant Under a Walnut Tree

Walnut Tree:  This is the centerpiece and canopy layer of the system.  Generally with a walnut species, we don’t plant anything under the canopy itself, but you could add some spring bulbs like daffodils, crocus, or spring violets.  Under a deep canopy, we recommend adding compost, chopped, leaves and/or grass clippings to add some biomass to the soil.  Next, apply wood chip mulch 6″ deep to help create a healthy fungal network.  We have noticed quite a wide species of mushrooms using this practice and that find this growing environment to be perfect for mushrooms.  An advanced system could use this understory area for mushroom logs to grow shiitake or oyster mushrooms.  The walnuts themselves though are the focal point and are excellent sources of protein, amino acids, and healthy fats.  The hulls can be used to make tinctures, which are often taken by cancer patients treating their condition naturally.

Comfrey:  Around the drip line, we have two species of plants.  The first is comfrey, which is a fantastic biodynamic accumulator.  This plant is used to bring up minerals using its taproot and make them more bioavailable to the upper layers of soil.  This plant can be used for multiple purposes.  It can be chopped and dropped in place for creating organic biomass and weed suppression, and even used as a pollination source for insects.  It can be applied as a poultice to speed the recovery of injured bones, ligaments, and joints.  It is also a fantastic feed for chickens, goats, or cattle.  My chickens go crazy over a handful of comfrey and it gives them a good boost of minerals, biotin, and vitamin B.

NOTE:  I only use bocking 14 comfrey, because it does not spread by seed.  Comfrey which propagates by seed can be extremely invasive and nearly impossible to get rid of down the road, unless you have pigs.  It’s worth it to stick with bocking 14, which can be easily grown from root cuttings.

Mint / Lemon Balm:  Between the comfrey plants, a mint species or lemon balm would work really well.  This will help serve as both a ground cover and a source of continual pollination in the vegetative layer.  This makes mint a great choice, because there are continuous flowers to serve as a support species, and the juglone in the soil will help control mint from spreading out of control.  The leaves can be used in a tea to aid in digestion and relaxation, or can also be ground into a poultice for injured muscles.  If using lemon balm, the leaves are also used as a tea for insomnia, stress and anxiety relief, and to help digestion.  For those in fitness, both teas are extremely helpful in assisting in the repair and soothing of the muscular system.

Golden Currant:  The next layer has golden currants.  These spring and summer berries are excellent sources of antioxidants and do well in part sun.  They are best planted on the South and West sides of the tree, but can be interspersed throughout the planting guild.  The bright yellow flower clusters in the spring are satisfactory pollinators, but will be very showy and a source of color and beauty within the guild.  The berries are extremely sweet and have high antioxidants. They are easily picked and eaten raw or can be used in smoothies.

Gooseberry:  This plant is a great one to grow in the shade and is very tolerant of the juglone produced by the walnut.  These can be planted on the North and East sides of the tree or interspersed around the planting.  The slightly sour berries can be eaten raw, used in smoothies, or cooked down into a jelly or preserve.  They are high in vitamin C, A, and manganese.  As a berry, they also contain a surprising amount of minerals, including calcium and phosphorus.

Mulberry / Redbud:  In the final layer, it is a great place to put dwarf species that can either be food sources or nitrogen fixers.  In our area, I prefer to use the nitrogen fixing Eastern Red Bud.  The red bud tree produces pink / purple flowers in the springtime, which put on a great visual show.  Later in the spring, they produce a pea like pod that can be cooked and eaten like a snap pea as a source of early season plant protein.  The tree is a satisfactory legume tree, which has a root system producing nitrogen-fixing nodules to help rebuild the soil.

On the other hand, one could also plant a mulberry tree, though in this setting I would prune it to remain a bush for easier harvesting.  Mulberries grown as a tree are often harder to harvest and just make a mess on the ground.  The mulberries are excellent food sources for humans and wildlife.  Mulberries contain riboflavin, vitamin C, K, iron, and potassium.  They are also rich in antioxidants and contain alkaloids that activate macrophages to help build the immune system.

Other Growing Zones

Regardless of where you live or what type of top story tree you are using as your centerpiece, there are likely many species that will thrive under and at the edge of the canopy.  For those living in southern states, one particular tree that is challenging to grow under is the southern Live Oak.  CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT LIVE OAK COMPANION PLANTS.  However, there are still many plants that can be easily grown on the edge and even in the deep shade of the canopy.

So go find a tree on your land and start planning your next gardening area for the deep shade!  Abundance awaits – I’ll see you in the garden.

– Kristofer Edler | PermacultureFX Founder

June Gardening To-Do List for USDA Zones 3-8

june garden calendar

June Gardening To-Do List

What should I be doing on my property in the month of June if I live in USDA Zones 3-8? Have you ever wondered what other organic urban gardeners are doing right now in their yards or on their properties?   (Looking for USDA Zones 9-11, click here)  Well, here’s a little list to give you a jump-start for what you be doing in your midwest garden in June.  

In the Garden

  • Plant more:  Kale, lettuce, cucumbers, summer/winter squash  Plant another round of them, if you have room in your gardens.  These are also great to plug into open spaced in your flower beds.
  • To Plant:  Corn, cucumbers, beans, squash, pumpkins
  • Tomatoes: Plant another round of them to diversify harvest throughout the season.  In the midwest, where we often have hard clay soil, you can actually increase your root systems for greater water intake by following these easy steps.  First, pinch off the bottom layers of leaves, only leaving 2 – 3 sets on the top of the seedling.  Second, plant the seedling all the way up to the top of the plant leaving only the remaining leaves above the ground.  Because tomatoes will grow roots from the hairs on the stem, the entire stem under the soil will produce roots.  This should only be done with seedlings up to 6-8″ tall.  Lastly, be sure to give it a good watering from your rain barrel when you finish.
  • Plant extra bean seedlings everywhere you can.  Yes, everywhere you can.  The bush beans are excellent right off the plant (raw), can be cooked, and some can be dried.  The best part, in my humble opinion, is that the green beans are nitrogen fixers and help repair the soil.
Plant nasturtiums

TIP

Plant nasturtiums around the garden and in the food forest. They are a two-fold insectary plant. First, they will attract the good insect and pollinators, especially the braconid wasps (which defend against the bad guys). Secondly, they are an insect trap for aphids, so if you see your nasturtiums covered…. consider them a sacrificial crop to protect your veggies.

