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 Garden To-Do List for Zones 9-11

Fall is officially here! The rainy season has come to an end, hurricane season is in full force, and winter gardening prep is now the #1 priority. Whew…what a rush! Although many southern states don’t get the color change that Midwest do, we are all still grateful for the slightly less oppressive heat and cooler nights. I can already smell the campfires coming over the next couple months.

That being said, it’s also a busy time for farmers and home gardeners. So, here is your list of things to do in your yard during 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 9-11. For a list specific to USDA Growing Zones 3-8, click here.

In the garden

  • Plant seeds for: carrots, onions, radishes (all types), turnips, and other root crops. It’s also important to stagger your lettuce and kale plantings, so they have various ripening times.
  • Plant baby starts of: Beets, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, sugarcane, Swiss chard, etc. If you have any tomato (or other nightshade) seedlings left – go ahead and get them in the ground now too. Last chance on those guys.
  • Cover soil with straw! Never leave garden soil exposed to the elements. Remember, most veggies prefer a bacterially dominated soil, which is created by decomposing grass and straw.
  • Apply Fall probiotic spray (I use BioAg by SCD Probiotics) to all gardens, flower beds, and orchard soil. I use this both as a foliar spray and soil drench to help keep microflora healthy and the soil biome in pristine condition.
  • Test garden soil and make necessary 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, peas, etc.
  • Remove shade cloth and get ready to apply winter plastic that may need replacing.
  • Look for areas that have mold, mildew, or fungus after the rainy season. Address each appropriately with neem, Basic H cleaner, etc.
florida sweet potatoes
October Gardening To-Do List | Harvest sweet potatoes that have been growing for 130-150 days. Plant new slips from plants that did well. Remember, in zones 9-11, we can plant sweet potatoes year round!

In the Food Forest

  • Harvest tropical spinaches, edible hibiscus, sweet potato greens and other low-growing plants. Continue harvesting tropical cherries (Barbados, Cherry of the Rio, Pitangatuba, etc.) and other fall tropical fruit.

• Avocado
• Barbados cherry

• Carambola • Citrus
• Dragon Fruit • Fig

• Guava
• Hibiscus (edible)
• Katuk (leaves & berries) • Moringa
• Mulberry
• Passion Fruit
• Peanut Butter Fruit
• Pecan
• Persimmon
• Peruvian Apple Cactus • Soursop
• Strawberry tree
• Sugar Apple
• Sweet potato harvesting • Tropical spinaches

  • Spray all fruit trees with probiotic spray, neem 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 summer 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.
  • STOP planting tropical trees that are cold sensitive, like mango, avocado, strawberry tree, etc. Wait until Easter time to plant these in the ground. If you want to purchase them this fall, just be sure to leave them in a pot until springtime. This can actually be beneficial, because you can purchase a smaller tree, upsize the pot, and let it fill in over the winter. Then when spring arrives, you have a tree that has grown a foot and is acclimated to your particular site.
  • Save seeds from: Roselle, cranberry hibiscus, and other tropical plants that die back for the winter. Also, get ready to start harvesting and drying Roselle calyx for a nice winter tea.
  • Chop and drop: Mexican Sunflower, moringa, comfrey, pigeon pea.
Roselle caylx ready for drying and winter storage

In the Shed

  • Get out fall decorations
  • Clean and oil all tools
  • Consider adding a fuel injector cleaner to 2-cycle engine equipment to give them a fall tune-up.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • Add probiotics to your water to get birds healthy before 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. I love adding Spanish needle because of it’s amazing health benefits for animals and livestock.
  • 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 part of your preventative maintenance regime.
Nitrogen fixing plants are ready for a nice fall chop-and-drop

Around the House

  • Clean out gutters and 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.
  • Power wash sidewalks, sides of house, etc.
  • 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
  • Check batteries on carbon monoxide detectors (replace every three years) and check batteries on smoke detectors.
Cranberry Hibiscus – Time to look for seed head and cut them off to save for next spring. When Roselle, Kenaf, and cranberry hibiscus start to look rough or get powdery mildew, cut them back immediately and replant in the spring. This is normal for them to start looking a mess this time of year.

