November 2019, Week 1

Okiedawn OK Zone 7
November 3, 2019

Happy November!

There's a much shorter garden To Do List now that freezing weather has occurred, and for most places it has occurred more than once.

If you have any shrubs or trees, including fruit trees, that you want to plant now, it is cool enough and that should be dormant enough, or close to it, for planting to occur. If you have any trees or shrubs in your landscape that you wish to transplant to another location, you can do that now as well, assuming the plants have endured at least one hard freeze. Fall is a great time to plant because planting now allows the plants a long period of time to grow roots and become well-established before next summer's heat arrive.

If pansies, violas, stocks, dianthus, snapdragons, ornamental cabbage, ornamental kale and similar cool-season plants still are available in your area, it is not too late to transplant them into the ground.

If you are pre-chilling Tulips and/or Dutch hyacinths prior to planting, the time to plant them is mid-December or later, after they've had a minimum of 45-60 days of pre-chilling. Other spring-blooming bulbs like grape hyacinths, regular hyacinths, summer snowflakes and daffodils/narcissus can be planted any time it is convenient for you.

The timing of your garden clean-up is your personal choice. I tend to leave all the dead plants standing, unless they were diseased, so the wild things can find food and shelter among those dead plants. Some people prefer to take out dead annuals and to trim back the browned foliage and flower stalks from recently frozen perennials at this time of the year, and that's your option if you don't want to leave them standing. If you have plants in containers, remember to water them if rain isn't falling regularly. Any diseased plant foliage should be removed so it doesn't harbor diseases and get them off to an early start in the spring garden.

Autumn leaves will begin to fall soon if they haven't already. Remember that they make great mulch and great fodder for compost piles. We don't have a lot of leaves down on the ground here yet, and most of our trees still have lots of green foliage rather late in the autumn season, but November usually is the month when all those leaves finally finish falling so I'm confident it will happen eventually.

It might not be too late to sow cover crop seeds.

Have a great week everyone! I'll be back to write more later. We have grandkids here this weekend and also are bottlefeeding tiny feral kittens whose mother abandoned them. The kitten-feeding takes most of my waking hours, but the grandkids are so excited that "we" are raising babies.


Comments (42)

  • Rebecca (7a)

    A negative about gardening in the city, is that the dead plants must be cleaned up, or you get fined. Especially vegetable plants.

  • Nancy RW (zone 7)

    Cat party at Dawn's house, I guess. How old are those little rascals? Are these bottle fed babies the white cat's offspring, Dawn? I'm a little bit jealous of all your kitties.

    I'm following your excellent example and the excellent example of other "back to nature" approaches and will do minimal clean-up for now. We really didn't have much of a fall, did we?

    Larry, I sort of misspoke. I've no problems at all with the extension office on soil samples. (But they do cost $10 per sample--maybe I'll just do 3 samples to begin with.) I was disappointed in my local extension office because of the use of pesticides (killing all that pesky henbit and dandelions, for example) and the lack of mention on pollinators or native plants. It occurred to me, that in fairness, I'm sure the offices vary from county to county. Now I've checked a few--indeed they do.

    I admit, I don't like GDW getting up on high ladders, either. He isn't crazy about it himself--certainly doesn't do it unless it's necessary. And thank goodness, it rarely is.

    Rebecca. . . speaking of dead plants. I have a lot of work to do right on the deck, moving plants out of containers! I just checked the forecast--looks like the best days are tomorrow and Tues. That will be quite a job. I may have to leave the school early so I have all afternoon to work here.

    I couldn't sleep last night; Titan decided he had to go out at 2:30 (he rarely does that), so I got up; he was back in a couple minutes later, but that was it for me until about 5:30. By then I had fed the cats and put them out. So I went back in and lay down--Garry, not realizing I'd been up for 3 hours, got up and let all the cats back in at 6:30--and they all made a beeline for me. Not feeling great anyway, with a cold and sore foot. So we stayed home from church and I took a nap. I was researching rain gardens today. I was hoping to learn we could turn low spot at the school into one. I had a wrong understanding of what they are. Darn.

    Jennifer, what an affair you had last Wednesday! Do you have any idea how many people were there?

    Well, looks like we're not going to have any real warm-ups in the weather, so we best get used to working with jackets on. Have a good week, everyone.

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  • Rebecca (7a)

    I spent the late morning yanking dead plants, and planting snapdragons and pansies. Sprinkled a few more lettuce seeds in the grow boxes, and started a few pots of oat grass in a new box. The tomatoes and peppers will have to be done later. Crocus and lily bulbs wait too.

    Dawn, I’ve been thinking about getting Audrey a little sister.

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    Rebecca, I don't miss city living at all! I don't think our city fined anyone except if they weren't keeping their grass mowed down to a reasonable length, but we've also been gone a very long time and things there may have changed in the last couple of decades. If you want one of these cats for Audrey's little sister, I can bring her to the Spring Fling. (I'm assuming at least one of the three is a girl. Tim thinks he can tell....I just look at them when they are this tiny and shrug!)

    Nancy, The white cat (who is a big, fat, white bobtailed cat) abandoned 3 of her 5 babies. They are about 2 weeks old, maybe a few days older than that but not much. She and the 5 cats had been in the back NW corner of the garage behind a shelving unit and a lot of Tim's junk. I started hearing frantic screaming Friday morning and Tim and I started searching and first found the 2 she moved outdoors near a woodpile. We thought she'd come back for the others. She didn't. So we found the two that were screaming in the garage and put them with the two she'd moved outdoors. Her response? She moved the first two immediately and didn't come back for the other two that we had found abandoned in the garage. Those two were much thinner than the two we found near the woodpile, so we think they hadn't been fed in a couple of days. So, we put them in a box with a blanket in it and moved them into the house, ran to the store and bought tiny bottles and Kitten Milk Replacer and fed them. It was not really easy. They had to try to adjust to the bottle and were so dehydrated and weak that it took a while to get them to take the little kitten bottle, but we persevered. Then we went to leave the house with the girls and heard more frantic screaming, so searched the garage and found a tiny kitten---obviously the runt, and looking more dehydrated and pitiful than the first two. Fed it, put it in the box with them, etc. and now are on a 4-hour feeding schedule with all of them. The girls are in love. I think tiny kittens are cute but the 4-hour feeding schedule is going to wear me out. We don't need more house cats, so once these are big enough, assuming they survive having inept human parents, we'll let them be garage cats, I imagine. They're all standard gray/brown tabbies. They are so young their eyes still are that baby kitten blue, and their ears are just now unfolding in the last day or so.

    We tried to explain to the kids about how you have to take a little washcloth or cotton ball and clean the babies since they are too young to clean themselves and their mother isn't here to do it. I told them that the mother cat licks them in their rear area to make them pee and poop, at which time Aurora's eyes got huge....and I quickly had to explain we wouldn't do that, we'd use a wet cotton ball or soft cloth to wash them 'down there' so that they'll pee and poop. I had to set that straight for her before she got the wrong idea because I could see the horrified expression on her face when she assumed we'd clean them just like their mama would. It was really hard to keep a straight face, and I noticed she carefully watched me clean them after they ate so she'd know for herself that no humans were cleaning the kitties by licking them. lol. At some point they'll begin cleaning themselves and peeing/pooping on their own, but it has been so long since we had a litter of cats here that I've forgotten when that occurs. Maybe around 3-4 weeks. It is hard to remember.

    I hope we aren't going to have below-average temperatures throughout November, but it sure seems to be trending that way. There's more rain coming mid-week. Really? Who needs more rain? Why can't we get this rain in July, August and September when we need it?

    With kittens underfoot and more-or-less on a 4-hour feeding schedule, we didn't do any plant shopping. It was hard enough just to get away from the house long enough to grocery shop, etc., without feeling like we needed to rush back home. We did take the kids to a movie this afternoon, and on both days so far, the kittens have needed to be fed about every 4 hours during the day, but then they slept all night without waking up, so I think that's a good sign. They are filling out and don't look dehydrated or pitiful any more, and have mastered using the smallest nipple on the baby bottle. Now we can switch to the larger nipples in a few days.

    I was hoping Lucky would like to lie down with them, snuggle them, wash them, etc. because she is our most mellow cat. Nope. She wants nothing to do with them. In fact, she went outside Friday afternoon to avoid being near them and only came indoors a few minutes ago, promptly hiding behind the sofa to avoid them. I guess she doesn't feel any maternal instinct to take care of them. Our dog, Jersey, is fascinated with them, and she is sweet and gentle, but I am not going to leave her alone with small kittens that she could devour in one single bite. I don't think she'd do it, but I don't want to find out I'm wrong about that.

    I'm too old for puppies or kittens. You have to watch them literally every second of the day and I don't have time for that. When we went to the store to get the kitten milk replacer, Tim put Jesse in his crate and apparently failed to secure the door properly. The difference in Tim and I? I always close the bedroom door so that if Jesse gets out of the crate, which he never had done so far, he still is confined within one room of the house. Tim didn't do that. So, while we were gone, Jesse got out of the crate, came downstairs and devoured a few things, including the cord to my laptop computer. That cord was up on the dining table, but he found it anyway. We have to be super careful to ensure everything is put up out of his reach....remote controls, cell phones and their chargers, fire radios and their chargers, Fitbits and their chargers, shoes, boots, gloves, etc. I keep telling Tim we are too old and too tired to be raising and training baby animals, as they require more energy than we have left nowadays.

    I cannot even seed shop online because if I give the computer more than 5 minutes of my time, the big puppy or tiny kittens begin demanding attention now, now, now....as if their goal in life is to not allow me any free time. It is going to be a very long next couple of months.


  • hazelinok

    Soft kitty. Warm kitty. Little ball of fur. Happy kitty. Sleepy kitty. Purr purr purr...

    a song for dawn.

    seriously, you are such a kind person.

  • AmyinOwasso/zone 6b

    In case you don't have this, National Wildlife Federation Native Plants. The cool thing about this is you see which plants are attractive to the most insects, AND you can look at the butterflies and see the ones that will only use one host plant. I got this from a video someone shared on FB (Nancy?) Anyway it is the author of the book Nancy got, only I can't find his name. He says to plant the host plants for those selective species because likely those plants will be used by many others, but it is the only one that one species will use. For instance, the American Snout, Gulf Fritillary only uses Passion flower, but 3 other species will also use it. The Coral Hairstreak uses Prunus Rosales (beach plum, cherry, chokecherry, peach, plum, sweet cherry, wild plum, almond) but 211 species of butterflies and moths also use it.

    Dawn, what happened to the other mother garage cat? I guess she didn't have any maternal instinct for these babies either. Not to be a downer, but I wonder if there is something wrong with them and the other cats know? We had a female cat we called dottie until he got old enough to start spraying his territory. Sadly he died shortly after we got him fixed. I DO remember the dog chewing on everything. About the time I think she's over it she proves me wrong. Caught her carrying Ron's ball cap Sat, which he didn't hang up. I usually give her a big rawhide chew to distract her. When she was young it took her days to chew one down, now she can do it in a day, but the need isn't as strong. We also had a water buffalo horn (from southern agriculture) which was fine, but it was heavy and it hurts when she drops it on your foot.

    We did some garden cleanup Sat. Ron took all the cattle panel arches down and disposed of tomato and pepper plants. He wants stuff for the compost pile. (No we did not compost tomato plants.) I had thrown some seeds out, but not many seem to have come up. I was hoping for some spinach and turnips. We do have some really nice kale and I cut broccoli sprouts off the spring broccoli plants. I can't believe they survived. I pulled cosmo seeds off the plants and threw them over the fence to the ditch in hopes of getting a few flowers there next year.

    Nancy, take care of yourself! Do you have elderberry syrup? Don't let it get bad like me.

    Rebecca's neighborhood sounds kind of picky. I expect it depends on neighbors who report you. I've sometimes wondered what the neighbors think of my backyard. My plan for next year is to put tall plants like sunflowers and amaranth and sorghum along the fence and leave them through the winter (if I can convince Ron). Then cut them down and grind them for mulch in the spring. They will have self seeded and fed the birds and sheltered whatever through the winter.