In the Greenhouse

  • We are essentially finished with the “Greenhouse” season, but if you have a shade cloth, you can actually open up all the windows now and put the shade cloth over the top. This will allow you to start micro-greens and other later season veggie starts. If using a shade cloth, you can also use the opened greenhouse for your indoor tropical plants to give them a season outdoors. Just be sure to pay attention to your watering!
  • Clean and sterilize the plastic pots used this winter / spring
  • Set mouse traps to control critters
  • Hang fly trap to control aphids, flies, and other pests
  • Fertilizing: It’s crucial

In the Food Forest

  • Ground Cherry seedlings can go into the ground.  Plant them around the base of trees to provide shade for the root systems, but allow enough light to get through to produce a harvest.  These will often self-seed, so plant in an area where you are ok with them spreading.  However, the taste of these berries is incredible, you will not regret planting them.
  • Herbs around fruit trees:  Woody and smelly herbs are great at two things:  keeping pests away (deer and bad bugs) and attracting native bees for pollination.  Wait, I lied… three things.  They are also a great ground cover under the young fruit trees.  Plant yarrow, bronze fennel, dill, oregano, thyme, chives, or garlic chives in clusters around the base of each fruit tree.  Let them spread and grow wild.
  • Harvest elderberry flowers:  If you are making elderflower tinctures, teas, or wine – now is your time to harvest!  Make the good stuff when flowers are at their peak.
  • Apply late spring foliar spray, if you have not done so already.
What Can You Plant Between Snows?

Enjoy your spring pollinating bulbs that you planted this winter.

If you forgot… here’s an article of when you could plant this this coming winter.

In the Shed

  • Now that your tools are up and running, give them a check over before the summer months hit. 1 – Check oil levels. 2 – Check air filters. 3 – Add a bit of Seafoam to the gas to help clean things out a bit.
  • Set mouse traps and keep any animal feed sealed and contained.
  • Make a tool cleaning bucket: Fill bucket with sharp play sand. Add oil motor oil, cheep cooking oils, etc until the sand is “damp”. Stab shovels, hoes, pitch forks in and out a few times to clean off dirt and give the metal a nice oiling to keep them from rusting after each use. Garden spades and trowels can be kept in the sand bucket.

In the Chicken Coop

  • Chickens:  Many folks who bought the spring chickens are now free ranging their birds. They are not laying yet, so do NOT give calcium.  Stay on a great grower feed until the first eggs arrive.  My preference is a high protein feed with lots of seed varieties.   Personally, prefer to mix and ferment my own feed. Here’s my recipe.
  • Quail:  It’s starting to get hot, to be sure to keep their water filled at all times.  It helps (once a week) to add a tsp of apple cider vinegar to their waterer.  It will keep them healthy and active.  As you weed the garden, you can also give them an occasional worm for additional protein in their diet.  Their cooing and songs will be as nice of a reward as the healthy eggs they will produce.
  • Deworming: Use 1 tablespoon of Basic H in a 5 gallon waterer (1tsp per gal) for chickens. Add 1.5 cups to a 100gal waterer basin for cattle and horses. Available in bulk (much cheeper for farm use) This should be their only water source for two days.

Around the House

  • Keep South and West facing shades closed during the day time in order to block out the hot sun.
  • Open up the windows on cooler nights to help air out the house and let in fresh air.
  • Replace your AC air filters and clean out the vents with a shop vac.
  • Power wash cement, walkways, sides of house, shutters, wood decks, and outdoor furniture.
  • Clean outdoor windows and doors (I use Basic H for this)
  • Apply UV protectant to your recreational vehicles (boats, car interiors, RV’s, decals, etc.

In the Perennial Flower Beds

  • Transplanting:  It’s the chance to move perennials for a few months.  Once the Midwest summers get hot, it’s really a challenge to transplant your perennials without over stressing them too much.  Now is a GREAT time to transplant coneflowers, yarrow, black-eyed Susans, penstemons, etc.
  • Share plants that you are dividing and trade with friends.
  • Cut back mums:  Yeah, go to town. Cut them back quite a bit.  Leave only about 1/3 of the plant.  You do NOT want this to develop buds yet, so if you see them forming again – give it a hair cut.

Comment Below and let us know what YOU are doing this month in your garden.  

Be sure to let us know your city / state so we know your growing region.  Check back soon for items to do next week… bookmark this page for referencing this month and keep checking back.  We’ll keep you updated on a weekly basis.

LOOKING FOR THE JUNE LIST FOR WARMER CLIMATES? CLICK HERE

June Gardening To-Do List for USDA Zones 9-11

june gardening list

What to do on your property in June?

What should I be doing in my garden in the month of June if I live in a subtropical climate (Zones 9-11)?  This is the list for you! 

Looking for a list for USDA Zones 3-8, click here.

The rainy season has begun, especially in Florida, so it’s time to shift from annual vegetable gardening to a focus on the food forest.  In essence, put your gardens to “bed” by using a cover crop like annual clover OR sunn hemp to help repair nitrogen and add biomass.  Instead, focus now on fruit trees, berry bushes, and nut trees!  This is a fantastic time to add some new tropical spinaches and edible hibiscus to your collection too!

June companion plants
Collards, Red Russian Kale, and Jewel Mix Nasturtiums

In the Garden

  • Summers in Subtropics:  Remember, this is the season that is like winter for most of the country.  Our best growing time for traditional garden veggies is essentially wrapping up.  Although it “can be done”, it’s likely better to focus on the food forest than the annual vegetables during the hot summer months.  Plant your sunn hemp in your annual garden beds and let them grow until August, at which time you can till it under to add nitrogen and biomass to your soil.  Then you’ll be ready for September vegetable season again.
  • Planting:  Summer peas, okra, and sweet potato.  You can also TRY and plant Seminole pumpkins now, but it’s a risk.   It is also still a good time to plant  ginger and turmeric – but I would not wait until the end of the month.   Get them in the ground as fast as you can.
  • Harvesting:  This month, you can harvest the pumpkins and squash from this winter, green beans, and the last bit of the cucumbers.  It’s also prime time for tropical greens!  This last week, I was harvesting the Dwarf Everbearing Mulberry and making jams and syrups to can for later.  I also tried a new pepper this year from “Seed the Stars” called a Dew Drop Pepper, and had wildly great results with them.  Most of those were canned up this week, but they are still yielding like crazy.  In fact, I have also used seeds from Seed the Stars for growing Seminole Pumpkins, Everglade Tomatoes, and butterfly pea as well.  

  • Tropical spinaches:  Some favorites (especially in Florida) are:  longevity spinach, Okinawa spinach, Suriname spinach, and Brazilian spinach.   These are high producers all summer long!

  • Tomatoes:   Most of the larger tomatoes are finishing up for the summer in the hot climates, so if you are wondering why they look so sad… that’s totally normal.  The best (if not the only) tomato that does well in the summer in warmer climates is the Everglade tomato.  It’s a gorgeous little cherry tomato that will fruit most of the summer and is very disease resistant.  It’s excellent on salads, canned in salsa, or eaten fresh.  As for your other tomatoes… let them go and focus on other things.  