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 winter annuals: pansy, cosmos, zinnia, viola, snapdragons, etc.
  • Divide large perennials and multiply in your garden OR share with friends.
  • 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

Teach kids a new outdoor activity.
  • Make a fort with sticks and branches and then cover in leaves
  • 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”
  • Consider teaching kids a new outdoor sport or activity

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”.

How to Prepare Your Garden for a Hurricane

Every climate zone offers unique beauty and wonder, but at the same time they each have their own challenges. Unfortunately, in many subtropical areas, hurricanes are one of the primary natural challenges that we face. While there are many things to do inside your home to prepare, there are also some practical things to do in the garden before a hurricane. So, whether you are new to food forest work or this all all “old hat” for you, perhaps this checklist will help you remember a few things as you prepare your garden and yard for a potential hurricane.

how to prepare your garden for a hurricane
  1. Remove hanging flower pots and take down wind chimes and hanging bird, feeders, and decorations. Walk through your yard a few days before and just start taking down anything that’s hanging. Once you think you have it all, come back after a few hours and walk through again to double check everything.
  2. Turn over bird baths and lay on the ground.
  3. Bring patio furniture and umbrellas into a garage or shed. If you don’t have an indoor place, secure them to poles or against the house. Tables should always be turned over.
  4. Secure kids play items. This includes removing trampoline covers and tops, or turning them over and putting bricks on top. Bring smaller plastic playhouses into the garage or secure in place.
  5. Select prune trees with large leaves. These large leaves are going to get ripped to shreds anyway, and would usually take down the tree – so prune before the wind hits. To give them their best chance, cut bananas back to one leaf. Or even cut papaya to the trunk. We recommend this with things like banana, papaya, canna lily, etc. 
    1. Banana pruning tutorial video – CLICK HERE
    2. Tropical spinach pruning tutorial video – CLICK HERE
  6. Harvest annual flowers, sunflowers, decorative plants, etc. Save seeds from varieties that have already bloomed like Jamaican sorrel, cranberry hibiscus, butterfly pea, etc.  Better to save seeds and have some to restart next year incase you need it as insurance.
  7. Use large T-post stakes to tie up younger fruit trees. Always use straps – never rope.  Rope will cut and damage the bark. These can be removed after the storm has passed to allow the tree trunk to strengthen naturally.
  8. Roll up awnings, close available window shutters, and move your car out from under tree branches or store vehicles in a garage.  RV’s can be strapped to the ground or to nearby trees to hold in place.
  9. Harvest fruit that is “close” to being ripe and bring indoors.  This should be done just before the storm, just in case the weather changes.   Many times the forecast will change even as the storm is coming in.
  10. Make sure your water catchment and drainage systems are ready. Be prepared to watch the water flow on your site so you can adjust later.  During the storm, look for problematic areas where you need to divert water flow at a later time through swales, French drains, etc.
  11. Prepare to have dogs and cats brought indoors.  Have some herbal or natural calming meds ready for dogs before the storm begins.  Calming aids should be given an hour before the storm arrives and then as prescribed there after. Play soft music or turn a TV on for the animals to help drown out the noise.
  12. Secure livestock and animals.  Bring appropriate animals inside barns or shelters when available.   Remember, animals like cows and horses are not necessarily native here. They are not built for this. Utilize dog crates and kennels for smaller animals (chickens, quail, ducks, etc.). This may need to be done the night before when animals are calm, and then they are kept inside the 24 hours prior to the storm. Dim lighting will help keep animals calmer.
  13. Don’t “panic buy” from the grocery store. Have enough of your weekly items, but don’t stock up and short someone else.   Fill a few extra jugs with water and freeze them. That way if the power goes out, you have the ice to keep things cool and water to melt and drink. 
  14. Check on your elderly neighbors, single parents, or shut-ins to see if they need help.  Do not assume that just because they have family that they are ok. Consider using phrases like, “What is something I can do for you this afternoon to help you prepare for the storm?” Or if it’s an elderly person, just let them know that you are bringing over a frozen meal for them the day before and afterwards. Bring them over some of the flowers you cut from the garden as a way to connect and then see how you can help them prepare. Text them during the storm again to check in on them. Be the change you want to see in the world around you.
  15. Have a good book, candles, and some extra snacks on hand.  Don’t spend the storm worrying. Have a nice cup of tea or glass of wine and enjoy the adventure. Stay calm and take pictures along the way. Tag @permacultureFX on social media with your storm prep pics so together we can help inspire others to prepare with wisdom.