    Everyone have a good week. XOXO

  • Nancy RW (zone 7)

    I love that site link, Amy! Good of you to share it. Douglas W. Tallamy is the guy's name. Bringing Nature Home, the book. Joe Lamp'l featured him on one of his Growing a Greener World segments. That book is AWESOME--great information and great photos, and his writing is SO good--he makes it all so interesting. The best book I've bought yet in my fall book-buying binge. lol


    How many cattle panels do you have, Amy? What are you used to paying for them? That's what I'm going to be spending money on this year. I loved the way Lamp'l made tomato cages with them, too.

    I also was wondering about the other cat, Dawn. So you have three new little tiny ones? And three older ones? (By the way, you cured me. Not jealous of you having little tiny kittens! You are a hero.) What a wonderful education for the girls! I laughed at the story of them watching you clean the little babies up.

    Amy I don't have elderberry syrup, but I have elderberries, so I guess I have no reason not to make some, right? (Not from my elderberry bushes--bought them from 360 Farms.)

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    Jennifer, I have a soft heart for animals, especially helpless baby ones at risk of starving. We bottle-raised a tiny squirrel once after it lost is mother in a thunderstorm (the storm brought down part of a tree and the mama and baby with it). It used to ride around in the pocket of Chris's pocket t-shirts. As it grew up, we let it go out into the yard during the day and we'd call it in the evening and it would come inside. One day, it didn't come back, but we saw it around the yard for weeks thereafter, and sometimes it would come up and look at us as if to say hello, though it didn't come close enough for us to touch it. We did what we set out to do with that squirrel---fed it until it was strong enough to go back outdoors to live and fend for itself. I wouldn't raise all orphaned or abandoned babies---no skunk, coon, rat, mouse, vole, or gopher babies would find sympathy here, for example.

    Amy, The original feral mama cat was a very good mother, though incredibly young and small. I think she probably got pregnant earlier than is typical, and then all her calories went to feed her three babies, which we now call the Big Babies, and she has remained undersized. To look at her, you wouldn't even think that she is child-bearing age yet, much less that she has produced a litter of kittens that must be 4 or 5 months old by now at least. The Big Babies mostly live in the garage, though they'll stay out all night occasionally. Their mother comes and goes. I told Tim that I wanted to trap her and get her spayed so she wouldn't keep producing feral kittens and it was like she understood English and has been scarce ever since. I see her around, but she won't come close to me, even though she finally had begun letting me pet her now and then until she apparently heard me say she needed to be fixed. One step forward, two steps back with her, I guess. Meanwhile, her children now are larger than her. They will come to eat if I call them, but won't get close enough to let me touch them. I guess our winter project can be to try to trap them all and get them all fixed so they won't produce a huge feral cat colony.

    I know that something is wrong with Tim's favorite Tiny Kitten. I cannot tell you what it is, but it had something that looked like exposed bone on its left shoulder. Because of this, Tim had begun calling it Lefty almost from the start, though the girls want to name all the kittens after characters from The Lion King. Well, last night, milk begin oozing out of that spot, so I think it is a healed-up abcess or something. Today, there is a similar abcess (or whatever) developing on its back, so I suspect it is lacking some important part of its stomach/digestive system and I'm not sure where the food goes whenit swallows it or why it is oozing out of that part of its body. It also is not gaining weight like the other two. (sigh) It does eat, but I don't think the food is helping it. I think we'll lose this one. I don't think the food is digesting and nourishing it or it is lacking a complete stomach or intestines or something. We knew when we started feeding them that mothers often abandon unwell or weak babies, and we knew the survival rate of orphaned or abandoned feral kittens can be pretty low, so we knew the challenges when we started feeding them. We have taken in and fed feral kittens before, and have had a pretty good survival rate with them for the most part, but certainly not a 100% survival rate with any litter of abandoned feral kittens ever. These are the youngest ones we've ever bottle-raised. The other two kittens are gaining weight and looking better and better each hour, so they seem fine so far.

    I will be glad when this Big Puppy grows up some more and stops chewing everything in sight. We put a big basket of dog toys that we've accumulated over the years right by his dog crate, so when he comes out of the dog crate to come downstairs, he grabs a toy. If he gets bored with it, he goes upstairs and grabs another one. Today he has about a dozen toys here downstairs, and he isn't playing with any of them. He is sleeping on the floor. This is a monumental development because usually he cannot sleep if we are around---he has to be in our face and involved in whatevere we're doing. If I move so much as a toe right now, he'll notice, wake up, jump up and be glued directly to me so he doesn't miss anything that I am doing. I cannot move now or I will lose the first peace and quiet I've had today.

    It does sound like Rebecca's neighbors or picky, or there's a picky HOA or something. I've never heard of fines of the type she mentioned. It would suck to live in a neighborhood like that.

    I live living in the country---no city ordinances, and only a very few county ones either. (No leash laws, so dogs can roam at will, which I don't like.) We're so far back from the road that no one can see our yard, much less complain about anything growing in it, or complain if it isn't mowed to their desired shortness or whatever. lol. I like that. There are people near us that, according to the rumor mill, are getting licensed to grow marijuana. I doubt anyone will care what I'm growing in my piddly little veggie garden with more exciting stuff like that around.

    Today I am held hostage indoors by a huge number of swarming wasps that are literally sitting on every exterior door and door frame, trying to fly in the door if I am stupid enough to open one. A few have gotten inside (dogs gotta go outside occasionally to do their thing), and I think I have killed all those with a fly swatter. The mudroom is full of them---proving me right. I kept telling Tim they were not flying in through a door there---they are finding someway to squeeze in somewhere, somehow. I had taken care of the 3 I found in there this morning, haven't opened the mudroom's exterior door since then, and now there's a couple dozen there. I would like to grab the can of wasp spray in the mudroom and spray all the wasps congregating around the exterior of all the doors, but I'm not brave enough to go into a mudroom full of wasps. I 'think' they will go away outdoors as the sun sets, but I doubt that the ones in the mudroom will leave it. I hope they all disappear, but then I cannot kill them with wasp spray because they won't be there on the exterior doors and frames. Tim will have to kill the ones in the mudroom without wasp spray because it is attached to the sunroom, and that's where the cats while away sunny afternoons. I don't want any wasp spray used in the mudroom or sunroom for that reason. We have a 6 ' tall skinny Christmas tree in the mudroom. This morning, I took all the Halloween ornaments off of it, and stopped to eat lunch. While I was eating lunch, it filled up with wasps, so all the Thanksgiving tree decorations still are sitting on the dining table since I am not stupid enough to go out into a mudroom full of wasps. These wasps are really messing up my day. Which kind of wasps, you ask? Oh, we have a nice selection---some sort of yellow-and-black ones (not yellow jackets), some solid black wasps, some red wasps and some thread-waisted wasps. Clearly we do not discriminate as we have all kinds of wasps here. We've never had them going completely nuts trying to get inside our house in the autumn, not even when we have seen large swarms of them outdoors on a sunny, warm day. I wonder if they know something about winter 2019-2020 that we don't yet know? Both last night and today were quite a big warmer than forecast, so the wasps and butterflies have been out all over the place today.


  • hazelinok

    Dawn, I hope the momma cat lets you catch her and spay her. Poor little teenage momma kitty.

    I just read through everything and saw that I did not answer Nancy's question. Nancy. we had someone count the people who came through on Wednesday night. It was right under a 1000. That doesn't count the few who snuck in through other doors and our own people. It's an event our community enjoys and looks forward to each year.

  • HU-939938193

    Overwintering in general.

    Dawn, or anybody else. I have some spinach that I've planted this fall that has came up.

    also have some cole crops , brocollic sprouts , brocollic and califlower , mustard greens and cabbage ( Savory type).

    How do I overwinter these for early spring harvest ?

    I'm experimenting with low tunnel covering , cold frames, and green houses.

    Should I use plastic or fabric covering for low tunnels?

    What about green houses in Oklahoma grow zones ?

    I'm experimenting with all possibilities for overwintering cold tolerant vegetables.

    okmulgee boy

  • slowpoke_gardener

    Amy, I scattered some seed today also. I walked through the north garden and dropped 3 rows of collards. It is really getting late for planting anything to eat, I am even having trouble getting my cover crop up. The seeds on top of the ground are sprouting, but it looks as though the frost is freezing the root tips. The peas that sprout with the root next to the ground look like a few may make it, it the pea splits with the root on top and it has to grow toward the soil gets frost bit before it can get into the soil. I feel sure I will have some crop, but not much. On the other hand, my turnips, mustard, and radishes that I planted a few weeks ago are doing very well, for now. I was even surprised at how well the cabbage is doing from seed that I just tossed out onto the ground. I will be even more surprised if they live through the winter. Also It looks like the turnips that I tossed on the ground a few days ago are coming up.

    I cut out parts to build a cold frame/hinged hoop today. I hope I can get more time to work on it soon. I am going to have to change the way I garden, I just cant get around like I use to.

    I called a couple of guys to help with my wildlife garden. I need for a track hoe to come in and dig the trees out of the dirt pile so I can level the ground for spring planting.

    It is so frustrating to not be able to do anything. I never expected it to be so hard to do the things I enjoy. But I should count my blessings, some people spend their entire life is worse shape than I am in. I can still get out every day and do something, it may take me all day, but still I am out doing what I enjoy.

    I think that experimenting and trying to push the limits are half the fun of gardening.

  • AmyinOwasso/zone 6b

    We have 8 or 9 cattle panels. They are less than $20 at Atwoods. We've bought a few each year. We've discussed making tomato cages from them, but it hasn't happened. They are 16' x 4' so you could make 4 2' wide cages for $20. Atwoods sells other panels, in shorter lengths or widths, but cattle panels seem to give you the most for your money.

    Okmulgee Boy, the trouble with plastic tunnels in Oklahoma is they will get hot. They will get hot while you're at work and can't vent them. Even the fabric ones might get hot, I have no experience with permanent fabric covers, though I have put frost blankets out. One year I had hoops, but only wrapped the plastic around the lower 2 feet as a wind break. I had read the wind did more damage than the cold. (Also keeps onions from getting blown over.) I don't think things survived. I don't remember what was in the bed, probably lettuce and spinach because I DO remember the fabulous early crop of lettuce and spinach in that bed. You might like this article. She links some more of her blogs on this subject. I think it's colder where she lives which could make a difference.

    Weird about the wasps Dawn! and scary. maybe because the ground is wet?

    We had a cat like your ferel mama. Our beloved cat had died about a month before and this one showed up meowing on the porch like I'm home let me in. We thought she was a kitten but the vet said she was small from being malnurished. I was making spaghetti with Italian sausage. That cat stood on her hind legs and danced. She loved Italian sausage. Tuna...meh... Italian sausage she'd go crazy. She was also the reason my daughter's first word was kitty.

    Larry, I've been debating throwing more seeds out, but my husband and I are always at odds this time of year. He's talking about adding dirt and compost to the beds, which he can't do if I throw seeds out. I can't tell you how many times he's destroyed a seed bed he didn't know I'd planted. I am very frustrated, too. We will just keep plugging along.

    H/J I don't envy you doing the Halloween thing. I never was good at that kind of thing.