  • Plant Cover Crops:  One of the best cover crops in hot climates is called Sunn Hemp.  It’s in the legume family (as opposed to the other hemp) and not only repairs nitrogen in the soil, but is also a massive biomass accumulator.  If you plant it now, it will be 6-9′ tall before August, at which time it can be chopped and dropped or even buried and composted in place in the garden.  For a FREE growing guide on Sunn Hemp, email permaculturefx@gmail.com 
  • Managing powdery mildew:  In warmer tropical climates, this is the time of year when powdery mildew really starts getting wild.  When you see the initial signs, spray immediately with neem spray (buy 100% need on Amazon and then dilute with water and some Basic H to emulsify).  Spray in the early morning well before the heat of the day, preferably on an overcast day.   Follow up in 2-3 days with a probiotic spray like BioAg by SCD Probiotics.  Repeat the following week, if necessary.   If this doesn’t help, it’s actually better to remove and burn the plants so it doesn’t spread.  Remember, the spores will stay active in your soil, so it’s important to catch it early and remove / burn the spent plants.
Plant nasturtiums

GARDEN TIP

Plant nasturtiums around the garden and in the food forest. They are a two-fold insectary plant. First, they will attract the good insect and pollinators, especially the braconid wasps (which defend against the bad guys). Secondly, they are an insect trap for aphids, so if you see your nasturtiums covered…. consider them a sacrificial crop to protect your veggies. In hot climates, they appreciate part shade in summer months and sun in the winter.

In the Greenhouse

  • We are essentially finished with the “Greenhouse” season, but if you have a shade cloth, you can actually open up all the windows now and put the shade cloth over the top. This will allow you to start micro-greens and other tropical plants (like Vanilla beans and orchids). If using a shade cloth, you can also use the opened greenhouse for your indoor plants to give them a season outside. Just be sure to pay attention to your watering schedule.
  • Clean and sterilize the plastic pots used this winter / spring. Stack and store them.
  • Set mouse traps to control critters.
  • Hang fly trap to control aphids, flies, and other pests.
A Natural Farm
Spring 2021 Permaculture Design Course students serving in the food forest at A Natural Farm in Howey-in-the-Hills, FL

In the Food Forest

  • Get a plan: Summer is an ideal time for planting in the food forest, because rainy season will make sure everything is well taken care of for you. Consider getting a private property consultation with us to help you design your yard. We will tell you where to plant, what specific varieties, how to plant them appropriately, and give a guide on how to maintain your food forest. Click here to read about our new property consultation types! We also offer drive thru consultations now, which are ideal for follow-up visits from folks who already have an existing plan in place.
  • Plant fruit trees and berry bushes: This month, think about planting avocados (there are so many great varieties), mangos, strawberry trees, tropical cherries, guava, and other tropical trees. This will allow them to have 7 months to “root in” and establish themselves before it gets cold. Summer is a perfect time to start that food forest… just make sure you have a plan first.
  • Compost and wood chips! In places like Florida, the rule of thumb is to fertilize (especially via compost or manure) every March, (early) June, and September. This month, it’s highly encouraged to refresh your wood chips as well, which helps prevent soil sterilization during the hot sunny months. Some species (like Avocado, Citrus, and Mango) can have some compost this month, but organic fertilizers should wait until September when fruit are NOT on the branches. For a FREE planting guide for new fruit trees or how to layer mulch around existing trees, click here.
  • Important Fertilization Tips: Only fertilize at the beginning of this month using compost, bone meal, kelp, or composted manure (like black kow). Do NOT use chemical or synthetic fertilizers under any circumstances and absolutely STOP fertilizing your yard for the summer. Adding nitrogen heavy and synthetic fertilizers are known to highly increase the risk of toxic algae blooms. So, please do your part and only fertilize this month using whole ingredients, like those listed above. Do NOT fertilize the second half of the month – no exceptions. Though it might be “permissible” for your trees, it has a much more damaging effect on our local ecosystems – so compost ASAP or wait until September.
  • Ground cherry seedlings (or Cape Cod Gooseberry) can go into the ground now.  Plant them around the base of fruit trees to provide shade for the root systems, but allow enough light to get through to produce a harvest.  These will often self-seed, so plant in an area where you are ok with them spreading.  The taste of these berries is incredible, you will not regret planting them! Not to mention, they are packed with vitamin-C.
  • Herbs around fruit trees:  Woody and smelly herbs are great at two things:  keeping pests away (deer and bad bugs) and attracting native bees for pollination.  Wait, I lied… three things.  They are also a great ground cover under the young fruit trees.  Plant yarrow, bronze fennel, dill, oregano, thyme, chives, or garlic chives in clusters around the base of each fruit tree.  Let them spread and grow wild.
  • Harvest elderberry flowers:  If you are making elderflower tinctures, teas, or wine – now is your time to harvest!  Make the good stuff when flowers are at their peak.
  • Apply late spring foliar spray, if you have not done so already. It’s also a good time to try and get some elderberry cuttings for propagation.
  • Do NOT prune fruit trees! Never prune during the warmer months… wait until they go dormant. While the plant is sleeping, the sap slows down and the weather is often drier, which helps prevent bacterial and fungal infections.
Elderflower blossoms in Central Florida

Enjoy Flowers in bloom

Though this isn’t exactly the best time to plant native perennials, it’s a great time to enjoy the ones you started earlier. If you decide to plant anything this time of year, remember to check their water needs and mulch heavily. Never water until the soil has had the chance to try out for a day. If in doubt, finger check the soil down to your big knuckle.

In the Shed

  • Now that your tools are up and running, give them a check over before the summer months hit. 1 – Check oil levels. 2 – Check air filters. 3 – Add a bit of Seafoam to the gas to help clean things out a bit. Reoil your metal tools to prevent rust.
  • Make sure all outdoor tools and equipment are covered when not in use. In places like the South Eastern US, we are entering the rainy season and moisture is hard on equipment. If you cannot store them in a shed, make sure they are covered with a tarp when not in use.
  • Set mouse traps and keep any animal feed sealed and contained.
  • Make a tool cleaning bucket: Fill bucket with sharp play sand. Add oil motor oil, cheep cooking oils, etc until the sand is “damp”. Stab shovels, hoes, pitch forks in and out a few times to clean off dirt and give the metal a nice oiling to keep them from rusting after each use. Garden spades and trowels can be kept in the sand bucket when not in use. Obviously, do NOT put pruners or tools with gears in the sand.

In the Chicken Coop & Barn

  • Chickens:  Many folks who bought/hatched spring chickens are now free ranging their birds. They are not laying yet, so do NOT give them calcium.  Stay on an organic grower feed until the first eggs arrive.  My preference is a high protein feed with lots of seed varieties.   Personally, prefer to mix and ferment my own feed. Here’s my recipe.
  • Quail:  It’s starting to get hot, to be sure to keep their water filled at all times.  It helps (once a week) to add a tsp of apple cider vinegar to their waterer.  It will keep them healthy and active.  As you weed the garden, you can also give them an occasional worms and weeds for additional goodness in their diet.  Their cooing and songs will be as nice of a reward as the healthy eggs they will produce.
  • Deworm: Use 1 tablespoon of Basic H in a 5 gallon waterer (1 tsp per gal) for chickens. Add 1.5 cups to a 100gal waterer basin for cattle and horses. Available in bulk (much cheeper for farm use) This should be their only water source for two days.
  • Disinfect: Use Basic H to clean coops, animal areas, waterers, feeders, etc. This is a great time to power wash the barn, shed, and garage as well.
Feeders and seed in my yard are always from Wild Birds Unlimited, because I believe strongly in their quality and their support of local education and school connections.

