February Garden To-Do List for Zones 9-11

february garden calendar

February is prime vegetable season for much of the warmer regions in the US. So despite some of the frosts and heavy freezing this year, there are still many enjoyable tasks ahead in the garden. Plus, it’s the perfect planning season for the food forest. As soon as the danger of frost is past, orchards and agroforestry rows will be popping, so if you don’t have a design and long-term plan for your site… this is the best time to do it! This Garden 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. We 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 to Plant

  • Sunflowers
  • Snapdragons
  • Violas and Pansies
  • Nasturtiums

Perennial Flowers and Around the House

  • Mulching! This is the optimum time to mulch and start applying a layer of compost to your garden and food forest areas (especially end of February). 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 Seed the Stars.
  • 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 cold hardy trees and shrubs while they are in (or close to dormancy). In Central Florida, this is the perfect time to plant peaches, plum, nectarine, mulberries, elderberries, 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.
  • NOTE: Wait to plant tropical trees like avocado, mango, strawberry tree until Easter.
  • Cover Crops: Durana clover (or other clover mixes) can be planted during warm spells, and red winter wheat can also be planted for chicken forage. There are also other cold season cover crops that can be interplanted, like radish, turnip, beet, etc.
  • 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

February Garden To Do List

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 if diseased.
  • 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 a few 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.

What To Do Before an Ice Storm

how to prepare for an ice storm

If you live in a cold climate region, you have probably been faced with the occasional freak out on social media regarding ice storms.  In many areas, the mention of an ice storm is cause for grocery stores and gas stations to look as though we are on the brink of the apocalypse.  Years ago, people knew how to handle themselves without electricity, water, or gas, but modern families are often completely in the dark when it comes to this.  So, if you are wondering what to do before an ice storm, this is the starter article for you.

What to Do Before an Ice Storm
Preparing for winter storms in the Midwest

Before progressing, remember, an ice storm is not the end of the world, you are not going to freeze to death, and social media will carry on without you for a day or two.  Before taking any of these steps, it is important to remember that more often than not, the weather service will blow storm possibilities to mammoth proportions.  Just remember, if they did not, the backlash for people not being warned could be devastating.  So, don’t freak out – just be wise.  Take a few practical steps beforehand and you and your family can enjoy the ice in peace and warmth.

Here are some key items to do the day or two before an ice event.

1 – Make sure you have kerosene / heaters ready in case the power goes out. Test them before using and NEVER use while sleeping. They give of toxic fumes, so should always be used with an open window or ventilation.  If you don’t have these, make sure to connect with a neighbor with a fireplace .  You can offer to help chop wood or provide soup in exchange.  
2 – Have water stored and ready.   Use empty bottles, pots, pans, and even the bathtub to store water.
3 – Wash clothes and dishes immediately, in the event you loose power.   In Kansas City we have lost power for over a week and having clean underwear sure helps make things brighter (and less stinky).
4 – Open cabinets of sinks / drains / pipes on outer walls.  Providing proper air flow can help prevent pipes from freezing.
5 – Precook a meal or two. Plan your “no power menus”.  Do not let anyone open or close your refrigerator – under any circumstance.  Store food in coolers in the garage for easy access.  The more you open the freezer and refrigerator doors (even a few times) will let out the cold, causing your food to spoil.
6 – Make sure you have a full propane tank of gas for your outdoor grill.  Meals that can be cooked on the stovetop can often be cooked on the grill.  Use cast iron pans on your grill.
7 – Buy some cheep candles at the Dollar store.  You can use these for making homemade heaters, light, and to simply brighten the house on these ice days.
8 – Pre-salt your outdoor steps to prevent ice buildup. Leave a granola bar for the mail man too .
9 – Make sure pets, animals, chickens have food / water and are protected. Add extra straw and bedding, and feed cracked corn to increase body heat.  Learn how to keep chickens warm in the winter here.
10 – Close shades and blinds to prevent drafts indoors.  It may be beautiful to let the sunshine in, but remember, most houses (even with quality windows) are drafty.  Pulling the blinds will help keep the heat in.  With this in mind, limit or restrict going outside, but if you do, be sure to open / close the door quickly.
11 – Charge electronic devices and be prepared to turn off all power strips in the event of a brown out. Intermittent surges can damage appliances.
12 – Check on your neighbors, especially those who are elderly or single.  Generally speaking, we should be checking in on our neighbors anyway, but during a snow storm, doing so once a day is a common human courtesy.