  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    Jennifer, Over 1,000 is a lot. At Chris and Jana's house we didn't count, but I'd guesstimate maybe 300 or 400 kids. It is hard to say, but it was a steady stream for almost 4 hours. We gave out about 3 times as much candy as we started out with---and near the end we started wondering if someone should make 1 more run to Wal-mart, but ultimately we decided enough was enough and, anyhow, Chris already had gone to bed because he had to get up at 3 am for work the next day and we figured 9 pm was probably late enough to hand out candy. I think Jana turned off the porch light at that point, but we had left already by then. We'll be better prepared for next year. I bought a ton of Halloween decorations at the post-Halloween sales and am going to surprise the kids with them. They didn't have a lot this year and really want to do a lot more decorating next year. Actually they wanted to do more this year but ran out of time and energy. Between his work and Ironman-training schedule and her days at nursing school during the week and working at the hospital on weekends, they really don't have a lot of spare time for shopping and decorating. I imagine next year we'll turn decorating into an event and help them with it.

    okmulgeeboy, The trick with covering plants is to uncover them on hot sunny days so the plants don't roast and wilt. Are you in zone 6? Down here in zone 7, spinach can tolerate pretty much whatever cold weather that Old Man Winter throws at it. Sometimes a very heavy frost/hard freeze will brown the leaves a bit, but new growth comes out to replace the damaged leaves almost immediately. I've seen damage on it around 18-20 degrees early in the season when the new growth is fairly tender, but it has survived colder weather later in the season when it has toughened up a bit. Pretty much everything else you mentioned is the same way---generally cold harder to 20 degrees Fahrenheit or so when the plants are fairly young and tender, and harder up to 0-10 degrees once they have been through repeated rounds of cold weather and have toughened up. The hard thing in our climate is for them to stay cold-hardened, though. If we get cold and stay there, that is a lot better for them as it allows them to hold and build their cold-tolerance. When we alternate between days and nights in, let's say, the 60s/40s and the 30s/10s, they are damaged more easily on the really cold nights because the warmer weather has messed up their cold-hardening. I generally play it safe by covering up everything with frost blankets if I expect the nights to go below 10 or 15 degrees. They're also really well-mulched, and I don't feed them because that pushes lush, new growth that freezes easily.

    Have you read Eliot Coleman's "Winter Harvest Handbook"? It is an incredible guidebook, and one of the most important things I learned from it is the importance of having the plants well-established before the really cold weather and the low-light of winter set in. If your plants are well-established, they will tolerate a lot, you can harvest as needed, and they will resume growth as daylength grows in mid- to late-winter and spring, but then they'll tend to bolt at some point because they are biennials and once growth resumes after stalling in the worst of winter, they perceive the new growth as their second season.

    Greenhouses, whether they are hoophouse style covered with 6 mm greenhouse plastic or hard-walled glass or greenhouse type twinwall plastic, are tricky in our climate. I almost wish we just stayed cold and cloudy all winter long instead of being on a hot/cold roller coaster with plentiful sunshine on some days. On those hot, sunny days, my hoophouse style greenhouse can reach 140 degrees by 9 or 10 am if I have not gone out there and opened the 2 doors and all 4 vents and turned on a fan, and that is with 50% Aluminet shadecloth on it. So, greenhouses can work, but greenhouse management and close attention to detail is vital. You don't want to let it get too hot or spider mites will appear out of nowhere and will reproduce like mad in the warn to hot greenhouse. I have to either grow warm-season crops in the greenhouse that tolerate the heat, or cold ones that do not, but I cannot grow both at the same time in winter because the warm-season crops need to stay much warmer than the cool-season ones, and the kind of temperatures the warm-season crops need in the greenhouse will make the cool-season crops fail. You also need to heat the greenhouse at night in some way because plastic and glass are poor insulators. Without some form of heat for the greenhouse, its nighttime temperatures will be about the same as the outdoor temperatures. Having a Min-Max in your greenhouse is essential. That's how I learned in the beginning---comparing temperatures recorded on the Min-Max thermometer inside the greenhouse to those recorded on a separate Min-Max thermometer outside the greenhouse. Nowadays I mostly use my greenhouse to overwinter marginally cold-hardy plants (usually zone 8 or zone 9 plants), and then in spring time, I use it to raise seedlings that were started indoors on the light shelf and moved out to the greenhouse as they got larger.

    For low tunnels, I prefer textile floating row covers that give either 6-8 or 10 degrees Fahrenheit cold protection. The issue is that the ones that give 10 degrees do not allow as much light to penetrate as those that give 6-8 degrees. They both work really well. Plastic can be sort of tricky because it holds in moisture which can lead to fungal diseases. Often, it works well to open up both ends of the low tunnel all day for good air flow, and then you close up the ends at night to hold in the heat.

    Larry, The weather in the latter half of November is supposed to be nicer and warmer than the weather in the first half of November, so maybe your late-planted seeds will sprout and grow and become established during that time frame.

    I know you're frustrated, but glad you're hiring help when you need it. Fred's help (mostly his son, and also his nephew) carried a heavy load for him once he reached a certain age so he could keep gardening and ranching well into his 90s, but most people here have to give up most outdoor tasks in their 70s or 80s as they get older. As one of them told me "I was all good until I fell off the tractor, and after that my wife and kids made me sell the tractor and hire someone to do the work I used to do with it". He was bitterly unhappy about selling the tractor, but on the other hand, he still had his garden, even if someone else did all the plowing and dirt work. For the ranchers, it is getting thrown off a horse and breaking either their hip, pelvis or back that makes the wife and kids declare their horse-riding days are over, but a lot of them just switch to an ATV and keep ranching. My dad used to say there's more than one way to skin a cat.....

    Amy, I was blaming that warm 73-day for the wasps swarming, but then where were they before that? In the ground? I don't know. Tim came home from work almost an hour early rather concerned that the dogs, cats and I were held hostage by swarms of wasps on the exterior doors and in the mudroom. He killed the ones he could find (but most had flown away at sunset) and then got busy caulking the area near and in the mudroom that I have been concerned about for a couple of years. We'll see if that keeps new ones from coming in. I found only 4 or 5 in there this morning (after leaving the door open so they could fly out if they wanted) and I killed all those. Oh, and when I was trying to get the wasps to fly out of the mudroom, honey bees were flying in---also not ever an issue in the past. I wonder what's going on. Maybe we are going to have epic cold winter weather and we just don't know it yet.

    I love the kitty story. We are feeding the malnourished mama of the three Big Kitties trying to build up her weight and strength and all. The mama of the three Tiny Kitties comes here to eat, and she is a big, fat, well-fed bruiser of a cat. I chide her for wanting me to feed her after she abandoned 3 of her babies, and I've seen the direction from which she comes and goes, so feel certain I know who she belongs to---there's 2 houses over that way. I don't have to feed her so I'm not. She's plenty well fed.

    Every night I put canned cat food in the garage for the three Big Kitties, and any other cat who goes in there to eat with them. At some point, as darkness approaches, I simply close the door, never knowing who is in the garage or who left it. Every morning is a surprise....this morning there were the three Big Kitties when I opened the garage door, their little mama, Big Boy (the big black cat that comes and goes, and probably is someone's barn cat), and a white cat that reminds us a great deal of our former cat, Casper, who died a few years back, so I call this one Casperette. They couldn't wait to be fed, and have been hanging out in the garage all day because it is cold and misty---not really enough moisture falling to call it rain, but definitely mist that is wetting all the surfaces. Big rain is coming in a couple of days, so maybe the cats feel it coming and are planning on camping out in the garage.

    I wanted to do some on-line seed shopping today, but between keeping the Big Puppy from chewing up everything in the house and keeping the three Tiny Kittens fed, and then doing the usual household chores, I don't even have time to shop online. Maybe tonight when the animals are asleep. I got another HPS seed catalog in the mail yesterday and looking through it is giving me the itch to order seeds for a spring garden. I need to figure out how many containers I'll have for edible crops and where to set them up, so we can have some sort of an edible garden while working on the renovation of the landscape in 2020. I've tried and tried to tell myself to take a break from growing all veggies except tomatoes and peppers in 2020 but I know that's not going to happen and I'm lying to myself if I think that it will. Partly this is driven by my dissatisfaction with the quality of purchased produce, not to mention all the produce recalls that seem to be an everyday thing any more.

    Among other oddities here---it isn't just the lack of ladybugs trying to come indoors (I'm not complaining, but still wondering what happened to them) and the swarms of wasps trying to come in, there's the issue of winter rye grass. We always have some, and it usually begins sprouting in late September. Here we are in early November and there's no rye grass let. Strange.

    I need a nap, but the little kitties absolutely will not let that occur. They are tiny, ravenous beasts.


  • Nancy RW (zone 7)

    Larry, I thought of you while I was out mowing today. Garry is moving soil into the raised beds, and I was dumping mulched leaves in, as well. I found myself tiring out so quickly--and he said he was, too. What a gorgeous day. though. Neither of us moved the entire month of October, and we could tell! He had his cataract stuff, and it was cold and rainy, and then I got the cold and hurt my foot. NOT good. We both realized we need to get out of the chairs and work every day! I think you are a great role model!

    I agree that experimenting is half the fun of gardening.

    I had an AHA moment this morning. Remember I said I could not leave all the leaves in the yard. BUT I can leave SOME of them. So this year instead of using a leaf blower, I'll just keep mowing the yard, weather permitting. I empty the bags onto unmowed leaves and keep going. The mower doesn't get all the leaves, and when I mow over previous mowed ones, it leave some bits and pieces on the ground. I think that's a splendid compromise. And the leaves against the rock walls will stay there, as well as the ones in the beds. We're not needing mulch as desperately now as we did 3-4 years ago. GDW and I are both loving this new kinda sloppy half-baked clean-up stuff. Yay sustainable gardening! lol

    Dawn, we don't have the ladybugs this year, either, nor did we last year. Year before that, gobs and gobs. Same with crickets. Lots 2 years ago, not many last year, not many this year.

    I'm totally over being jealous of the little kittens! I also loved your Italian-sausage-loving kitty story, Amy.

    I got a kick out the wife and kids making your friend sell his tractor. Reminded me of when my daughter-in-law took my roller blades away from me. . . this was in the mid-90s. I loved roller blading and it was all good until I broke my right wrist. Then 8 weeks later took another spill (over a twig on a sidewalk) and broke BOTH wrists. It was probably for the best.

    I like hearing the second half of November might be nice, Dawn. Sure hope so. It's supposed to rain tomorrow and maybe Thursday, so yesterday and today were the only perfect gardening days this week.

    Maybe I'll begin buying 2 livestock panels every other month or so. I'm all excited to get going on them, Amy! Joe Lamp'l was showing some ways he uses them. Of course, his gardening budget is obviously way bigger than ours is!

  • HU-939938193

    Amy . thanks for the Mother Hubbarb link . That answered a lot of my questions.

    No, I can't take off work in the middle of the week and drive a 100 some miles to vent a plastic

    grow tunnel , much less tend to a greenhouse. I guess I might try a fabric tunnel if I do it at all.

    Dawn, I'm in zone 7a just bordering on zone 6. I'll look into that book you mentioned . Sounds

    like my kind of guy. As far as establishing plants before winter sets in depends upon the weather gods that be. I couldn't even get the cole crop plants until early Sept and then it was a too hot Sept with the heat hanging on for so long along with those little green cabbage worms that chewed up about half my cole crop plantings after replanting 3 rounds of backup plants. I think I

    may have around 30 plants that made it out of probably a 100 that I put out counting all the backups. A few of them are starting to look nice finally , the rest are just so so.

    And I couldn't plant spinach till it cooled down at least a little in late Sept.

    Last year I planted some spinach in Oct. It came up a little spotty and only got about a couple of inches tall and just sat there all winter long. I only covered it up once in early March when a late Artic front came down along with my early spring onion plants that I had just put out a couple of weeks before. I covered it with plastic then but first I put down old clothes , blankets, quilts , carpet. whatever. And then unrolled a large row of plastic (3 mil I think) over it all and weighted it all down with dirt , logs , whatever. The temps got down around 6 or 7 degrees with a bad negative wind chill and a little ice and snow. The following weekend after it had warmed up some I peeled it all off and everything made it just fine.

    Anyway the spinach started growing better when the daylight started getting longer and later in April/May I had the best spinach I've ever grown. Inspired by that success I planted a whole lot more spinach this fall and it's all coming up. I planted Bloomsdale , Space and Noble Giant . The Bloomsdale seems to be coming up better than the others. I've read that Tyee is a good for overwintering but I couldn't find the seed this year.