Around the House

  • Put out summer bird seed and feeders. This is an excellent way to help with insect control around the garden. For more information on bird seed selections and food forest benefits, watch this IGTV video.
  • Keep South and West facing shades closed during the day time in order to block out the hot sun.
  • Open up the windows (on cooler nights) to help air out the house and let in fresh air.
  • Replace your AC air filters and clean out the vents with a shop vac.
  • Power wash cement, walkways, sides of house, shutters, wood decks, and outdoor furniture.
  • Clean outdoor windows and doors (I use Basic H for this).
  • Apply UV protectant to your recreational vehicles (boats, car interiors, RV’s, decals, etc.)

In the Perennial Flower Beds

  • Transplanting:  Now is NOT the time to transplant, unless you see rain in the forecast for the next week.
  • Compost! Now is the last chance to compost your perennial wildflowers before fall, so if you want to increase your summer blooms then go ahead and do that now. It’s also a great time to water using an organic fish emulsion / sea kelp blend. Your potted plants will REALLY appreciate this.
  • Cut back mums:  Yeah, go to town. Cut them back quite a bit.  Leave only about 1/3 of the plant.  You do NOT want this to develop buds yet, so if you see them forming again – give it a hair cut.

Ideas for Kids

  1. Take a food forest tour: Visit places like A Natural Farm, Momma G Farms, Bamboo Leaf Tea, or the Reid Farm. Bring the kids for an amazing hands on experience.
  2. Visit a botanical garden: Some of our favorites include Bok Tower and the Harry P. Leu Gardens.
  3. Make Butterfly Pea Flower tea! Google it… because it’s a magical color changing experience that tastes like Kool Aid. Seeds are available on Etsy from a company called “Seed the Stars”.
  4. Plant a sweet almond bush. This is (by far) one of the best smelling pollinating plants in all of Florida. Though it’s not native here, it’s a butterfly hit and performs very well in our climate. The almond smelling flowers produce year round, and the large bush needs NO winter protection.

Comment below and let us know what YOU are doing this month in your garden.  

Be sure to let us know your city / state so we know your growing region. Add any tips that you have learned, additional items that we’ve missed, and any wisdom and experience you can add to the mix. Happy gardening!

NOTE: If you are interested in having an in-person or digital consultation for your property, we are now offering these at discounted prices.

Looking for a list for USDA Zones 3-8, click here.

March Gardening To-Do List (zones 3-8)

Here’s a list of what you should do in your garden in March, if you live in the Midwest (specifically in USDA zones 3-8). Granted, weather isn’t exactly a science… well it is… it’s just not an exact science. Just keep a close watch on your weather and plan your planting accordingly. If you are not sure what your growing zone is (or how to use it), watch this tutorial video. If you are in a warmer climate, don’t worry, you can CLICK HERE for the Zone 9-11 March To-Do List.

Without further delay, ladies and gentlemen, here is your completely arbitrary March Gardening To-Do List!

crocus bulbs in bloom
Crocus in the spring garden

In the Garden

  • Take soil tests and send to your local extension office. Take samples from each area of your yard and make sure to get the detailed report. The most important part for me is not the NPK… it’s the amount of organic matter! Generally speaking if you have a higher percentage of organic material in your soil, the rest of the soil health will follow suit.
  • Make minor amendments before the spring rains (add bone meal, blood meal, etc.).
  • Spread chicken poop and hay from the nesting boxes on the compost pile and get it working before it’s warm.
  • Start planting some frost friendly veggies (radish, Swiss chard, cabbage, broccoli, some lettuces, etc.)  We recommend direct sowing a little every week, so that way your harvest is staggered.  It also helps to insure a diversified crop and give extra insurance that if one round dies… another one will do just fine!

In the Greenhouse

  • Plant seed trays: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, kale, broccoli, cabbage, etc. Start perennial seeds for food forest planting: goji berries, gooseberries, trees from seed, etc.
  • Add black 5-gallon buckets of water (with lids) for radiant heat source, if you do not have a heated greenhouse.
  • TIP: Always plants more than what you think you’ll need. The worst case scenario is that you have some to share with neighbors, friends, or gorilla plant in a local park.

In the Food Forest

This hori hori tool, from Barebones Living is one of my new favorite gardening tools.
  • Break up any large sticks and twigs. They will decompose much faster if they are in direct contact with the soil.
  • Remove leaf cover from the soil and use as a mulch around the base of trees / bushes (cover the sticks). You can chop it up a bit with the mower if the leaves are still crispy.
  • Plant alley crops between rows and plantings. In our area I often use a blend of red clover, white dutch, yellow closer, and crimson clover. I plant this between the rows.
  • Plant living mulches around the base of the trees (turnips, bocking 14 comfrey root, berries, herb roots, etc.).
  • Feed native wild birds before nesting season starts in order to encourage them to live in your area. They are fantastic bug control and leave behind little bits of birdie poo.
  • Hang wild bird houses and bat houses before nesting season begins.
  • Set out orange halves and grape jelly to attract early migrating orioles.
  • Last chance to prune apple trees (before buds open)!
  • Spray your spring foliar spray on every perennial in the food forest! Get our recipe here.
  • Add fresh mulch to trees and shrubs (up to 5″ thick). Remember to always keep the mulch away from the trunks of the trees.
  • Get a permaculture consultation to help you come up with a game plan for your overall property, garden, and food forest. PermacultureFX now offers both in-person and digital consultations (at a reduced rate).

In the Shed

  • Sharpen mower blades and all cutting tools.
  • Oil any metal that rusted over the winter. Remove tarnish with steel wool. Ax heads should be treated with bees wax.
  • Check for broken pots from winter cold.
  • Set a few extra mouse traps in the shed, greenhouse, and garage.
  • Start up the mower, weed whipper, and other tools for the first time. If you have difficulty starting them, you can always use a bit of Sea Foam to get things moving. Use two ounces per gallon of gas. It will work wonders!

In the Chicken Coop

  • Remove winter bedding, if you used the deep bedding method.
  • Deep clean…deep clean…deep clean! We use Shaklee’s Basic H2, because it’s organic and will also take care of mites, lice, etc.
  • Lower fat content (corn) and increase protein sources. If you are doing a mealworm farm, it’s a great time to give the girls an extra boost!
  • Feed extra omega-3’s. Get some feeder fish (minnows) from a local pet store and put them in a shallow pan. Watch your chooks go nuts for them!
  • Use honey, garlic, and ACV in their water once per week to give them an extra immune boost before the springtime. I also add a product for livestock by SCD Probiotics based out of KCMO.