We’ll see you in the garden again…after the storm!

September Gardening To-Do List for Zones 9-11

September Garden to do list subtropical climates

The last days of summer have arrived…

Summer is coming to a close and we are also nearing the end of the rainy season in many southern states.  Though temps are still high, we are now officially in annual vegetable gardening season.  As most of the US is finishing their veg gardens, we are just getting started!   So if you want to plant those tomatoes, pepper, eggplants, and squash – the season is now upon us! Needless to say, there are plenty of things to keep us southerns folks busy in the garden and around the homestead.

Please note, this specific list is catered to those living in USDA Zones 9-11, so if you are looking for Zones 3-8 – click here.  

Without further adieu, here is your September Gardening To-Do List!

September Gardening To-Do List

In the Garden

  • Things to plant by seed:  beats, brussels, collards, eggplant, kale, lettuce, peppers, swiss chard, tomatoes, and one last round of tropical spinaches.  Plus, you can start planting beans a little at a time this month!  We also recommend continuing to plant a few squash, pumpkins, carrots, and cucumber seeds each week.   We suggest staggering your planting this month, so all your cucumbers aren’t ripe at once.  Typically, this is our strategy with most varieties of annual veggies.
  • Onions:  Start planting bunching onions
  • Pumpkins:  Keep plantings through the second week of the month.
  • Tropical greens:   Harvest and enjoy your tropical spinaches (longevity, Okinawa, Surinam, Brazilian, etc.) all month long!  Start looking for flowers to dry so you can save seed for next year.  
  • Brassicas:   Wait until the last week of the month for most cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.  
  • Fertilize:  This is a great month to apply compost to the garden and food forest!  Composted manure is our favorite for the garden and mushroom compost in the food forest.  Other great amendments for this month include:  azomite (minerals), fish emulsion, blood meal, kelp, folic acid, and epsom salts (which is actually magnesium).  
Spicy Turmeric Flower

Turmeric and Ginger are all in flower this month! These are fun little surprises that often hide at the base of the plants. Be sure to pay attention!

In the Greenhouse

  • Time to start planning to remove shade cloth (end of the month). Check to see if any greenhouse windows or plastic needs to be ordered before winter months.
  • Keep air flowing! September is still pretty wet in many parts of the south, so be sure to encourage proper airflow to prevent mold and mildew.
  • Check mouse traps regularly, because animals will start looking for their fall homes soon.
  • Start fall propagations of fruit trees and berry bushes from cuttings. It’s a great time to propagate mulberries, elderberry, sweet almond shrub, African blue basil, start avocado and mango seeds, etc.
jaboticaba fruit

Jaboticaba are producing a nice fall harvest in many areas this month! It’s also a great time to save those seeds and start planting new plants that can be overwintered in a greenhouse or indoors.

In the Food Forest

  • Harvest: enjoy the last of the mangoes and start preparing for sugar apple, atemoya, and chermoya! Avocado season has also officially begun! Look for guava, more tropical cherries, and java plums later this month. Strawberry trees, acerola, and goji are in high production right now – so get out there and enjoy!
  • Fertilization: Use mushroom compost as much as possible. 1-2″ deep at the base of the trees (away from the trunk) and then cover with wood chip mulch. Always make sure your compost is “cool” before applying. If it’s hot to the touch when you receive it… let it sit for a few weeks to cool off before applying to your fruit trees. Always water thoroughly immediately after applying compost.
  • Avos and Mangoes: The first week of September is the last opportune time to plant new avocado, strawberry trees and mangoes if you are in North or Central Florida. Otherwise, they may not have time to root in properly before winter months.
  • Berries: This is an ideal time to plant tropical berries and cherries like strawberry guava, Barbados cherry, pitangatuba, Cherry of the Rio, etc.
  • Stone fruit: It’s best to WAIT to plant peach, pear, plum, nectarine trees until fall or winter dormancy.
  • Plant late summer ground cover, like buckwheat, to create biomass coming into fall.
florida pasture maintenance for september

In the Shed

  • Keep tools oiled. This time of year is often hot and humid… the perfect recipe for rusty tools.
  • Check mouse traps and keep animal feed in sealed containers. Give the feed shed a nice cleaning to prevent critters from finding their “fall homes” in areas you don’t want them.
  • Look for estate sales for garden tools. Many of the new (plastic) ones are junk! The best tools are the old wooden handled tools that are available at estate sales. Instead of buying new, consider up-cycling.