    Weather boy on channel 9 says that this winter will be cooler than normal and wetter than normal. To me that means more ice and snow this winter. So I thought I'd look into doing something about it as far as overwintering what fall plantings I have since I worked so hard on

    getting them in . Might be hard put to just drive out to the garden if its going to be a bad winter.

    I also have some nice collards left over from the spring planting that made it through the summer heat that I have been harvesting lately . It's been kissed by a couple of frosts already. I would like to continue harvesting them through the winter if I can keep the artic temps from taking them out.

    I thought about putting a portable greenhouse (or two butted together) over them for protection.



    But I can't do the managing of opening vents , turning on/off heaters , turning on/off fans etc from a 100 miles away.

    What if I just put up a windbreak with a plastic wall on the north side to block off artic drying winds . Then the wind will switch to the south and be just as bad probably.

    Welllllll , what about a greenhouse without the top ? Like a fort , if the drying winds is what kills rather than the low temps.

    I'm just trying to research this all out before I put too much money into it.

    I guess in the meantime I'll just dream on.




    I'd like to at least get some brussel sprouts out of it all.

    Thanks for your patience . It's a long post I know.

    okmulgee boy

  • hazelinok

    Nancy, I just watched an Advil commercial which is featuring a 62 year old skateboarder just as I was reading about your love of roller blading. I LOL because of course you would love rollerblading. You're such a hoot. (I'm sorry you broke your wrists)

    I enjoyed watching Growing a Greener World back in the day when we first moved into our home and I was starting our garden.

    Amy, you remove your cattle panel arches each year? I was thinking of just leaving mine. Is there a reason I shouldn't? We need to rebuild a bed that one of them is in...so might need to remove it for that reason. The wood frame is breaking down.

    We didn't have many ladybugs this year either. However, we learned on Sunday, that my sister in law and brother in law are just outside of Branson...just over the Arkansas line. They live in a giant RV and are staying there until May. ANYWAY, on the way back from visiting their site, I noticed that ladybugs had somehow snuck into our car. Maybe they all went to Arkansas this year.

    Dawn,that is freaky about the wasps! Did that issue get resolved?!

    Again, thank you for caring for those babies.

    I'm glad your new puppy is getting better. Kane never got better. He is 9 and still can't settle down in the house unless he's in the crate. If I'm going to sit down and work on something, he has to go into the crate. If I'm up and working, he's usually under my feet, which I am FINE with. Because I know where he is and he's not destroying anything. We've replaced doors, flooring, window screens and many other things that he's destroyed. He's never been a mean dog...just wild. He's ADHD, I think. Josi can settle down, but she's not an affectionate, companion dog. She also isn't mean...just anxious.

    Dawn, you mentioned that your neighbors might be getting licensed to grow a certain herb....we have someone in our neighborhood who is allowed to grow her own medicine. I've honestly thought maybe that herb would help my dogs. I would totally give it to them if it would chill them out. Kane especially. He is such a cute dog. I'm still sad they he could never be that dog who would hang out with me indoors/outdoors (without running off and eating stuff that makes him sick for two days). He would have been groomed every month and sleeping on our bed and riding in the car with me....

    As far as I know, Ethan has done a good job caring for all the animals while we've been in Branson. We'll be home tomorrow evening so we will see...

    He even scooped the droppings board in the coop.

    I like to clean up the dead plants after a freeze. It saves me time in the spring and time is precious. I do shake out all the unharvested fruit and throw it next to the burn pile. For some reason it mostly goes untouched. I dunno. A lot of it I throw to the chickens, of course. I'm sure they will be happy to see me. I've asked Ethan to keep them in their pens and not let them out into the chicken yard. The chicken yard is in bad shape...or the fencing is anyways. The colt next door really messed up our fence when he jumped it and came over for a visit. One day soon, I'll need to repair it. The chickens can't really hurt much in the garden and property right now...but they get awful close to the dogs and that could mean their doom.

    This weekend the weather is supposed to be nice in Norman. Then it gets cold next week. I'm hoping to get some real work done on Saturday.

    Okmulgee Boy, I'm working on the same thing with my greens and brassicas. My husband built a hinged hoop on the "salad" bed. It's really nice, but I'm not sure what to cover it with this winter. Probably not plastic...probably just some frost cloth. (Insect netting in the spring and summer) Unfortunately my greens aren't very big and it's unlikely they'll get that way because it's such a dark time of year. I'll do better next year, hopefully. My broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts are just completely uncovered. They seem to be doing okay, but I might throw a frost blanket over them when we dip below freezing next week. The cauliflower in particular seems sensitive to the frosts/freezes.

    Okay...I'm going to enjoy this giant jacuzzi tub for one more night. (I miss my big tub in our last house).

    I wish I was as organized as the rest of you when it comes to gardening and planning and knowing plants well. Some day....

  • Nancy RW (zone 7)

    I just said to Garry, "Well, duh! WHO couldn't love roller-blading!" LOL I tried to get my DIL to join me in the activity (this was before I broke my wrists), but she never could figure out how to get stopped safely, so she opted out.

    Oh yeah, jacuzzi tub. Nice! I hope you enjoyed your unplanned vacation, Jennifer! And I hope the weekend will be good for yard work. It rained 1 3/8" last night, so no yard work today. I'm reading one of my really good books. Tomorrow evening I'm going to a soil/pollinator workshop. I never attend stuff like this; it's not my learning style. My friends talked me into it, so I said okay. I'm going to bet I don't learn anything new. I hope I'm wrong. And surprise, GDW said he'd go with me! Wow. He said he's going to remind me to keep my mouth shut.

    Okmulgee--I am so excited after hearing your winter spinach story. I think my spinach, pak choy, and cilantro are going to behave exactly the same way. All are healthy, but small. Well, good luck to Jennifer and to you.

    I've been sitting in the living room reading, and now writing this, and visiting with Garry. Tom jumped up and went over to say hi to GDW. Tom is SUPER affectionate to both of us, but though I can pick him up for short periods of time, GDW never tries. I said, "I dare you to pick him up." GDW laughed and said, "Well, I'll just do that." Before I could say anything else, he cradled Tom against his chest and got up. At that point Tom went nuts and sunk claws in the chest and leg. I was laughing SO hard. I kept saying, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry." Tom made a beeline for under the table, and GDW was nursing his wounds. He's been making fun of me ever since, telling me how bad I am, me laughing and saying I'm sorry. He said I obviously was not sorry. LOLOLOL

    I need to go dig my seed packs out of the fridge and seeing what I've got and what I need to get--not much, I don't think. I did just turn in a good-sized order to Prairie Moon Nursery for native plants. Have a good day, everyone!

  • AmyinOwasso/zone 6b

    My OCD husband removes the arches. When there's not much in the garden the dogs dig in it. (They MOSTLY stated out of it this summer). He lays cattle panels over the bed to keep the dogs from digging. The beagle who can barely walk goes out and digs up grubs or something. My yard is a minefield of ankle twisting holes. She doesn't dig in the summer, unless they find a rodent. One of my Brussels sprout plants got dug up. I don't think it was the beagle. So that bed is now covered with a panel. The way we do the arches, arched between 2 beds, they make it hard to work in the beds. You CAN put your hands through them, but it is awkward. So Ron takes them down so he can get to the beds more easily. We have discussed a method that would raise them up about a foot so we could work under them. I would be perfectly happy to put permanent arches between all the beds then. Don't know if I can convince him, though.

    My beds are 4x8. 2 butted together to make them 16'. There are 4 of the 16' groupings and one 4x8 by itself I call the lonely bed. 3 of the 16' beds run east to west about 5 or 6' apart, so I can have 4 arches between them (total of 8). The other 16' bed runs north and south. I can put 1 panel between the end of an e/w bed and that n/s bed. But that effectively closes off the end of one e/w bed which has arches on 3 sides. The front bed has arches on 2 sides. If I could figure out how to do it, I would put plastic over 4 arches and close off the ends for a greenhouse. The logistics of making it temporary, and getting someone to build it keep it from happening. Ron is leaning toward a Harbor Freight greenhouse. I wouldn't mind, I just need something for spring seedlings.

    Maybe pictures would make it more clear.

    4 arches between the 1st and 2nd 16 foot beds. The lonely bed is in the back, by the fence. I'm trying to convince Ron to put one more bed next to it so we would be more uniform, LOL.

    This shows the arch going from the e/w bed to the n/s. This was last year. This year I had an arch on the 3rd side. I don't use the pvc arches any more. They were meant for frost blankets or insect netting.

    This is the bed that runs north/south. We have used this method for tying up tomatoes or for bean trellises.

    Envious of your tub H/J.

    Okmulgee Boy, here's another link for you to chew on. I researched heating greenhouses and tried many things with plastic ones I've had. #1 a 55 gallon drum or two, painted black and filled with water. It heats up during the day and gives it off at night. All well and good until you have cold cloudy days when the water can't warm up. However, one guy (I couldn't find the link) said he lined the north wall of his greenhouse this way (must have been a big greenhouse, he stacked them). One day he forgot to open the greenhouse and expected eveything to be cooked. He had enough of a cooling effect from the drums to save his plants. I always buy cheap shower curtain liners (clear) that I can hang on the walls for extra insulation. Bubble wrap can also be used if you have a cheap source. Some people make mini greenhouses inside their greenhouse for extra protection. You can put frost blankets over things in the greenhouse on expected cold nights. I tried the candle under the flower pots you see on FB. Didn't work. I suggest you look at a greennhouse supply catalog and figure out if you have DIY options. Like a solar fence charger with fans/vents. There is an outlet that will only work at certain temps. One guy used a computer fan to vent his greenhouse. And speaking of growing herbs, the growers websites often have creative options for greenhouses. What you have to be careful of with plastic greenhouses like you linked is Oklahoma wind. It shredded my last one in one season. People have had them blown over. I've never had one that big, but I have several saved to my Amazon list, LOL.

    I think read that Tyee is no longer available.

    I have to get off of here.

  • slowpoke_gardener

    Okmulgee Boy, I like your links, thanks for posting them. It sounds like you and I have about the same goals, but mine, on a much, much smaller scale.

    Dawn, If a stray cat shows up here I will pack it up and send it to you, completely free.

    Nancy, I too, mow leaves and anything else I can put in the compost. I use the mower to go round and round the garden blowing seeds, grass, and anything else into the garden. I know I get a lot of seeds in the garden. But, hey, if it were not for all the therapy that I get from digging out bermuda, I would be in the "Nut House" by now. I also have a large piece of conveyor belt, 4' x 13' that I pull behind the mower and rake grass clipping onto and drag to the garden. I only do this when I an running short of mulch.

    Amy, I really like your set-up. I am with Ron, hold off on the tossing seed. I am hoping to toss out some collard seeds in the lawn, just to see what happens. I will mow a low strip and drop the seeds in it. If Madge sees if and thinks it is ugly, I will just tell her that the adjustment came loose on the mower, and I went 25 or 30 feet before I notice it. If a few seeds com up I will blame it on the birds. If I get a good stand and they do well I will tell Madge that was my bright Idea, and those pretty collard are her Christmas present.

    Hazel, I am trying to build a hoop house. I plan on it being 4' x 8' x 4'. It will have a 4' x 8' piece of wafer board for the back ( which will be on the north side). It will be hinged on the north side. The wafer board will have a hinged 20" x 72" window in it, covered with screen wire. If it looks like it will work okay I will paint the wafer white, hoping it will reflect some of the energy back into the Hoop/cold frame. All of this will be sitting on about 6 or 8 inches of compost, and the plants will be planted into LC1 or Pro Mix.

    Well I had better get back to my tree trimming. I hate for limbs to slap me when I am mowing, plus I need the limbs up high enough to not snag the tractor canopy.

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    Larry, Thank you for the kind offer to send us a stray cat, but I can assure you that we have plenty here. I have no idea where they come from---if they are barn cats who are tired of eating rats and mice, or feral cats living off the land, or neighbors' cats who roam far and wide, but we have far too many cats roaming around here that aren't ours....they don't even belong to anyone we know, as far as I know.