Around the House

  • Clean out the gutters from any winter debris.
  • Remove winter window treatments and wash windows (inside and out).
  • Power-wash the sides of the house, cement, and garage doors. We use Basic H2 for this as well, because it organically takes care of mold and mildew easily.
  • Oil doors (interior and exterior).
  • Prune any trees around the yard before leaf buds begin to open.
  • Get hoses ready to bring outside.

In the Perennial Flower Beds

  • Finish cutting back any dead growth from last year.
  • Trim back winter ferns and greens (holly, lenten roses, etc.)
  • Remove leaves or debris from the top of bulb areas, leaving only compost or wood chips. The debris should be composted and added back to the beds later.
  • Start planning mulch and compost deliveries now. Look for sales or companies to bring it to you in bulk.
  • You can also plant cold season annual flowers at this time as well. Snap dragons, violas, pansies, and calendulas do great this time of year.
  • Spring sow any native wildflowers. One of my favorite Midwest companies for this is Prairie Moon Nursery (online), because they do seed mixes geared toward your specific sun exposure and soil type.

  • TIP: Never use mulch that has been colored or dyed (red or black). Let’s just use our heads on why that’s a bad idea.

March Garden and Property To-Do List (Zones 9-12)

Here’s a list of what you should be doing in you garden and food forest in March, if you live in warmer, tropical climates (USDA Zones 9-12). Granted, weather isn’t exactly a science… well, it is… it’s just not a predictable one. Keep a close eye on your weather this month and adjust your planting accordingly. If you are unsure what growing zone you are in, watch this video tutorial. If you are in a colder climate and want info for zones 3-8, CLICK HERE.

Without further delay, ladies and gentlemen, here is March Gardening To-Do List!

Cover crop with daikon radish, winter wheat, and field peas

In the Garden

  • Take soil tests and send to your local extension office. Take samples from each area of your yard and make sure to get the detailed report. The most important part for me is not the NPK… it’s the amount of organic matter! Generally speaking if you have a higher percentage of organic material in your soil, the rest of the soil health will follow suit.
  • Make minor amendments before the spring rains (add bone meal, blood meal, compost, etc.). Many people settle with a short-term “solution” of applying an NPK fertilizer, but a better longterm solution would be to focus on soil building through organic matter, manure, and compost.
  • TIP – Spread chicken poop and hay from the nesting boxes on the compost pile and get it working before the weather gets insanely hot.
  • Annuals to plant indoors: Okra, peppers, eggplant, more nasturtiums and marigolds (to deter garden pests), pumpkins and gourds.
  • Annuals to plant outdoors (or direct sow): arugula, beans, borage, carrots, corn, cucumbers, okra, another round of onions, seminole pumpkins (Florida), squash, sweet potato slips, tomatoes (especially Everglade tomatoes), and watermelon.
  • Plant some tender annuals like longevity spinach, Okinawa spinach, Surinam spinach, etc. Don’t plant all you have yet, in case we still get another frost, but start putting some out in your more protected areas.
Calendula – used for tea, ointments, creams, etc.

In the Greenhouse

  • Plant seed trays: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, roselle (Jamaican Sorrel), Cranberry hibiscus, etc. Start perennial seeds for food forest planting: goji berries, trees from seed (like Moringa), etc. Also start food forest items like Roselle, cranberry hibiscus, elderberry cuttings, sugar cane, bananas.
  • Fertilize orchids well this month
  • TIP: Always plants more than what you think you’ll need. The worst case scenario is that you have some to share with neighbors, friends, or gorilla plant in a local park.
Nasturiums planted under trees and near tomatoes.

In the Food Forest

  • Break up any large sticks and twigs. They will decompose much faster if they are in direct contact with the soil.
  • Remove leaf cover from the soil and use as a mulch around the base of trees / bushes (cover the sticks). You can chop it up a bit with the mower if the leaves are still crispy.
  • Plant alley crops between rows and plantings. In zone 9, personally love planting durana clover, red clover, sun hemp (legume), and winter wheat. Sun hemp should be purchased now and planted the first of April.
  • Plant living mulches around the base of the trees (turnips, Bocking 14 comfrey root, borage, nasturtiums, etc.)
  • Feed native wild birds before nesting season starts in order to encourage them to live in your area. They are fantastic bug control and leave behind little bits of birdie poo.
  • Hang wild bird houses and bat houses before nesting season begins.
  • Set out orange halves and grape jelly to attract early migrating orioles.
  • Spray your spring foliar spray on every perennial in the food forest! Get the recipe here.
  • Add fresh mulch to trees and shrubs (up to 5″ thick). Remember to always keep the mulch away from the trunks of the trees.
  • Get a permaculture consultation to help you come up with a game plan for your overall property, garden, and food forest. PermacultureFX now offers both in-person and digital consultations (at a reduced rate).
  • March 1-15th: Plant cold tolerant trees: peach, plum, nectarine, blueberries, elderberries, pear, apple, etc.
  • March 15-30th: Plant tropical trees (if the 30-day forecast looks warm): avocado, mango, strawberry tree, tropical cherries, etc.
Simple birdhouses using old license plates

In the Shed

  • Sharpen mower blades and all cutting tools.
  • Oil any metal that rusted over the winter. Remove tarnish with steel wool. Ax heads should be treated with bees wax.
  • Check for broken pots from winter cold.
  • Set a few extra mouse traps in the shed, greenhouse, and garage.
  • Start up the mower, weed whipper, and other tools for the first time. If you have difficulty starting them, you can always use a bit of Sea Foam to get things moving. Use two ounces per gallon of gas. It will work wonders!

In the Chicken Coop

  • Remove winter bedding, if you used the deep bedding method.
  • Deep clean…deep clean…deep clean! We use Shaklee’s Basic H2, because it’s organic and will also take care of mites, lice, etc.
  • Lower fat content (corn) and increase protein sources. If you are doing a mealworm farm, it’s a great time to give the girls an extra boost!
  • Feed extra omega-3’s. Get some feeder fish (minnows) from a local pet store and put them in a shallow pan. Watch your chooks go nuts for them!
  • Use honey, garlic, and ACV in their water once per week to give them an extra immune boost before the springtime. I also add a product for livestock by SCD Probiotics based out of KCMO.
Basic H for deworming livestock and cleaning the barn / coop

Around the House

  • Clean out the gutters from any winter debris, especially oak leaves.
  • Remove winter window treatments and wash windows (inside and out).
  • Power-wash the sides of the house, cement, and garage doors. We use Basic H2 for this as well, because it organically takes care of mold and mildew easily.
  • Oil doors and hinges (interior and exterior).
  • Prune any trees around the yard before leaf buds begin to open.

In the Perennial Flower Beds

  • Finish cutting back any dead growth from last year.
  • Remove leaves or debris from the top of bulb areas, leaving only compost or wood chips. The debris should be composted and added back to the beds later.
  • Start planning mulch and compost deliveries now. Look for sales or companies to bring it to you in bulk.
  • You can also plant cold season annual flowers at this time as well. Snap dragons, violas, pansies, begonias, and calendulas do great this time of year.
  • Spring sow any native wildflowers.