In the Chicken Coop

  • Chickens:  Spring chickens have finally started laying eggs! They should be given plenty of fresh greens and can now have supplemental calcium. For calcium supplements, you can use crushed oyster shells or aragonite.
  • Quail:  It’s time to start helping the quail get ready for winter months. Extra protein, bug treats, dried grass heads, etc. are always a boost to their health. TIP: Dry flower petals and grasses to add to their nesting areas to help simulate their native habitats in the prairie.
  • Plant fall foraging areas using a native wildlife seed mix. Plant a mix specifically for chickens. We like the Happy Hen Mix from Hancock Seed Co.
chickens and mealworms

Offer mealworms, beetles, and other insects as a healthy protein treat to help boost the health of your flock as they go into the fall season. This helps prepare their bodies for fall molting (that is right around the corner).

Around the House

  • Run dehumifiers to keep the indoor humidity between 30-50%. This is the ideal range for health and to prevent mold, fungus, and bacterial growth.
  • Replace your HVAC filters
  • 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. Put moisture collecting crystals (like DampRid) in the cupboards of RV’s to prevent mold in storage.
  • Spray tire shine and protectant on vehicle and trailer tires to prevent sun damage
  • Fertilize house plants at regular strength until the end of the month, then taper off in late October. Do not fertilize house plants in the winter months… allow them to go “dormant” as well.
garden ideas

Make gnome or fairy houses with kids as a late summer / early fall project.

Also, start scoping out some local apple orchards, pumpkin patches, and corner mazes.

In the Perennial Flower Beds

  • Dead-heading: Cut back spent flowers in order to get a final bloom. Spent flower heads can be fed to chickens or composted.
  • Fertilize: Use compost to fertilize annual flower beds at the beginning of the month. Then toward the end of the month, use a fish emulsion / sea kelp foliar spray (like that from GS Plant Food) on flowers, fruit trees, and berries.
  • Plant annual flowers for fall color: sunflowers, zinnia, cosmos, celosia, broom corn, etc.
  • Plant fall flowers like chrysanthemums for autumn color. They can actually be grown in the ground as well and will come back every year in most regions. It’s also a great time to plant wild flower seeds en-mass. Companies like American Meadows and Hancock Seeds have some great wildflower mix selections.
  • Bring cut flowers indoors and share with neighbors, especially those who are shut-ins or elderly
turks cap hibiscus flower
Edible flowers from Turk’s Cap Hibiscus

Enjoy the final days of summer and we’ll see you in the Garden!

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

September Gardening To-Do List for Zones 3-8

September Garden to do list temperate climates

The last days of summer have arrived…

Summer is coming to a close and the evenings are just starting to have the smell of fall in the air.  Coffee shops have started selling the pumpkin spice lattes again and gnomes and fall candles are on the end caps of every home store.  Even though it’s not officially fall just yet, many of us are ready for fall campfires, autumn hikes, and the harvest season.  In the garden, many regions are still in peak production and harvest time.  So, needless to say, there are plenty of things to keep us all busy in the garden and around the homestead.

Please note, this specific list is catered to those living in USDA Zones 3-8, so if you are looking for Zones 9-11 – click here.  

Without further adieu, here is your September Gardening To-Do List!