Additional Tips on What to Do Before an Ice Storm

What to Do Before an Ice Storm
Are you ready for an ice storm?

Once you have the basic covered, here are a few extra tips for you to prepare a little more and make things a tad more exciting.

  • Find old board games to play and books that you have not read in a while.  Organize family game and reading time – snuggle!
  • If you have a generator, test it out and be sure to hook it up properly.  Youtube this or have a professional show you, because you can fry your home electrical panel if you do it improperly.
  • Fill up your bird feeders before hand and keep warm water in the bird bath.   Watching birds out the window can provide great family entertainment during snow and ice storms.
  • If you are on a prescription medication, get refills before the storm arrives.
  • Brainstorm a list of activities and old games you played as a child: charades, win / lose or draw, coloring books, indoor hide and seek, fort building, etc.
  • Make some Mulled Honey Mead and curl up under a blanket.  FREE RECIPE HERE

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.

November Garden To-Do List for USDA Zones 9-11

November Garden Tasks

Home, Garden, & Food Forest To-Do List

Finally – the summer heat has ended and there are slightly cooler temps in the forecast.  While some fruit trees and berry bushes are finishing up their production, the annual vegetable garden is ramping up and starting to produce.  In the cooler climates (USDA Zones 3-8), the gardening season is just ending, but here in the south we are just getting started.  If you are looking for the “November To-Do List” for USDA Zones 3-8, click here.

For those of you in USDA Zones 9-11… here is your November property to-do list.  Be sure to share it with friends on social media and let’s get out into the garden together!

In the Garden

  • Things to Plant by Seed:  radishes, turnips, beets, mustard greens, Swiss chard, collard greens, bok choy, komatsuna greens, kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, cosmos, zinnia, sunflowers, and onion sets.  
  • Harvest:  Greens, kale, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, okra
  • Fall 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 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 (wood chips create a fungal dominated soil, which trees prefer).  Add another layer of straw around garden veggies, because straw creates a bacterially dominated soil, which is preferred by annual veggies.

Winter Mexican Avocado is a late season cultivar. Ripens November through January.

In the Greenhouse

  • Start taking cuttings: cranberry hibiscus, roselle, surinam spinach, longevity spinach, etc. Save cuttings in a protected area for your “insurance policy” in case we have a hard winter.
  • Trees to plant: peach, plum, pear, nectarine, blueberry, elderberry, loquat, moringa, pecan, persimmon, black surinam cherry, yellow star cherry, etc. A Natural Farm, located in Central Florida has an incredible selection of certified organic fruit trees and berry bushes for Zones 8-11 and they actually ship nationwide.
  • Clean and sterilize equipment and unused pots
  • Set mouse traps to control critters in sheds and greenhouses
  • Hang up yellow jacket traps
  • Prepare to remove your shade cloths, and have your solar tarps put back up
  • Move orchids, vanilla, pandan, and other cold sensitive plants into the greenhouse