    The next time I tell y'all I am going to bottle feed tiny kittens, please send me to have my head examined. How can 3 tiny critters keep me completely exhausted 24/7? Taking care of these kittens while trying to keep the Big Puppy away from them is not easy--he has to spend more time in his dog crate than either of us like, but I'm afraid he'd eat them----he eats literally everything else he gets his mouth on. Today he tore up a tennis ball and tried to eat it---not because he was hungry as he had plenty of food in his dish but just because he likes to devour everything. His idea of being close to you is to sit on the couch beside you and hold your hand in his mouth. (sigh)

    I am so far behind that I cannot catch up, but I'll try. It may take several posts because these animals don't let me sit down for more than 10 minutes at a time.

    Nancy, Here's the 3-4 week outlook that shows warmth at the tail end of November. I hope it is right. Often, these outlooks change a great deal from day to day, but this one has been showing warmth for several days now. Of course, this is assuming we survive the next 10 or 12 days.

    Week 3 & 4 Temperature Outlook

    Now, here is the bad news. This is the 8-14 day outlook (I figure all of us already know what our 7-day forecast shows, and mine shows bitterly cold weather early next week...…). And, yes, I realize if we add 14 days to today's date, we're in Week 3, which may mean the 3-4 week Temperature Outlook above is just a pipe dream.

    8-14 Day Temperature Outlook

    Now, are you looking at the 8-14 Day Outlook, y'all, and thinking it looks pretty rough? Maybe it does, but it looks better than the 6-10 day outlook.....

    Okmulgeeboy, I am expecting a rough winter. I want to be wrong, but think I'm right. I was just telling my husband this morning that maybe snow boots would be a great Christmas gift for the kids and grandkids (trying to get my shopping done early, lol).

    I'll be back later to look at all your links and comment on them. The laundry and the dog are calling my name and I need to go take care of both.


  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    Okmulgeeboy, It is more complicated that you are gardening so far away from where you live. There are some automatic vent openers for greenhouses, and you might be able to install one in a low tunnel, although I've never tried it.

    The never-ending summer heat that persisted deeply into autumn made it extra hard to get cool-season plants planted and established for a fall garden.

    Those portable greenhouses would have to be staked down in multiple places to keep them from blowing away, they offer pretty much zero insulation at night unless filled with something to hold in heat. In my hoophouse, I have used both kitty litter buckets (dozens----I saved them for over 10 years) and big black trash cans filled with water to absorb heat all day on sunny days and release it slowly at night, and that helps a lot, but it takes up tons of space. I had my plant shelves right above the water-filled containers, and still resented all the space those containers of water took up---space that could have had plants.

    Snow on spinach or any other cool-season crop isn't bad because it acts as an insulator. I doubt that ice is good for them, but we rarely get ice down here so I can't say much about how it affects edible plants. Even when my cool-season crops have been frozen, frosted, and completely killed back to the ground, they put out new growth almost immediately and produced a harvest, though a little later than they would have if they hadn't frozen to the ground. Most of the winter damage in my garden has occurred when warm, sunny winter days caused plants to put out lots of new growth in the January-February time frame, and then we had very cold temperatures return. It is not hard at all to get good winter crops here--I have done it many times. The hard part is trying to do it from afar. It is a simple thing to run out to your garden and throw frost blankets over pre-existing hoops that are sitting there waiting for them if your garden is there at your house. You see the very cold overnight lows on the TV evening news forecast, freak out, run out to the garden, open the shed, drag out the covers, throw them over the hoops, pin them down to the ground with U-shaped landscape fabric staples (I buy them from A. M. Leonard in bulk) and run back indoors before the news broadcast ends. The issue is that your garden is too far away for you to do that.

    Jennifer, Well, the weather is resolving the wasp issue, I think. First, Tim caulked the area around the mudroom door that had me worried. He also said he thinks he caulked right over some wasps that were hiding in that small opening. Ha! Forever entombed in the wall I guess. Secondly, for the last 2 days, I've killed any wasps I've found in the mudroom---they hide in the coats that hang out there, boots on the boot rack, etc. When it gets warmish in the afternoon they come out and I kill them. I've killed about a dozen or so that way. Most of the wasps lurking outside near the front and back doors went away when the sun went down, and I've been using a fly swatter to take out the rest when I see one as I'm letting dogs in or out or whatever. I'm sure the wasps felt today's cold front coming and were trying to come shelter indoors.

    Don't bring those Asian lady bugs home with you! lol.

    I am afraid we are seeing a Gold Rush-mentality here in our area with the folks who want to get licensed to grow pot, and I hope that they succeed financially---you know, the law of supply and demand will control how profitable their enterprise is, and we all know that successfully growing crops here is harder than most people think, whether growing outdoors or indoors in a climate-controlled setting. I don't care what anyone grows or uses---their business, not mine---I just feel a certain degree of concern that some people are rushing into it expecting a certain level of profitability that may not be achievable.

    I hope Jesse calms down eventually because he is a mess. Yesterday he tore up and ate his tennis ball and then spent the afternoon throwing up. He does chew on his toys, but that is the first one he destroyed and ate. When the weather is nice he is happy out in the yard, although he is a digger and may find a way to dig out of the dog yard while the clay is wet and more pliable than its usual sun-baked concrete hardness, but it has been wet and yucky lately and he is very bored indoors. He is fairly easy to train with training dog treats, but since I've been bottle-feeding tiny kittens, I haven't had the time to work with him. He kept getting his leash and begging for a walk yesterday when it was raining and I kept telling him I wasn't going out to walk in the rain.

    Our weather is the same as yours---nice weekend coming, then brutally cold next week---our daytime highs on Mon and Tues will be lower than our usual November lows....and I don't want to think about how cold those nights will be. Today the wind chills are going to be awful so I'm leaving the chickens in their coop instead of letting them free-range. They won't like it, but they'll be safe and warm, so I don't care if they don't like it. I have a sudden, strong urge to buy warm winter clothing. We haven't needed or used warm winter clothing much the last few years because winter has stayed so warm. This year feels completely different.

    Nancy, Poor Garry! I hate it when cats attack. A cat bit Tim's hand once. I don't remember how or why. Anyhow, he was leaving on a trip to go visit his sister for a week and wouldn't go to the ER, so....after he got there to his sister's condo, his hand swelled up, he developed a fever, obviously had an infection and had to go to one of those walk-in urgent care clinics. Cat bites/cat scratches can become infected very easily---a cat bite to a leg once put one of my co-workers, back in the earliest 1990s I guess, in the hospital on IV antibiotics for 5 days.

    Amy, See how much easier my life is because my husband (who is OCD) is not a gardener? He'd never dare step foot in my garden to take down arches or anything else, unless I asked him to help me do it. Still, it is good that Ron is willing to do all that. I do like my garden's appearance more after all the trellises and things are taken down in winter, but it is a lot less work to leave them up. I suspend our trellises one foot above the ground, leaving me space to get into the beds and work around the base of the trellises. I just attach the trellis material to the support poles a foot above the ground with zip-ties, and that makes weeding easier throughout the season and clean-up easier at the end of the season or just prior to the new planting season. Our garden isn't the back yard though, so Tim doesn't really care what it looks like---in the winter he drives by it in the darkness as he leaves for work and in the evening he drives by it in the darkness as he arrives home....so I doubt he even notices what it looks like. lol. The dogs are fenced out and most of the cats stay out unless I leave the gate open---the cats have not liked to visit the garden nearly as much since we raised the fence to 8' tall, which I think is interesting.

    After we redo the landscape in 2020, I want to convert the back garden to the main garden, perhaps entirely or at least mostly in containers. I'm picturing big stock tanks of some sort. Yes, filling up too many at once would be cost prohibitive, which I why I've never done it, though I've long wanted to because the one 4' round stock tank we have is awesome and everything grows well in it, but I could add just a couple per year and fill the bottom half with hügelkultur material and then top them off with a nice, soil-less mix. I need to get farther back in the boondocks away from the roads and all the neighbors who spray their fence lines with herbicides that drift. I'd love to put up permanent hoops, tunnels, arches, etc. after large containers are permanently positioned, but don't know when we will find the time to do that. Maybe in 2021 since 2020 is pretty much spoken for already. Really, I'd love to build a long hoophouse back there that is covered with BioThrips proteknet stuff and be able to grow all the squash I want without the pests, but it is so cost prohibitive and certainly doesn't make any sort of logical financial sense because you'd never grow enough squash to justify the expense in dollars and cents. Perhaps I could justify it as a means of saving my sanity. How much is that worth? I'm just so tired of all the squash bugs and SVBs. I should just give up growing my beloved yellow summer squash because I've fought those pests all my life and am so tired of them. I miss our early days here when I grew up to 30 kinds of squash and pumpkins per year, just because I could.....I did know that the SVBs would find us sooner or later, but I had 6 or 7 great years of monumental squash abundance before that happened. I'm glad I was able to enjoy those years while they lasted. So, maybe the secret is to move to a new location every 6 or 8 years and grow squash for a while before the pests catch up to you!

    You know, if you could talk Ron into permanent arches that he would not take down, y'all could string Christmas lights over them each year and produce a little winter wonderland for the grandkids. Wouldn't they love seeing all the arches lit up?

    I don't think Tyee has been dropped completely but it certainly is harder to find nowadays than it used to be. This seems to be a constant problem with the varieties of spinach that grow well in our climate, by the way, and I don't know why. WESeeds still has it at the moment:

    Tyee Spinach Seeds at WESeeds

    I would like to say I am having an enormously productive November and getting a lot of things done. I'd like to say I'm getting the house decorated for Thanksgiving (I did, at least, get all the Halloween decorations down), that I'm shopping online to get my Christmas shopping done, that I'm ordering seeds for spring and that I'm still working on the landscape reno plan and making plant lists...and, if I said any of those things, it would be a lie. Between a newish big puppy and the brand new tiny kittens, I'm re-discovering what it is like to be the mother of newborns and to have to watch a toddler constantly so he cannot hurt himself or destroy the house. I consider the day a monumental success if I get all the animals fed, get the laundry done and make dinner. Anything beyond that is just gravy. If I sit down with a seed catalog or plant list or a stack of books, some animal will immediately have a crisis and need me and everything else falls by the wayside. I confess that when Tim comes home at night, I am content to let him do the after-dinner kitten-feeding all by himself---not just so he has that bonding time with the tiny kittens but just so I have a break for a few minutes. The kittens climb all over him after he feeds them and snuggle into his neck/shoulder area and purr as if to say "welcome home, we missed you today". I don't mind all the time they require---but it does change your routine and you just have to let other projects go by the wayside for a while. It is a really good thing that we are dealing with the new puppy and tiny kittens in the gardening off-season because I would not be a happy camper if they were pulling me away from a major landscaping task or planting season or whatever. Hopefully by the time the holidays are behind us and we are starting on the landscape, the kittens will be a lot more independent. They certainly should be....they'll be at the fun and adorable stage by then and I can take them out to the garden and let them run around and play. All of our cats have grown up in the garden that way.

    Have a great day everyone. The wind chills behind last night's/today's cold front are supposed to be brutal, but at least the weekend looks better for all of us before the next cold front arrives.

    Oh, and those mums I waited forever and forever to buy because it stayed hot forever? They are gloriously in bloom and have been for a couple of weeks now and are loving the cool weather. I'm glad I waited late to buy them. In other garden news, inside the house, I'm putting my Christmas cactus in the back of the walk-in pantry from 8 pm to 8 am every day to force it to set blooms. I've been doing this for about 3 weeks now, I think, and you can see the tiny flower buds forming on the leaves. The Christmas amaryllis are growing leaves pretty well so we should have blooms on them by Christmas. These handful of winter plants keep me happy when it is cold and gloomy outdoors.