  • TIP: Never use mulch that has been colored or dyed (red or black). Let’s just use our heads on why that’s a bad idea.

February Gardening To-Do List for Zones 9-11

Florida February Garden List

February is prime vegetable season for much of the warmer regions in the US. This Gardening and Property To-Do list for February will help you cover all the bases on your homestead in order to be ready for an abundant spring. For the To-Do List for USDA Zones 3-8, CLICK HERE.

In the Garden

  • To Transplant: Greens, arugula, beets, brassicas, cabbage, eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes.
  • To plant by seed: beans (all kinds), melons, corn, cucumbers, okra, onions, radish, squash, turnips, watermelon.
  • Bulbs: Ginger and Turmeric can go in now. I recommend spiral ginger, blue turmeric, and galangal for a bit of exotic variety. There is a great company in Central Florida (who ships nationwide) that has organic ginger, called A Natural Farm. Let them know we referred ya!

Annuals

  • Sunflowers
  • Snapdragons
  • Violas and Pansies
  • Nasturtiums

Perennial Flowers and Around the House

  • Mulching! This is the optimum time to mulch and start applying compost to your garden and food forest areas. Many regions have tree service companies that will deliver wood chips for free if you call and ask them. Get ready for a dump truck load!
  • Empty and Sterilize Bird Houses (and feeders): You want to have this completed by mid-month, so you are ready for the spring nesting season. To disinfect, I use Shaklee Basic H and/or G. You can find it by clicking here
  • Start ordering your organic soil amendments for spring (compost, mushroom compost, manure, etc.)
  • Finalize your seed orders. Use companies that have organic and non-GMO seeds. I really like Baker Creek and ARK Seed Kits.
  • Start planning your online orders for barefoot perennial flowers. Consider a company like Hartmann’s where you can order in bulk at a much cheeper price.
  • Dig new swales and cover with straw or winter wheat seed to prepare for spring gardens.
  • Get a permaculture consultation to help you plan your property, food forest, and homestead. Don’t wait until spring!

Food Forest & Orchard

  • Mulch, mulch, mulch! Lots of compost and manure applications by the third week of February.
  • Fertilize blueberries
  • Plant trees and shrubs while they are in (or close to dormancy). In Central Florida, this is the perfect time to plant mulberries, elderberries, dragon fruit, persimmon, peach, etc. Always plant (and water well) when they are dormant. Never plant trees when they are in the flowering phase. You want as much energy as possible to go to the root system. First year fruit trees should NOT be allowed to bear fruit (pick them off), but it’s ok to allow some berry bushes to fruit the first year.
  • Cover Crops: Durana clover can be planted during warm spells, and red winter wheat can also be planted for chicken forage.
  • Order organic orchard supplies for the coming season – be sure to look for holiday sales! Include seaweed extract, BioAg, neem oil, and fish emulsion. Get ready for spring foliar spraying.

Pasture

  • Plant lespedeza, millet (last half of month if weather is ok), could possibly plant corn or sunflowers for silage.
  • Some clovers can be planted at this time, if there is a 5-7 day window of warmer evening and rain.
  • Dormant comfrey (bocking 14 variety only) can be planted now for minerals.
  • Turnips and radishes (especially daikon) can be planted in food plot areas as well. Just be sure to water until they are established.
  • GOATS: If you have goats, you can feed them used Christmas trees for an extra boost of vitamin C and antioxidants. Deworm using Basic H (see next note).
  • CATTLE: Deworming can be done using Joel Salatin’s method of using 1tsp of Basic H per gallon of water or 1/3 cup for a 50 gallon watering trough. I prefer the original Basic H instead of the Basic H2 though. It comes in a 5 gallon bucket, which is a great opportunity to go in with another farmer to purchase. It will last for YEARS! CLICK HERE TO ORDER

In the Shed

  • Check mouse traps frequently. Add cotton balls with peppermint oil to deter rodents. This time of year it is common for mice to start having babies, especially in the greenhouse.
  • TIP: Make a tool oiling bucket by filling it with sand and adding a pint or two of oil. You can use old motor oil from your car or even olive olive. Put shovels and spades in this to remove rust and keep oiled.
  • Look for estate sales that might have garden tools. The best tools are often the old wooden handled ones – skip the new ones. Most of the time, they are overpriced and not made with the quality standard they used to be.

In the Chicken Coop

  • Feed extra protein (meal worms, black oiled sunflower seeds, bugs, etc.) to help them during their own recovery season.
  • Do NOT let a hen go broody yet. Wait until the end of February. The weather fluctuates too much this time of year and that can make it a hard hatch for your girls.
  • Consider hatching eggs indoors in an incubator. Use a reputable company for ordering OR use your own fertilized eggs. Collect hatching eggs and store in the refrigerator for up to 36 hours before putting in the incubator.
  • Do NOT use supplemental lighting to increase egg production. Chickens need this off season to let their bodies rest. Let them have a natural rhythm of rest too.
  • Add a small amount of corn or millet to their diet to help with caloric intake in the winter months. This helps keep them warm naturally. NEVER use heat lamps in a coop or run.
  • Purchase suet blocks (>5% protein) as you see them on sale. The fat content helps birds stay warm for the winter. (click here for more tips on keeping birds warm)
  • Rotate straw and bedding in the coop to keep things clean and sanitary.
  • Give healthy protein / omega 3 treats: One cheep way to do this is to go to a local pet store and get feeder fish (cheep minnows). Put them into a shallow tray (with a bit of water) and watch the birds catch them! You can also purchase live crickets from pet stores and feel them fresh veggies for a day or two. Feed several per day to your birds for a healthy winter treat.
  • Deworm using Joel Salatin’s suggested organic method, using Shaklee’s Basic H. 5 drops for chickens in 1 gallon of water. Click here for order info. NOTE: He recommends using the original Basic H as opposed to Basic H2.

Winter Ideas for Kids

wood ear mushroom
  • Go on a hike and look for deer runs and fallen deer antlers.
  • Look for wood ear mushrooms! They love the warmer winter days this time of year and are absolutely delicious. Not to mention, they have no “inedible” look a-likes, so are a safe variety for new mushroom hunters to harvest.
  • Attend a local gardening, mushroom, or permaculture event in your area.
  • Schedule a property consultation to get a professional plan for your property!
  • Have kids help you pick out seeds for next year in the seed catalogues. Consider giving them their own section of the garden to plant in the spring. Have them cut out pictures from your seed catalogue to make a collage to inspire them to plant with you in the spring.

See something we miss?? Add your ideas in the comments below!

February Gardening To-Do List for Growing Zones 3-8

February Gardening To-Do List

For USDA Growing Zones 9-11, CLICK HERE.

Cold Temperate Climate Property To List

winter sunrise

Late winter is the time when the gardener in each of us starts to get restless. We start frantically searching for things we can do on the sporadic warmer days in hopes that spring will come just a little bit sooner this year.