Time to start moving orchids indoors on cooler nights

In the Food Forest

  • Harvest Berries: dwarf ever-bearing mulberry, Barbados cherry, strawberry tree, etc.
  • Harvest ripe fruit: Sugar apple, star fruit (carambola), java plum, June plum, winter Mexican avocado, Apple cactus, dragon fruit, pineapples, Jaboticaba, persimmon, etc. Many varieties available online at A Natural Farm.
  • Plant cold hardy fruit trees: Peach, pear, plum, nectarine, blueberry, elderberry, tropical cherries, loquats, etc. Use our FREE GUIDE on “How to Plant a Fruit Tree or Berry Bush” as a quick tutorial.
  • Probiotic time! This is an excellent time to refresh the probiotic in your soil, spray fruit trees, berry bushes, and help activate compost piles before winter. We recommend using BioAg
  • 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.
  • Chop & Drop: Time to harvest the last of the moringa, legumes, and pigeon pea for chop-and-drop. Chop and drop your pigeon peas and Mexican sunflowers.
  • Watch for fungal issues on leaves and apply organic neem spray as needed. This time of year with cool air and moisture, fungal issues can pop-up overnight. Trees that are the most susceptible: sugar apple, sour sop, June plum, kratom, ginger, and coffee.
  • Bananas: leave all the dead leaves around the truck for winter insulation. Do not cut the dead matter back until Easter.
  • Hold off on fertilizing and composting until February. Focus on mulch. Plants need to focus this time of year on root growth and hardening off (instead of new foliage growth).
  • Pastures: Plant wildflower seeds (in small batches) to make use of the last of the rainy season. Plant black oats, winter wheat, daikon radish, turnips, clover mix, and sunflowers.
  • TIP: When your neighbors rake their leaves and do their fall yard clean-up, ask for the bags of leaf litter (usually out at the road) to add to your compost pile. That’s free organic matter to help build your soil! Their trash is your treasure.

Persimmon are best when fully ripe or after falling from the tree.

In the Shed

  • After heavy summer use, give power tools a quick check (oil, air filters, and clean off exteriors). Use SeaFoam in each power tool to help clean things out a bit.
  • 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.
  • Check for holes in the walls or along the floor to prevent mice from entering over the winter. Fill or patch accordingly.
  • Bleach all storage containers to sterilize them for the winter.
  • Plug in ultrasonic mouse deterrents to prevent nesting during winter months.

In the Chicken Coop

  • Chickens:  Feed extra protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and B-vitamins this month. Birds are finishing with their fall molting season, so they need the extra boost to help replenish their feathers and energy reserves. You can help them out by feeding them live minnows, meal worms, canned tuna, etc.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Add BioLiveStock (probiotics) to all animal waterers this month to help their microbiome and gut health as they enter the winter months.
  • Plant winter cover crops on previously foraged areas: clover, radish, turnip, sorghum, sunflower, and lezpedeza.
  • Feed spent pumpkins and fall gourds to the chickens and goats. they might need to be cut open first, but this highly nutritious snack is perfect for the barnyard friends!
Chickens eating a ground cover of wheatgrass, radish, and clover.

Around the House

  • Open up the windows on cooler days to help air out the house and let in fresh air
  • Check batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Wash windows (inside and out). Use a product like “Invisible Glass” to avoid streaks.
  • Spray tire shine and protectant on vehicle and trailer tires to prevent winter damage
  • Slow down or stop fertilization from November – February (especially nitrogen). Instead, use kelp to help stimulate uptake of remaining minerals and stimulate root growth.
Bring gourds, pumpkins, and squash indoors are “store” on your table as an edible decoration until you are ready to eat them. Collect dried grasses and branches while out on nature walks, but always ask for permission if you don’t own the land yourself.

In the Perennial Flower Beds

  • Dead-heading: Only cut back perennials with “soft stems” that will rot over the winter. Leave as many seed heads and spent flowers as you can for winter homes for insects and food sources for wild birds. Wait until early spring to cut them back.
  • Cut back any spent annual flowers and begin planting winter flowers (pansies, snapdragons, violas, cosmos, zinnia, etc.)
  • Take cuttings of cassava, Mexican Sunflower, chaya, etc. Store indoors OR start them in a protected porch.
  • Add extra wood chips to areas that are in full sun in order to protect soil health and microbial activity
  • Before a rainy day, add probiotics to your soil for the winter months. This is a great way to help balance out nematodes in the soil, build soil structure, and improve overall soil health. You can purchase organic products like BioAG (that’s what we have used for over a decade), which will store on the shelf for years and has a fantastic probiotic blend.

Fall is a great time to plant native wild flower seed mixes

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

See you in the Garden!