September Gardening To-Do List

In the Garden

  • Things to plant by seed:  beets, carrots, radishes, and turnips.  
  • Garlic:  Order / purchase garlic for next year.  Start planting garlic cloves at the end of this month. 
  • Pumpkins:  Begin to cut them and bring them indoors as soon as they are fully orange.   If you are a seed saver, be sure to collect seeds from the best and most robust plants of the season.
  • 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.
  • Tomatoes:  It’s important this month to start removing the smaller tomatoes in order to allow the medium and larger ones to ripen before the frost.  
  • Harvest:  tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and other night shades.  
  • 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.   Always collect your yard waste (leaves and grass) to apply to garden beds!
sunchokes

Jerusalem artichokes / Sunchokes are beginning to bloom! The leaves can also be used as forage for cattle, horses, goats, and (chopped) for chickens.

In the Greenhouse

  • Start organizing things now, before it gets cold. If you are planting in the ground in your hoop house or poly-tunnel, be sure to start applying lots of organic matter (like straw) in order to build a nice biomass before going into the winter months.
  • Check mouse traps regularly, because animals will start looking for their fall homes soon.
  • Watch your temperatures closely! Open windows in the greenhouses as needed.
  • Bring tropical plants in the greenhouse if it gets below 50 degrees at night. Start washing them off and preparing them for the winter relocation.

In the Food Forest

  • Harvest: apples, pears, fall berries, and any remaining stone fruit. Goji berries and raspberries are in their peak production, so be sure to harvest now and start preserving for the cooler months.
  • 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:  Finish harvesting herbs to dry and make tinctures because they are at their peak right now! Start hanging them around the house and preparing to store them for the winter months. TIP: Use those little “silica packets” in the bottom of your glass jars to absorb moisture while in storage.
  • Fallen fruit: Remember to harvest fruit as they ripen and remove those that fall to the ground. Fallen fruit attract pests, so feed them to chickens or add to the compost pile immediately. Don’t let them sit.
  • 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.
  • Plant late summer ground covers in any “bare spots” around the forest. Here are some of of our favorites – CLICK HERE.
  • Wait to plant new fruit trees and berry bushes until next month, when the heat dials down a few notches.
florida pasture maintenance for september

In the Shed

  • Start getting winter wood stove supplies ready to prepare for the coming winter. Check woodpiles to ensure they are stacked properly.
  • 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 the feed shed a nice cleaning to prevent critters from finding their “fall homes” in areas you don’t want them.
  • Give cutting tools a good cleaning (using rubbing alcohol) and oil afterwards to prevent rust.

In the Chicken Coop

  • Chickens:  Spring chickens have finally started laying eggs! They should be given plenty of fresh greens and can now have supplemental calcium. For calcium supplements, you can use crushed oyster shells or aragonite.
  • Quail:  It’s time to start helping the quail get ready for winter months. Extra protein, bug treats, dried grass heads, etc. are always a boost to their health. TIP: Dry flower petals and grasses to add to their nesting areas to help simulate their native habitats in the prairie.
  • Plant fall foraging areas using a native wildlife seed mix.
chickens and mealworms

Offer mealworms, beetles, and other insects as a healthy protein treat to help boost the health of your flock as they go into the fall season. This helps prepare their bodies for fall molting (that is right around the corner).

Around the House

  • Plant fall grass or ground covers. One of our favorite is a grass blend (that doesn’t need to be mowed) called ECOgrass by Prairie Moon Nursery. Check them out! Their wildflower mixes are also pretty incredible and can be fall planted as well.
  • Open up the windows on cooler nights to help air out the house and let in fresh air.
  • Replace your HVAC filters
  • 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. Put moisture collecting crystals (like DampRid) in the cupboards of RV’s to prevent mold in storage.
  • Spray tire shine and protectant on vehicle and trailer tires to prevent sun damage
  • Fertilize house plants at regular strength until the end of the month, then taper off in October. Do not fertilize house plants in the winter months… allow them to go “dormant” as well.
garden ideas

Make gnome or fairy houses with kids as a late summer / early fall project.

Also, start scoping out some local apple orchards, pumpkin patches, and corner mazes.

In the Perennial Flower Beds

  • Dead-heading: Cut back spent flowers in order to get a final bloom. Spent flower heads can be fed to chickens or composted.
  • Plant fall flowers like chrysanthemums for autumn color. They can actually be grown in the ground as well and will come back every year in most regions.
  • 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

Enjoy the final days of summer and we’ll see you in the Garden!

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

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