    This is my favorite time of the day lately---early in the morning, after Tim has left for work, and before the animals really are stirring. We let the dogs out when Tim gets up and then they come back in and sleep another 3 or 4 hours, and the cats usually don't wake up until at least 8 a.m. This is my window of opportunity to get things done so the whole day doesn't fly by in a whirl of feeding and cleaning kittens, and letting the dogs in and out 1,001 times a day because they are bored indoors, and cold and miserable outdoors. If the dogs are in, they want to go out, and if they are out, they want to come in. I remember us kids being exactly this way when we were little, and mom would tell us to make up our minds and either go out and stay out, or come in and stay in. lol. I'm relieving my childhood with these animals, but telling them to make up their minds doesn't really help---my words go in one ear and out the other.

    Well, I hear a cat meowing. Time to go fix breakfast for the animals.


  • HU-422368488

    Dawn , looks like I'm going to have to rig up something pretty quick over the weekend.

    They're forecasting 18-19 degrees with a zero wind chill Tuesday morning.

    I don't have time to wait on ordering anything . The only thing I can get locally is frost blankets

    so I may get a quantity of those and drape them around over the plants and anchor them down

    with bricks or whatever. The wind chills is what I most concerned about more so than the temps.

    If I could just block off that howling north wind.

    The first thing I'm worried about is my already mature collards from the spring that I've been harvesting . They're beautiful with large palm tree size leaves about the size of a basketball.

    I don't want to baby them too much to where they don't get their antifreeze up but I don't want to lose them this early in the winter . If they freeze out in January , fine , but not now.

    The next thing is my fall planted cole crops , brussel sprouts , cabbage and such. I guess I'll drape frost blankets over them too and anchor it down. I still got those surrounded with little chicken wire cages for rabbit control so that will suspend the frost blankets up a little.Maybe put up some sort of wind break on the north end of it.

    I'm not to worried about the spinach plantings . They're so low to the ground . I might sprinkle some mulch over them. If I have some frost blankets left over I might cover some of them with that.

    The frost blankets I'm getting are breathable . They let in some air , light and water ,so I don't think I have to worry about venting and such . More worried about the wind carrying it off to some cow pasture somewhere.

    What I had in mind with the portable greenhouse thing was set it down over the plants with the

    rear to the north and the door left open on the south ( and Amy , you're right. It will have to be well anchored down or the winds will also take it to some cow pasture somewhere.)

    But anyway it will have to be ordered in and there's no time to wait on it now so I guess I'll go with the frost blankets for now.

    Yeah, it is a pain to have a garden a 100 miles away and have to drive in all kinds of weather ,

    slick roads , storms , etc . I do what I can on weekends and just have to let the wind and varmints

    have their way during the week.

    okmulgee boy

  • slowpoke_gardener

    okmulgee boy, it sounds like you have a fight on your hands. I could never manage the task you have ahead of you. The only thing I will try to save is my brussels sprouts. I have about a dozen of them that my daughter wanted me to grow. My spring planting failed, so I bought more plants for fall and they are looking pretty good. I think I have enough tubs to put over them. I am not sure that will help, but it is the only option I have. If my other plants freeze out I may just start getting ready for a spring garden. i have a lot of greens, I may try to freeze some of them, they are just now getting to a good stage. We have been eating greens about every day and I sure hate to lose them. I also have near a 100 cabbage plants, where I had just tossed seed out on the bare soil. The ones that are close together I may stick a tub over them and try to use them for replacement plants.

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    Okmulgeeboy, Here's what I did in the past when a wicked bad cold spell (7-10 days of highs around freezing and lows far below it plus freezing drizzle, sleet and a tiny touch of snow was in the forecast) after I had tomato plants in the ground back before I even had frost blankets:

    I filled up cat litter buckets, cat litter jugs (I never throw either of these away as they come in so handy in so many ways), milk jugs, 2-liter soda bottles, 5-gallon buckets, etc. with water. I put them beside the plants, or in between every two plants, or whatever I could manage to make fit in the raised beds without rolling downhill (my whole garden slopes sharply). Those were to serve as solar collectors, capturing heat during the day and releasing it at night. Even if the water froze at night, they were releasing enough heat to help the plants.

    I built a quickly-thrown-together pitiful-looking low tunnel. I didn't have low tunnel hoops yet, so I set up tomato cages, metal t-posts, wooden stakes, etc. to hold plastic above the tops of the plants. Since plastic conducts cold to plant tissue, any part of the plant that touches the plastic can suffer freeze damage so I tried to arrange things so nothing would touch the plastic. I used lumber scraps, bricks, rocks, etc. to hold the plastic down to the ground. What this does is hold in whatever heat the ground contains, plus the heat from the containers of water (which I set up a day or two in advance so they could soak up sunlight and warm the water). I ended up with an ugly (but effective) plastic tunnel over the plants. To make the tunnel I used a sheet of 6 mm plastic I bought in a roll at Home Depot and draped it over the various supports as well as I could considering they weren't all the same height. I weighted them down to resist the wind as well as I could because it was somewhat windy and I didn't want them to blow away. Because the nights were going to be so cold and the days were barely going to go above freezing with little sunshine expected, I didn't even worry about venting the ends to let excess heat or relative humidity out. I wanted to capture all the heat I could. Guess what? It looked like a blind, inept idiot built it and it wouldn't win any design awards, but I left that hideous spontaneously-rigged tunnel up for three weeks of the most awful Spring weather and didn't lose a plant. In fact, inexplicably, some of the plants were blooming and setting fruit in very cold temperatures (I give the water in the bottles credit for keeping them warm enough to do that).

    I also had mulched the ground thickly with leaves, but was careful to not put leaves over the containers of water because I wanted them exposed to daylight and to sunlight whenever it occurred. After the cold spell was over, I uncovered the plants and they were fine---the cold hadn't hurt them, nor had the freezing rain/drizzle, sleet, snow or hail....we had a fine mess of precipitation during that three weeks. And, by the way, after this I started making and using low tunnel hoops and buying frost blanket-weight row covers, figuring I could do the job more efficiently and effectively with the right materials on hand. Still, I am proud that my redneck low tunnel built mostly of recycled junk we had sitting around saved my plants. So, brainstorm and use whatever you can come up with, and hope for the best.

    Some key points: (1) wind itself combined with cold weather can burn plant foliage, but wind chill only applies to animals, not plants. So, put your focus on blocking the wind, and on keeping the plants warm, but focus on the actual temperatures and wind speeds expected, and don't worry about any forecast wind chills. (2) I am assuming you got a lot of rain and your plants are, therefore, growing in moist soil. This is key, and if the rain had completely missed your garden and it was bone dry, we'd suggest you water it because moist roots are less susceptible to freeze damage than dry roots. (3) Mulch, mulch, mulch. If the roots are well-mulched, even if the entire top growth of the plant freezes down to the ground, it is likely that the plant will regrow from the roots. (4) U-shaped landscape fabric pins or staples, often called earth staples or anchor pins, are your friend. I buy them 500 at a time from A. M. Leonard and they ship quickly, but not quickly enough to help you this time. In the past (though I have not looked for them in a store lately), I bought them in packages of 12, 50 or 75 at Lowe's. They were outside in the section where landscape fabric was kept next to the outdoor garden center. You might stumble across them at a store near you. These are the ones I use just so you'll know what to watch for:

    Anchor Pins for Fabric and Netting

    Your collard greens ought to be fine. They are cold tolerant down to around 5 degrees, particularly if they have had prior exposure to very cold weather. The worst thing for them, actually, is for us to stay in the 60s or 70s forever so they have no chance to adapt to colder temperatures, and then one night we plunge to single digits and they just aren't hardened off to that, so they damage easily. So, I think you've had enough cold weather recently that your collards should be cold-adapted by now. That's a good thing. Spinach is pretty cold hardy too. People around me who grow large quantities of it never cover it up and it is not unusual for us to go down into the single digits a handful of times per winter. Your other brassicas may suffer damage around 18-20 degrees---it just depends on how much prior cold hardening they've had.

    Good luck protecting everything. Remember, if it freezes, all is not lost. There's a good chance at least some plants will come back from the ground, and it also is a great learning experience. All the things I do nowadays to protect my plants are things I learned over the years from sometimes less-than-successful efforts.

    Anything you can put alongside the north side of your plants to block wind would help. I've used black trash bags filled with autumn leaves before, and I've used rectangular bales of hay or straw. Any windblock at all helps.

    I don't envy you....this is going to be a challenge. It is so early for us to have this sort of cold weather this early in November. Yikes! That is all I could think as I was studying the forecast.

    Some people like to rig up a string of Christmas lights underneath a plastic tunnel for heat, but there's an element of fire risk there....if the lights are hot enough to provide adequate heat, they likely are hot enough to set plastic or textile row coverings on fire if they make contact, so don't drive yourself nuts trying to do this. Anyhow, this was most effective with the big exterior Christmas lights we had in the 1960s or 1970s because they did put out a lot of heat. The lights nowadays are much more energy efficient and don't make the same level of heat.

    I have one full raised bed in the perennial garden serving as a temporary holding facility for shrubs and perennials I bought a few weeks ago as Step 1 in the garden renovation for 2020. So far, they've been nipped back a bit by a hard frost but still look good. I might put up the low tunnel hoops over them and cover them up for Monday or Tuesday night, largely because I'm not sure how much prior cold hardening they had before I bought them. I know how much they've had since then, but it has mostly been right around freezing except for the one night we had a hard freeze.

    There's not much gardening news from here. It drizzled all day. Leaves, acorns and pecans are coming down like crazy in our yard now. Some of the elms, which normally have lost all their leaves before November, are now turning yellow, and a few Shumard red oaks are turning red. Everything else still is pretty green, except the top layers of leaves on all trees turned brown after the hard freeze and have fallen off. The leaves that were beneath them and which were protected by them need to color up and fall quickly or the same fate awaits them next week. In the garden, the purple coneflowers and autumn sage remain in bloom. Everything else froze, except the dianthus, which looks fine but hasn't formed buds or blossoms yet.

    In animal news, we lost the little kitten who wasn't gaining weight and growing like the other two. This was not unexpected. He appeared to have something wrong with him wherein he ate just fine, but his body wasn't receiving nourishment from the food. Still, it was shocking how sad it made me to find him dead this morning when I checked on them to see if they were awake yet, which they were not. The day went downhill from there.

    The Big Puppy, who hasn't urinated inside the house a single time since he showed up and we decided to keep him, choose today to urinate ON the living room couch. I mean, while he was standing on it, he apparently decided 'what the heck, why not' and urinated on the sofa cushion where he normally sits, and he did it with me sitting three feet away. He had been outside plenty of times already today and had only recently come back in from being outdoors. After scolding him for doing that to my sofa (which was, thankfully, covered by a blanket precisely to protect it from him), I took him back outdoors and left him there while I took the blanket off the sofa and threw it in the washing machine. Some of his urine had soaked through the blanket, so I went to the pet cabinet in the mudroom to get the pet enzyme cleaner that would remove the stain and smell. Guess what I discovered? I I bet you can't guess. It wasn't wasps. I killed all of them that Tim didn't get.

    I found big blobs of that expanding insulating foam had dripped from where Tim had used it a couple of days earlier to seal an opening I thought was letting wasps into the mudroom. Big blobs dripped onto our hanging coats, hats, boots and mudroom furniture. You cannot get that foam off anything except sometimes you can scrape it off a hard surface with a knife. There are no words for what I was thinking and saying at that moment. I would have moved all the clothing to the opposite side of the mudroom to sit on the mudroom bench while using that foam above the hanging hooks, but the man who knew better just didn't choose to move the clothes. Finding those blobs of hard, dried foam on everything was even worse than finding deer in the garden devouring everything in sight. I might have said a curse word. I might have sent Tim a text message that said #DeadManWalking. I know y'all can just imagine how upset I was/am. My coat that is ruined was brand new last year, barely worn and still looked brand new. It was not a cheap purchase because I intended it to last for years and years so I paid good money for high quality. Now it looks like I'm a construction worker or someone who didn't have the sense to not wear my good coat while working with messy stuff that doesn't wash out. Tim is still alive, but he knows he is in big trouble. He also knows he is buying me a new coat.