At the same time, we are secretly enjoying the winter time of rest, healing, and renewal. There is something innate inside of us that is programmed to enter into a season of rest, but even in these times, we dream of fruitfulness and abundance. We long for the days we can go barefoot outside again and feel the grass between our toes. We anticipate the coming growing season and make countless garden layout sketches to satiate ourselves.

So, as we each do what we can to embrace the late winter time of rest and healing, here is a list of activities you can do to keep your green thumbs happy until the crocus start to bloom and the soil wakes from its slumber.

Here are just a few things you can add to your February Gardening To-Do List.

In the Garden & Greenhouse

  • Continue cover the soil with organic matter. This time of year, I use a lot of straw, specifically the stuff that comes out of the chicken coop or duck house. Then, over the next month, I will start adding a 3″ layer of wood chips to the top. Just make sure to keep compost and wood chips away from woody stems (The goal is to have donut shapes not volcanos around the stem / trunk).
  • Remove any remaining dead plant matter from last year. Tomato wilt and fungal diseases can stay in the soil, if it doesn’t get cold enough over the winter. Add to compost pile or burn.
  • Do controlled burns on new garden areas. Check areas again after it rains / snows to see if you have burned it down far enough or need to do it one more time.
Controlled burn area that will end up needing a second burn to get to the roots and destroy old seed heads.
  • Turn the compost pile every few weeks to keep things decomposing over the winter. Add an occasional bucket of water to keep moisture levels up, especially if there are a lot of leaves in the pile.
  • Plant brassicas (early in the month): cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, etc. These can be planted in the green house mid-month OR indoors in seed trays.
  • Plant night shades (later in the month): tomatoes, peppers, and egg plants. Use heat mats, grow lights, etc. This will keep the seedlings from getting too leggy over the next two months. If you do not use supplemental heat / lighting, you might want to wait until early March to start indoors.
  • Apply winter soil probiotic and microbial spray (I use a product called BioAg, which is produced in Kansas City, MO).
  • Start ordering seeds and root stock.
  • Brainstorm garden plan ideas and draw them out, so you are ready once the growing season starts.
  • Consider using new companion plants this year and rotating your usual crop layout.

In the Food Forest

  • Prune all fruit and nut trees, shrubs, and bushes. Open and airy scaffold structure is best to promote fruiting.
  • Prepare to start tapping for maple syrup. Get your hooks and spouts ready, check the sugar drip lines (if you have a tube harvesting system). The best time for tapping is usually mid-February through mid-March.
  • Remove all rotten or hard fruit (still on the trees) and put in the compost pile.
  • Make bone sauce for deer repellant (recipe coming soon) and apply “spots” on the warmer days. This bone sauce recipe will actually keep deer away from orchard trees for 10+ years.
  • Pack the snow around the base of tree trunks to pack down vole and rodent tunnels.
  • Order organic orchard supplies for the coming season – be sure to look for holiday sales! Include seaweed extract, BioAg, neem oil, and fish emulsion. Get ready for spring foliar spraying.
  • Finish any winter mulching (wait for compost until spring, so you don’t add too much nitrogen now).

In the Shed

  • Check mouse traps frequently. Add cotton balls with peppermint oil to deter rodents. This time of year it is common for mice to start having babies, especially in the greenhouse.
  • TIP: Make a tool oiling bucket by filling it with sand and adding a pint or two of oil. You can use old motor oil from your car or even olive olive. Put shovels and spades in this to remove rust and keep oiled.
  • Look for estate sales that might have garden tools. The best tools are often the old wooden handled ones – skip the new ones. Most of the time, they are overpriced and not made with the quality standard they used to be.

In the Chicken Coop

  • Feed extra protein (meal worms, black oiled sunflower seeds, bugs, etc.) to help them during their own recovery season.
  • Do NOT let a hen go broody yet. Wait until the end of February. The weather fluctuates too much this time of year and that can make it a hard hatch for your girls.
  • Consider hatching eggs indoors in an incubator. Use a reputable company for ordering OR use your own fertilized eggs. Collect hatching eggs and store in the refrigerator for up to 36 hours before putting in the incubator.
  • Do NOT use supplemental lighting to increase egg production. Chickens need this off season to let their bodies rest. Let them have a natural rhythm of rest too.
  • Add a small amount of corn or millet to their diet to help with caloric intake in the winter months. This helps keep them warm naturally. NEVER use heat lamps in a coop or run.
  • Purchase suet blocks (>5% protein) as you see them on sale. The fat content helps birds stay warm for the winter. (click here for more tips on keeping birds warm)
  • Rotate straw and bedding in the coop to keep things clean and sanitary.
  • Keep water unthawed
    • Use an electric water heater (OR)
    • Use two watering containers and bring them in at night / rotate them
    • Note: The salt water bottle in the container does NOT work outside of 1-2 degrees below freezing and only for a short time. This can work as an addition, but should not be your primary means of keeping water unthawed.
  • Give healthy protein / omega 3 treats: One cheep way to do this is to go to a local pet store and get feeder fish (cheep minnows). Put them into a shallow tray (with a bit of water) and watch the birds catch them! You can also purchase live crickets from pet stores and feel them fresh veggies for a day or two. Feed several per day to your birds for a healthy winter treat.
  • GOATS: If you have goats, you can feed them your used Christmas trees for an extra boost of vitamin C and antioxidants.

Around the House & Perennial Beds

  • Start planning your online orders for barefoot perennial flowers. Consider a company like Hartmann’s where you can order in bulk at a much cheeper price.
  • Winter seed new wild flower beds. If you have an edge area in your yard, this could be the perfect solution for that area. Plus, the less you need to mow, the better! Use a company like Prairie Moon Nursery to order native perennial seed mixes specific to your site needs.
  • Dig new swales and cover with straw or winter wheat seed to prepare for spring gardens.
february swale digging
Swale digging during a warmer winter day
  • Water house plants carefully and start adding a 1/2 dose of nitrogen fertilizer (starting the last week of the month). If you have a fresh water fish tank, you can also use that water when you do water changes. It’s rich in nutrients and fish poo.
    • Only water them when you can put your finger in the soil and it feels dry up to your first knuckle (about 1″ deep). If the soil feels or looks damp – do NOT water.
    • Water in the sink until water runs out of the bottom, so you know the full root ball is saturated. Let it drain for a few minutes before returning to a sunny spot near a window.
    • Rotate plants every view days for even light distribution.

Winter Ideas for Kids

wood ear mushroom
  • Go on a hike and look for deer runs and fallen deer antlers.
  • Look for wood ear mushrooms! They love the warmer winter days this time of year and are absolutely delicious. Not to mention, they have no “inedible” look alike in the Kansas City region, so are a safe variety for new mushroom hunters to harvest.
  • Attend a local gardening, mushroom, or permaculture event in your area.
  • Schedule a property consultation to get a professional plan for your property!
  • Have kids help you pick out seeds for next year in the seed catalogues. Consider giving them their own section of the garden to plant in the spring. Have them cut out pictures from your seed catalogue to make a collage to inspire them to plant with you in the spring.