November Garden To-Do List for USDA Zones 3-8

November Garden Tasks

 

The outdoor air is now officially crisp and has the smell of autumn.  The mornings require jackets and scarves, and the evenings are perfect for snuggling under a blanket next to a campfire.  It’s time to finish cleaning up from the growing season and get ready for winter rest and winter planning.  This November Garden To-Do List is geared toward those in cooler climate areas (USDA Zones 3-8), but if you are looking for a list for this month for USDA Growing Zones 9-11, CLICK HERE.

For those of you enjoying “true fall”… here is your November property to-do list.  Be sure to share it with friends on social media and let’s get out into the garden together!

In the Garden

  • Things to Plant by Seed:  Garlic and spring bulbs.  For a list of what you can do all winter for spring bulbs…click here.  
  • Harvest:  The last of the winter veggies… kale, cabbage, fall turnips, Swiss chard, and greens.
  • Mulch:  It’s time to cover those gardens for the winter.  NEVER leave soil exposed to the winter elements in the garden, food forest, or flower beds.  Add wood chips around fruit trees and berry bushes (wood chips create a fungal dominated soil, which trees prefer).  Keep the chips away from the stems and trucks though.   Add another layer of straw around garden veggies, because straw creates a bacterially dominated soil, which is preferred by annual veggies.  These will decompose slowly over the winter and make things nice and rich for you in the springtime. 

Enjoy the last blooms of the native asters before they go into dormancy. Save seed to spread other places too!

In the Greenhouse

  • Start taking cuttings: If you are planting in the ground, it’s time to start greens like radishes, turnips, and beets. If you are planting in raised beds or tray in the green house, you can do much of the same and even microgreens!
  • Clean and sterilize equipment and unused pots
  • Store pots in a shed or garage with cardboard between them to prevent winter cracking
  • Set mouse traps to control critters in sheds and greenhouses
  • Stop fertilizing all houseplants until spring

Cold season flowers and cover crops can be grown in the greenhouse or polytunnel all winter long! This calendula pic was from December in Kansas.

In the Food Forest

  • Harvest ripe fruit: Persimmon, last of the paw paw, acorns, nuts, and other final forest gifts.
  • Plant cold hardy fruit trees: Peach, plum, pear, nectarine, blueberry, elderberry, goji berry, lingonberry, aronia berry, hazelnut, pecan, persimmon, and appleUse our FREE GUIDE on “How to Plant a Fruit Tree or Berry Bush” as a quick tutorial.
  • Probiotic time! This is an excellent time to refresh the probiotic in your soil, spray fruit trees, berry bushes, and help activate compost piles before winter. We recommend using BioAg, by SCDProbiotics.
  • 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.
  • Chop & Drop: Time to harvest the last of the legume trees (honeysuckle, Japanese pagoda, Siberian pea, Russian Olive, etc.) and drop them at the base of your fruit trees.
  • Watch for fungal issues on leaves and apply organic neem spray as needed. This time of year with cool air and moisture, fungal issues can pop-up overnight, so a nice fall application can help prevent this damage over the winter months.
  • Pastures: Sow wildflower seeds to improve pasture health.
  • TIP: When your neighbors rake their leaves and do their fall yard clean-up, ask for the bags of leaf litter (usually out at the road) to add to your compost pile. That’s free organic matter to help build your soil! Their trash is your treasure.

Persimmon are best when fully ripe or after falling from the tree.

In the Shed

  • After heavy fall use, give power tools a quick check (oil, air filters, and clean off exteriors). Use SeaFoam in each power tool to help clean things out a bit before fall storage.
  • 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 while they are stored for the winter.
  • Check for holes in the walls or along the floor to prevent mice from entering over the winter. Fill or patch accordingly.
  • Bleach all storage containers to sterilize them for the winter.
  • Plug in ultrasonic mouse deterrents to prevent nesting during winter months.

In the Chicken Coop

  • Chickens:  Feed extra protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and B-vitamins this month. Birds are finishing with their fall molting season, so they need the extra boost to help replenish their feathers and energy reserves. You can help them out by feeding them live minnows, meal worms, canned tuna, etc. Do NOT heat your coops over the winter. Instead, follow this guide on “How to Help Chickens Stay Warm in the Winter.
  • 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.
  • Add wood ash to the dustbath to help prevent and treat lice and mites.
  • Add BioLiveStock (probiotics) to all animal waterers this month to help their microbiome and gut health as they enter the winter months.
  • Feed spent pumpkins and fall gourds to the chickens and goats. They might need to be cut open first, but this highly nutritious snack is perfect for the barnyard friends!
Chickens eating a ground cover of wheatgrass, radish, and clover.