    Clearly I am not cut out for dealing with dead kittens, misbehaving puppies and the stupid acts of a normally intelligent man as this whole day threw me for a loop. I am fed up with everything today, and being deficient in sleep doesn't help. I need a vacation. I need a spa day. I need to garden. I need to have my hands in the dirt, which right now is mud after receiving almost 2" of rain, so my hands really aren't going there either. The only good thing about today, really, is that tomorrow can only be better because I cannot imagine how it could be worse. I realize the kitten, puppy and mudroom incidents are not the end of the world, except for the poor little deceased kitty it was the end of his world, but having to deal with all 3 of them in the same day in a relatively small time frame certainly killed my previously great mood. I guarantee you that tomorrow the Big Puppy will spend a lot more time outdoors than he did today, regardless of the fact that the dog yard is a muddy mess. I'd rather deal with muddy pawprints on the floor than a bad dog on the sofa.

    I hope everyone else had a good day. I tried to do some online seed shopping this evening after the kittens were fed and put to bed and the Big Puppy went upstairs to sleep in his dog crate, but I wasn't in the mood to seed shop and couldn't stay focused. Maybe I can seed shop tomorrow.


  • HU-939938193

    Dawn, and everybody else. Thanks for the replies. I just got back from Lowes and bought out all their frost blankets and frost "bags" too.. I have plenty of rolls of plastic sheeting if I have to use it.

    I have some pvc tubing for hoops lying around from some old junk that I can use .

    It's going to be a busy Saturday setting up all the barricades . It'll be redneck but I don't care .

    I am not ((( "ASHAMED"))). I go with whatever works. I got some empty 1 gallon milk jugs that I save up for covering tomatoes in the early spring planting that I can use to fill up with water to release heat during cold nights if that will work..I even got some empty 1 gal antifreeze jugs to fill up with water to release heat .If I can get through this time , I'll try to do better.

    Thanks for all the support.

    okmulgee boy

  • dbarron

    Well maybe tomorrow will be a better day Dawn. I am not happy about Tuesday's forecast for 11 F here. It's pretty early for that kind of temps.

  • AmyinOwasso/zone 6b

    Okmulgee boy, Lowes also sells sections of rebar 2' long. We pound it into the ground and slip PVC over it to anchor the hoops. You have to have the right size PVC to fit. Good luck.

    About the only thing I have growing is what I think are turnips and the brassica seedlings I bought. I think the kale is well enough established to get through this. I don't suppose the mums will. All the things in pots are up against the house, which should be a warmer micro climate there on the south side of the house.

    I'm sorry about your kitten, Dawn, and I can fully relate to your other mood busters. Sasquatch used to pee every time she got excited. Knock wood, she hasn't done that lately. I have an old mattress pad and several blankets on my couch. Periodically she decides to drag them all off. We bought a dog cover from Aldi's, but it simply isn't long enough for our couch. We had one before, with the previous couch and it wasn't long enough either on that couch. Are my couches extra long?

    I woke up this morning thinking it was Saturday. We have the boys tomorrow, so I was trying to decide if I needed to get up and get ready. I was relieved it was Friday.

    The dogs want to be fed, they really don't like "falling back" ;)

    Have a good weekend.

  • hazelinok

    Oh, wow, Dawn! What a crappy day. I'm sorry about the kitty. That makes me feel very sad.

    Ethan has a fancy goldfish that died yesterday and that makes me sad even though it's only a fish. It was Ethan's first pet that he totally cared for without me hovering around. He was great about changing out the water and cleaning the tank properly, etc. etc.

    It's good that he had that experience because I've always been one of those parents who won't let her children "fail" when it comes to pets. And because he was the caregiver for Mort, he was really fond of that little fish. My mother on the other hand NEVER cared for any of my small pets. EVER. It was all up to me. And I had a lot of them. I wanted horses, but living in the city, I got hamsters, fish, gerbils, mice, guinea pigs instead. I made a lot of mistakes with them and had deaths, but I learned hard lessons. Anyway...

    I hope your Friday is better. Maybe your new coat that is now ruined can be your outside coat. I have one of those. It's especially for animal care. (Mine was an old one though and it was given that role after I got a new one.)

    What enzyme remover product do you use? I had a situation involving Juno and my bed. Does your product truly work on cat urine? Or have you ever used it for cat urine?

    Maybe you (Dawn) can go to lunch or have a nice dinner out. See a movie? All of the above. Sneak those kitties in with you. Just kidding. If I were closer, I would stay with them so you could go out. About how much longer will they need to be fed every 4 hours?

    We dropped to 32 here. The water bowls were very slightly frozen. I did not move the large plants indoors last night. I was hoping that because they are against the house, they would be okay. The seemed to be fine this morning. I have to find an indoor spot for them soon! I have cat issues with plants. They like to try to use the pots for a litter box and they chew on leaves. Maybe I can put them in the 3rd bedroom and shut that door.

    I did throw a frost blanket over the broccoli and cauliflower. The cauliflower doesn't seem to do as well at 32 or below. The brussels sprouts are fine...and broccoli is okay too.

    I guess it's normal for a chaste tree to "die" at a hard freeze? And crepe myrtles?

    Someone talked about those cheap little greenhouses. I tried really hard to make one work. Put it against the house, staked it down. It crumbled in the spring winds. It was still staked, but the actual metal posts bent....and it was just a mess. The metal poles are those hollow kinds.

    I was disappointed.

  • AmyinOwasso/zone 6b

    Having played with those green houses, I learned you need a a wind break. We have some of those wheeled trash cans like the city gives you (our city any way). Ron keeps charcoal in one and birdseed in the other. I positioned them about 10 feet away. I also angled the house so I thought it would best stand up to prevailing winds. That said, I have watched the wind nearly pick the house straight up and the wind shreds the plastic. The best one I ever had was octagon shaped. I can't find another like it, and I've searched.

  • Nancy RW (zone 7)

    I was thinking of the tiny kitten last night, hoping he might somehow have healed up. I also feel really sad that he died. Your yesterday DID get off to a rocky start, Dawn! Can't imagine what Jesse must have been "thinking," when he did that! Maybe he's acting out since he hasn't been going on walks. Pets!

    Darn, HJ, I had a magic enzyme spray that worked great on cats, but that was probably 20 years ago. Haven't needed one since. Is yours a good one, Dawn? Our cats have acclimated to the cold weather now. They're not in and out and in and out. Well, except Tiny carried it to an extreme yesterday. I let him out at 6 am and he didn't come back in. . . I was worried because he NEVER does that. It was 3-4 pm and he was GONE. I went out and checked several times. Garry let Titan out between 3 and 4 and told him to go find Tiny. When Titan knocked to get back in, there was Tiny right beside him. ???? We laughed pretty hard. I said Titan must have had a hard time finding him since he was outside about half an hour. All's well that ends well.

    Our thermometer says it got to 29.9 last night, but nothing more has bit the dust and so the container pots are mostly still going. I think we all know they'll be gone next week. I so hope we'll have civilized-enough temps to get a bunch more leaves up.

    The other day--what was it, Monday? Sunday? LOL We got nearly 3 inches of rain--Mesonet says in the past 2 weeks we've had 6" and that's what we came up with, pretty much. At any rate--a lot of rain here lately.

    I guess I will go do a walk-around and see what's happening out there. Have a good day, all.

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    Okmulgeeboy, Good luck. I do what Amy does and hammer rebar into the ground to use as anchors for PVC hoops. It works great. This explains why, at this time of the year, my garden shed is crammed with cat litter buckets holding tons of rebar, wooden stakes, metal t-posts, PVC pile, etc. At least the buckets keep it fairly organized until I drag it out to use it again.

    Be careful and take your time. I've smashed my fingers a few times trying to hurriedly build a tunnel structure over existing plants. Stay warm too. Even though our weekend temperatures look nice enough, if the wind blows it will be pretty easy to fill chilled.

    I've never been ashamed to have a redneck garden either. If I was, my garden would be in trouble. Once upon a time long ago before I had low tunnel hoops and frost blanket weight row cover, I transplanted my tomato plants into the ground on what was supposed to be a nice day. I worked all day. All the tomatoes were planted, but none staked or caged, which eventually worked in my favor. At the end of the day, preparing to put away the tools and go inside, I looked up and saw huge black clouds racing our way from the west. Thunderstorms really weren't in our forecast, though there had been a vague mention of a little rain possibly falling. I just knew there was hail in them there clouds....(I can speak redneck too) and was in a panic at that point.

    Tim and I hurriedly grabbed every lawn chair, our picnic table, another plastic table, a couple of folding tables, sawhorses from the garage, big flower pots, buckets, etc. and set them up over the raised beds and at the corners of beds to cover what plants we could. Then we grabbed every tablecloth, blanket, quilt (I had a few), old bedspreads I had saved to cover up plants at night, etc. and threw those over the lawn furniture and other junk in the garden. Then we threw 2 x 4 lumber and bricks on the corners to hold the textiles in place. We were racing the clock big time, huffing and puffing as we ran around madly gathering items to use since the garden is about 200' from the garage. As we ran for the house to get inside before the storm hit, the boiling black clouds descended upon us and the garden with heavy rain and fairly good-sized hail. We didn't get to go out to check the plants until the next morning. The garden looked like a redneck yard sale had been set up....particularly to sell quilts. lol. Underneath all that mess, the plants were fine. It took us 4 times as long to methodically gather up all the garden junk and remove it from the garden as it took us to put it there in the first place, but I was so grateful that we kept the plants from being damaged.

    We are so happy to be able to support and encourage you. That's what we do here. I wish you were closer to my part of the state because I would have happily loaned you low tunnel materials and frost blankets.

    Next week's weather continues to look brutally cold, both temperature-wise for November and wind chill wise as well. That plays into the kitten announcement below..... I hope your plants make it through this early wicked cold spell.

    dbarron, Thanks. It was sort of a tough day. I have such a soft heart for animals and even though we expected that little kitten wouldn't make it, it still was so hard. I felt like I had failed it because I couldn't save it. I know that's not logical---not every animal can be saved, but it is how I felt. I am a better farmer than a rancher. Plant death doesn't make me cry---it may aggravate me, but it doesn't upset me like the death of an animal does. I couldn't do what my ranching friends do---they have to deal with sick, dying and dead animals routinely.

    Your forecast is brutal. Down here in zone 7b, we are only expecting lows around 20 degrees, but our wind chills will be in the single digits. That's pretty darn cold for us. It is rare for us to get this cold before Thanksgiving, or even before Christmas. I hope all your plants are snuggled in, mulched, cold-hardened and ready for this Canadian cold air.

    Amy, Thanks. I knew you'd understand the dog thing! I think of Sasquatch when Jesse has me tearing out my hair. I try to keep the sofa covered when the dogs or cats or inside and around them, but think I need to do a better job on the sofa while Jesse is young. Thanks for the mattress pad idea! I may get one to put beneath the blanket. Maybe I need to wrap the whole sofa in plastic! lol. Do y'all remember those clear plastic furniture covers that some little old ladies had on their living room furniture in the 1960s and 1970s? I always hated those, but I now understand why they had them.

    We have had those sofa covers too and they've been too short for our furniture. I think they are made short on purpose, but I'm not sure why. Maybe they are aimed more at apartment owners who often have shorter sofas due to space limitations? I used a love-seat-sized sofa cover to cover Tim's recliner. It certainly wasn't big enough to actually cover a love seat.

    Our animals don't like 'falling back' either. They still get hungry at the same time as before, no matter what hour the clock shows.

    I hope you enjoy your time with the boys. Time with the grandkids is the best time ever! I wish we were going to have the girls this weekend, but it is their weekend with their dads. I don't think Lillie's dad will screw up two weekends so close together, but if he does, we're always on call for sudden, unplanned visits with her. The girls are super-excited about the upcoming holidays because the last time they were here we bought a Mario Brothers Christmas Gingerbread House kit and put it up for some future weekend....I'm thinking we'll do it in December, but they want to do it the next time they are here. Who even knew such a gingerbread kit existed?