December Gardening To-Do List for Zones 3-8

Winter Gardening List at BRFE

December Gardening To-Do List

Even in the midst of our winter hibernation, there are still things we can be doing outside as we look back on fond memories of the last growing season. For those in a cold-temperate climate, the winter season offers us something unique – a time of planned rest. If you are from a warmer climate (USDA Zone 9-11, CLICK HERE for a list specific to subtropical climates).

Winter is a time of restoration, rejuvenation, and healing. It’s like a divine pause for us to reset. During this time there are still crucial things happening that our eyes don’t always see easily.

Sometimes though, we have to see more with our eyes closed than our eyes open.

Chickens and ducks are resting their bodies in order to restore nutrient levels after a busy laying season and fall feather molting. Fallen leaves and plants are decomposing and returning important nutrients to the soil. Fungal networks are expanding underground to strengthen the soil web. The cold is killing off bacteria and disease in the soil and helping with insect control. The roots of trees continue to grow deeper, even in depths of the winter months. Winter is indeed a time of unsung activity, but should also be a time of rest for you and your garden.

Here are just a few things you can add to your December Gardening To-Do List.

In the Garden & Greenhouse

  • Continue cover the soil with organic matter. You can use chopped up leaves (i.e. picked up with the lawn mower), straw, compost, etc. Better yet, just use layers of each.
  • Continue to plant garlic or root crops (Jerusalem artichokes, strawberry root stock, dormant shrubs, etc.)
  • Remove any remaining dead plant matter from last year. Tomato wilt and fungal diseases can stay in the soil, if it doesn’t get cold enough over the winter.
  • If you are preparing any new garden beds, you can cover the grassy areas with black tarps for the winter to start killing off the grass and weeds, so it’s easier to work in the spring.
  • Turn the compost pile every few weeks to keep things decomposing over the winter. Add an occasional bucket of water to keep moisture levels up, especially if there are a lot of leaves in the pile.
  • Plant seeds that need to be cold stratified (pawpaw, acorns, etc.)
  • Apply winter soil probiotic and microbial spray (I use a product called BioAg, which is produced in Kansas City, MO).
  • Test soil samples and begin making amendment plans for springtime.

In the Food Forest

  • Prune all fruit and nut trees, shrubs, and bushes. Remove branches that are preventing light from getting to other branches. Open and airy scaffold structure is best to promote fruiting.
  • Remove all rotten or hard fruit (still on the trees) and put in the compost pile.
  • Check for deer damage (eating branches, buck rubs, etc.) at least weekly. Save some deer bones from hunting season to make bone sauce for deer repellant (recipe coming soon). Pack the snow around the base of tree trunks to pack down vole and rodent tunnels.
  • Order organic orchard supplies for the coming season – be sure to look for holiday sales! Include seaweed extract, BioAg, neem oil, Basic H (for all foliar applications), and fish emulsion.
  • Finish any winter mulching (wait for compost until spring, so you don’t add too much nitrogen now).
Winter Gardening List at BRFE
Blue River Forest Experience – Permaculture Property in Stillwell, KS that hosts after school programs for kids

In the Shed

  • Check mouse traps frequently. Add cotton balls with peppermint oil to deter rodents.
  • Finish oiling up any tools that got missed.
  • Look for online sales for any equipment that need to be replaced.

In the Chicken Coop

december chicken care
  • Feed extra protein (meal worms, black oiled sunflower seeds, bugs, etc.) to help them during their recovery season.
  • Do NOT use supplemental lighting to increase egg production. Chickens need this off season to let their bodies rest. Let them have a natural rhythm of rest too.
  • Add a small amount of corn or millet to their diet to help with caloric intake in the winter months. This helps keep them warm naturally. NEVER use heat lamps in a coop or run.
  • Purchase suet blocks (>5% protein) as you see them on sale. The fat content helps birds stay warm for the winter. (click here for more tips on keeping birds warm)
  • Rotate straw and bedding in the coop to keep things clean and sanitary.
  • Keep water unthawed
    • Use an electric water heater (OR)
    • Use two watering containers and bring them in at night / rotate them
    • Note: The salt water bottle in the container does NOT work outside of 1-2 degrees below freezing and only for a short time. This can work as an addition, but should not be your primary means of keeping water unthawed.
  • Add garden and flower bed cuttings to their run for them to “go through” and eat bugs and seeds before composting them.
  • Feed spent pumpkin and squash (from fall decor) to chickens. It helps boost their immune systems and can be a preventative for worms. NOTE: Pumpkin seeds are NOT a proven treatment for worms, but a great as part of your preventative maintenance regime. You may need to break them open for the birds to get at the inner meat of the pumpkins.
  • Give healthy protein / omega 3 treats: One cheep way to do this is to go to a local pet store and get feeder fish (cheep minnows). Put them into a shallow tray (with a bit of water) and watch the birds catch them! You can also purchase live crickets from pet stores and feel them fresh veggies for a day or two. Feed several per day to your birds for a healthy winter treat.

Around the House & Perennial Beds

  • Continue to plant spring bulbs every time the soil thaws. This can be done all winter. Click here for some of our favorite bulbs to plant in the winter.
  • Pay attention to windows and address any drafts immediately. Older winters should have plastic over them (purchased at a local hardware store), which will help save $$ on heat bills. Pull blinds to keep heat inside at night and open them during the day to let natural light inside.
  • Water house plants carefully.
    • Only water them when you can put your finger in the soil and it feels dry up to your first knuckle (about 1″ deep). If the soil feels or looks damp – do NOT water.
    • Water in the sink until water runs out of the bottom, so you know the full root ball is saturated. Let it drain for a few minutes before returning to a sunny spot near a window.
    • Rotate plants every view days for even light distribution.

Winter Ideas for Kids

Natural winter decorations
  • Take nature walks on nice days.
    • Have kids look for interesting textures and shapes
    • Look for buck rubs or signs of animals
  • Put out bird feeders and make fun food treats for wildlife. Consider a natural Christmas tree outside for the birds with all edible ornaments and garland.
  • Visit a nature center or arboretum in your area and let the kids pick out a new house plant to take care of.
  • Attend a local gardening, mushroom, or permaculture event in your area.
  • Visit a local farm. Many offer family friendly activities.
  • Have kids help you pick out seeds for next year in the seed catalogues. Consider giving them their own section of the garden to plant in the spring. Involve them in the entire process of planning as well as planting and maintenance. It’s amazing the veggies kids will eat when they picked it out, planted it, and grew it themselves.

Time to Plan

During these winter months while the fruit trees and gardens are dormant, it’s the perfect time to plan for the spring. If you are interested in a personalized permaculture consultation for your property, we do both in-person visits to your site AND digital visits (for those out of our area). CLICK HERE to learn more.