Around the House

  • Open up the windows on warmer days to help air out the house and let in fresh air
  • Check batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Have chimney cleaned and inspected before starting for the first time in the winter
  • Spray tire shine and protectant on vehicle and trailer tires to prevent winter damage
  • Slow down or stop fertilization from November – February (especially nitrogen). Instead, use kelp to help stimulate uptake of remaining minerals and stimulate root growth.
Bring gourds, pumpkins, and squash indoors are “store” on your table as an edible decoration until you are ready to eat them. Collect dried grasses and branches while out on nature walks, but always ask for permission if you don’t own the land yourself.

In the Perennial Flower Beds

  • Dead-heading: Only cut back perennials with “soft stems” that will rot over the winter. Leave as many seed heads and spent flowers as you can for winter homes for insects and food sources for wild birds. Wait until early spring to cut them back.
  • Add extra wood chips to areas that are in full sun in order to protect soil health and microbial activity
  • Before a rainy day, add probiotics to your soil for the winter months. This is a great way to help balance out nematodes in the soil, build soil structure, and improve overall soil health. You can purchase organic products like BioAG (that’s what we have used for over a decade), which will store on the shelf for years and has a fantastic probiotic blend.

Fall is a great time to plant native wild flower seed mixes

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

See you in the Garden!

October Gardening To-Do List for Zones 3-8

Blue River Forest Experience in Overland Park, KS

Here is a list of things you should be doing in your yard in the month of October. Pay attention to the garden, house, shed, orchard, animals, and of course… the kiddos! This is your October Gardening To-Do list for Zones 3-8. For a list specific to USDA Growing Zones 9-11, click here.

In the garden

  • Harvest late season veggies that you planted in August, including: kale, lettuce, cucumbers, swiss chard, brassicas, etc.
  • Harvest and process the last of your late summer veggies (especially nightshades) like tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, etc. Watch the weather carefully for early frosts, so you can cover plants with sheets or poly-tunnels to extend your growing season.
  • Harvest and dry herbs (rosemary, holy basil, oregano, etc.)
  • Plant garlic for next year.
  • Save seeds and store in a cool, dry place.
  • Store winter veggies like squash and pumpkins.
  • Plant cover crop mixes for the winter (clover, legumes, vetch, winter wheat, etc) OR cover your soil with 4-6″ of straw or wood chips. Never leave garden soil exposed to the elements, especially in the winter.
  • Apply winter probiotic spray (I use BioAg by SCD Probiotics) to all gardens, flower beds, and orchard soil. I use this both as a foliar and soil spray to help keep microflora healthy and the soil biome in pristine condition.
  • Test garden soil and make fall amendments. As a general rule, this time of year is the most ideal for adding a LIGHT layer of compost (you don’t want to stimulate new growth), and for spreading wood chips and mulch.
BioAg Probiotic Concentrate

In the Greenhouse

  • Plant another round of: kale, cabbage, Swiss chard, radishes, diakon, mixed greens, snow peas, etc.
  • Plant seeds that need winter stratification, like Paw Paw, so they get a jumpstart in the springtime.
  • Bring all outdoor pots inside the greenhouse to extend growing season.
  • Start cleaning tools. All metal should to cleaned with steel wool and then rubbed down with oil to protect them over the winter. Store in a dry place to prevent rusting.
October Gardening To-Do List | Plant Diakon Radishes

In the Food Forest

  • Harvest apples, paw paw, persimmons, blackberries, and any remaining fruit.
  • Spray all fruit trees with probiotic spray, neam oil (for bugs and fungus control), and keep areas beneath the trees clear of waste.
  • Fresh compost and mulch around the base of the trees for winter. You can also use chopped leaves from trees around your yard. Do NOT use other fruit tree leaves if you can avoid it, because you don’t want to let any fungus or disease overwinter in the food forest.
  • Divide plants that are big enough to multiply and share (i.e. comfrey, berries, perennial flowers, etc.)
  • Harvest any remaining herbs (dry them, make tinctures, give away, or make an herbal broth for cooking). Some herbs can actually be frozen in olive oil (using ice cube trays) for use over the winter.
  • Plant cover crops for the winter in any lanes or open spaces.
  • Plant new trees in the orchard and food forest once leaves have dropped. Fall is perfect for planting!

In the Shed

  • Empty and store flower pots that have run their course. Wash and allow to dry, so you can start fresh in the springtime
  • Clean and oil all tools
  • Empty gas from machines that are finished for the season. Consider adding a fuel injector cleaner the last time you use them, so everything is ready for storage.
  • Add mouse traps. TIP: You can also soak cotton balls or fabric in water with peppermint essential oil and put them in the corners to deter mice.

In the Chicken Coop for October

  • Feed extra protein (meal worms, black oiled sunflower seeds, bugs, etc.) to help them with molting season.
  • Add a small amount of corn to their diet to help with caloric intake before winter.
  • Purchase suet blocks (>5% protein) as you see them on sale for winter prep.
  • Clean and sterilize your coop and get ready for winterizing (have extra straw on hand for the winter months).
  • Make plans for water freezing over the winter (more next month). Add probiotics to your water to get birds healthy for winter. You can use a mixture of honey, apple cider vinegar, and garlic powder as one approach. I also rotate in BioLivestock, which is a blend of probiotics, beneficial microbes, and bio-fermented organic acids.
  • Add garden and flower bed cuttings to their run for them to “go through” and eat bugs and seeds before composting them.
  • Feed pumpkin and squash 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.
October Gardening To-Do List
October Gardening To-Do List

Around the House

  • Clean out gutters on eavestroughs
  • Check caulk around windows and doors
  • Check / change light bulbs around the yard
  • Chop leaves as they fall by mowing them up. Never rake and put them to the road, because you are literally sending nutrients away from your yard.
  • Prune dead branches and chop for burning
  • Power wash sidewalks, sides of house, etc
  • Drain and store hoses if the weather starts freezing
  • Change air filters on HVAC and check pilot lights on your heater before turning everything on. It’s also smart to vacuum out all ductwork / register vents and add a few drops of essential oils to them to keep things fresh.
  • Fall clean out of the garage and shed
  • Put up any winter window treatments (shrink film on thin windows)
  • Check batteries on carbon monoxide detectors (replace every three years) and check batteries on smoke detectors.
  • Chimney maintenance and fire place testing
cut back spent perennials

Perennial Flower Beds in October

  • Cut back spent plants, but leave as much as you can for winter interest, especially if there are seed heads. I recommend pruning back fully in the spring, because many butterflies and beneficial insects have already laid eggs and are in a chrysalis form on your plants now, and they will not hatch until spring.
  • Plant spring bulbs. Rule of thumb… buy 2-3x as much as you THINK you want, because you’ll always want more.
  • Remove and compost faded annuals. Don’t throw them away – definitely compost them!
  • Divide large perennials and multiply in your garden OR share with friends.
  • Store tender bulbs like cannas, elephant ears, and dahlias.
  • Cover all soil with either compost, chopped leaves from your yard, or wood chips. NEVER leave your soil exposed to the winter elements.

Ideas for Kids

fall turkeys
Turkeys out foraging their fall meals
  • Make a fort with sticks and branches and then cover in leaves
  • Have at least a few times where you rake piles of leaves and let the kids jump and play
  • Make fall bird feeders and put them around the yard
  • Use peanut butter and spread on the trunks of trees, then press birdseed into it to attract woodpeckers
  • Fall nature walks are a must
  • Take the kids to a greenhouse this fall. Many local nurseries offer free fall activities for kids, pumpkin patches, etc.
  • Buy each kid a tree / shrub to plant in the yard or food forest. Help them pick it out and let them know it’s “their tree”.

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.

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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