    Jennifer, Thanks, it was a crappy day and I was grateful that I could come here and vent to folks who would understand. I am determined that today will be a better day, and so far it is.

    I am sorry that Ethan's exotic goldfish didn't make it. Jana and Lillie have tried to have various fish with little success. I think it must be very hard to keep them healthy.

    My mom was not a pet person, so if we had pets, we were 100% responsible for their care. I went through a lot of the same experiences you did. I suppose I learned important lessons along the way, but mostly what I learned was that it was easier for me to keep plants alive than to keep pets healthy, well and alive. Chris also had a ton of pets growing up, including fish, hamsters, gerbils, a hedgehog, chameleons, exotic lizards and an iguana (in his teenaged years) and birds. Our house also was filled with animals and it is the same here though now we just have dogs, cats and chickens. Thankfully the chickens are not inside the house. I hope you have your coop ready for the cold that's coming. Aren't some of your chickens fairly young still? I'm not worried about ours but we're only expecting to go down to 21 degrees and they've tolerated significantly colder weather than that pretty much every year.

    My ruined coat now will be the outdoor working coat, but I still am very aggravated over that whole incident. He knew better and he got sloppy and careless and lazy and didn't do the job right. Oh, don't get me started! He was very remorseful last night. I didn't have to say a word because #DeadManWalking had told him all I had to say on the subject. lol. He brought home dinner last night--it was only fast food but it let me off the hook for cooking, and we'll go out to dinner tonight, as we always do on Friday nights, if we can get the kittens fed at the right time so we can leave the house for a few hours. There's a kitten complication.....

    We dropped to 32 here and that got the last of the fig leaves. It is just as well because next week's temperatures would have gotten them for sure. Chaste tree and crape myrtles go dormant and drop their leaves in the cold, but they should be fine. They can tolerate a lot of cold.

    Those cheap greenhouses are what they are....cheap. It frustrates people, and you cannot convince anyone to NOT try them, so I don't try very hard. Most people learn on the first one, and that's that. I never have bought one because I grew up around gardeners and learned from their mistakes. (grin) Properly reinforced and in a sheltered location, they can work as a wind block to protect seedlings that are being hardened off but I wouldn't trust one to keep plants warm at night.

    So, today, our dog Ace would not come in from the dog yard. He looked at me when I called him and ignored me, as if he were deaf. Ace was oddly distracted and just didn't want to come in. He doesn't like wet ground, mud or cold weather, so it was peculiar behavior on his part, and he kept looking towards the west. I finally got him to come to me, but in the process I was sure I could hear the distinct sound of a kitten meowing in the distance. After I got him indoors, I went out to look for the kitten. The sound was coming from the west of the dog yard, specifically from the back garden, which has no structure of any sort to protect an animal. As I walked back there, I could hear two kitties meowing and suspected I was about to find the huge, larger, healthier siblings of the feral kittens we had rescued---the two the mother had moved several times after abandoning the three we have been bottle feeding. I found them! I called "kitty, kitty, kitty" and they came running to me, which is odd for feral kittens who normally don't trust people, and I picked up the cold, wet kittens. Perhaps they came to me because they were desperate to get warm and dry. They were screaming, but stopped once I picked them up. They didn't seem hungry---it wasn't a hunger cry. Has their mother kept them out there in the back garden all this time? I assumed she'd move them to a dry location before the rain. I hope they haven't been out in the rain and cold for two days and three nights. So, I clutched them close to me to warm them up and dry them out, and I brought them indoors. I put them in the box with the two bottle-fed kittens (which are half their size, but that's also how they were when we found them) and they all snuggled up and went to sleep together. In a few minutes, when they wake up and cry, I'll feed lunch to all 4 of them.

    I probably could have left those two feral kittens out there. Their mother probably would have come back for them, right? But I wasn't thinking about today or tomorrow or Sunday. I was thinking about those temperatures next week that will barely make it up to a high around freezing, and will have lows around 20 and wind chills in the single digits. I couldn't leave 2 or 3 week old kittens out there, wet and cold, to try and survive in those conditions next week. So, now there are four...and my life got slightly more complicated, but I've been feeding three, so even after losing one and adding 2, I'll only be feeding four. I can sleep next month or next year, right? I'm not sure how long we'll be feeding more often, Jennifer, but the 2 have mastered the bottle and drink it pretty quickly now with little time wasted, so it doesn't take all that long. Last night they slept from about 1 a.m. to 8 a.m. so I kinda feel like I got an almost-normal night's sleep. They like to eat every 4 hours during the day but are stretching out the nighttime feedings further apart, so may be about to reach the size/age to sleep most of the night if not all of it.

    Tomorrow just became more complicated because we need to go to Costco and a few other places, and I have a long list of places to go and things to get. Since it is a long drive down to the DFW metro, when we go down there, we try to go everywhere the same day so we don't have to make that trip again too soon. I was trying to get a lot done this weekend ahead of the holidays since Thanksgiving is so late this year and there's not as many days as usual between Thanksgiving and Christmas. My plan was to just take the kittens with us, feed them as needed, and leave them sleeping in the SUV (parked in the shade of a tree to keep it from heating up too much in the sun) while we are in a store. We are in and out of stores pretty quickly---we go in with a list, get what we need, and get out. We don't waste time---we are quick, but it makes me a little nervous to think of leaving the kittens unattended even if only for short periods. Doing this with 4 kittens sounds harder than doing it with two. Still, I think we'll do it. We'll just take their milk and bottles and stuff with us and hope it all works out. If we reach a store and can't find a shady place to park with the kittens, one of us will stay in the vehicle with them while the other one runs indoors to get whatever is on the list. Having tiny kittens you're responsible for is not the same as being responsible for a tiny human, but it is a big responsibility and it wouldn't be right for us to leave them home alone all day and force them to skip a feeding.

    I'll be the happiest human on earth when they all are capable of eliminating their bodily wastes on their own with no help from me. Having to 'wash' them with a wash cloth (I bought a pile of baby washcloths for this purpose) to get them to urinate and defecate is getting old quickly. I have to do a load of laundry every day that is just towels, washcloths and blankets associated with kitty care. We're going to buy them a tiny litter box and regular cat litter (kittens cannot use clumping litter safely) tomorrow so we can start litter box training them as soon as they are able to go on their own. I am using so much hand sanitizer on my hands after kitten care that my hands are getting ultra-dry. There's worse problems to have. After they've eaten and have curled up on my chest and snuggled into my neck to purr and try to sleep, that is just the sweetest little moment and I hate to put them back into their box, but I cannot just sit and cuddle kittens all day. It is such a good thing this is the gardening off-season because I'd be so conflicted if I was ignoring important garden tasks to raise kittens. I'd still put the tiny kittens first, but I probably wouldn't be happy about it.

    Y'all have a great day and a great weekend.


  • Nancy RW (zone 7)

    Wow. It is so interesting to follow your kitten saga, Dawn. I am enjoying it SO much. Those are lucky little kittens, and yep, kittens are adorable. I've been enjoying you talk of pets, everyone, and being thankful Titan is grown and no trouble now. As I was catching up on your posts, I was smelling something not pleasant--the smell was getting stronger and stronger and more and more unpleasant. I turned around and there was Titan, about 2 feet away, his ears drooping and him looking like he was not feeling well. I jumped up and told him he positively REEKED and went to the door and let him out. I kept walking around hollering "EWWWW. YUCK. EWWWWW!" Garry came out of the office where he'd been working on banking stuff. And said, "EWWWWW what is THAT?" I looked over where he was pointing and only GOD could have known what it was--but it was some foreign body that Titan had upchucked--and the source of the smell. I immediately grabbed an empty cat litter bucked and several plastic bags to get it picked up--then rags in vinegar water to clean the carpet. I told GDW, "Bet you're glad I was home this morning to do this." He allowed as he'd have been cleaning up his own vomit, also, if he'd had to do it.

    So. Aren't pets fun?

  • HU-422368488

    Thanks Dawn, I went back to Lowes and found those anchor pins you showed me.

    I going to go back and pickup that rebar that Amy recommended.

    Then I'll be heading out that way after a while.

  • slowpoke_gardener

    I guess I am the "ODD ONE", but I liked my my small greenhouse, but it did not last long enough. The plastic started getting holes in it after about 3 or 4 years. Mine was made like a pup tent, you had to enter through the top. One side of the top had a screen zippered flap and a plastic zippered flap that zipped over the screen flap. The way I had mine fixed it was very stable in the wind, we had 60 MPH winds and it stayed stable with no protection. When the plastic went bad from the sun, I still used the frame and just pulled visqueen over it, and left one end open. I could never heat it properly, so I still carried the plant in and out a lot. I had a manual thermostat that turned on lights to give heat, but I was afraid of fire and did not use the lights much.

    Another thing that caused me not to replace that greenhouse was the fact that you had to step over the side, then get down on your knees to move plants in and out, that became rather hard for me to do for fear of falling. If I want to try something like that again I will just put down some type of floor so my knees wont get wet ( I have a 4'x 12' conveyor belt) and just use hoops and plastic at the south edge of the house.

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    Jennifer, It occurred to me that I didn't address pet stain removers. I have found that some work on most things, but none of them work on everything. They one I have been using recently is called OUT! PetCare Oxy-Fast and its active ingredient is hydrogen peroxide, so you have to test in an inconspicuous spot before using as it can fade fabrics and carpets. So far, though, it hasn't faded anything I've used it on, and it does seem to remove both the stain and the odor. You may have to use multiple applications on tough stains, especially if they've been around a while.

    The next time I need one of these products, I'm going to try Jackson Galaxy's. I love his show "My Cat From Hell" and feel like he wouldn't have attached his name to a product if he didn't believe in it. It does have great reviews on Chewy.com. Here's info on his pet stain/odor removal product:

    Jackson Galaxy Stain & Odor Remover

    Nancy, Tim and I always have felt like God intends for us to help whichever little animals show up here hungry, lost, unloved, uncared for or whatever. Sometimes it is as simple as knowing who the animal belongs to and calling them and saying "so-and-so is out running the streets and is at our house". Sometimes it means we end up adopting somebody. Sometimes it means we stop to put up a cow that is out in the road because we know its owner isn't home and we also know that if somebody hits that cow with their vehicle, the cow's owner is legally liable for damage to the vehicle and people in it. We've had one friend sued in such a circumstance and always try to prevent it from happening to someone else by chasing or leading cows (or goats) back into their pasture. Oh, and sometimes donkeys or horses. (Every day it is either a circus or a zoo around here.) I wasn't planning on adopting kittens, but we aren't going to let them stay out in the freezing cold, so I guess they are ours now, aren't they?

    You poor thing! I hate when the pets bring an animal carcass to the house, especially an old one. I'm glad you had vinegar on hand. We try to always have a bit gallon jug of white vinegar and a few large bottles of hydrogen peroxide around, and (for skunks) Lemon Joy and a giant (Sam's Club or Costco sized) bag of baking soda around. Between them, those items take care of a multitude of pet....errors. My stomach and I had to toughen up after we moved here. I used to be one of those folks who'd throw up if I saw someone else vomit, although motherhood broke me of that by necessity. I still didn't handle dead animal smells, or dead animal carcasses well, but have gotten better at all the blood and gore and vomit and rotting flesh stuff---because I had to. I still don't like it, but I deal with it.

    These kittens are so sweet. It is almost like today they finally can see the world (their early vision is very blurred and poor) and they are looking at everything, especially me, with wonder in their eyes. I could just sit and snuggle with them all day if I didn't have 101 other things to do.

    Okmulgeeboy, I am glad you could find what you needed. Those U-shaped anchor pins help a lot. If you are expecting high wind, push them in at an angle to keep them from lifting. I usually throw random items on the row covers to help hold them down if a wicked wind comes up too. Good luck.

    Larry, That little greenhouse worked for you because you made it work! I always love these when I see them, but then I remind myself that the wind tends to blow them away or bend their supports.

    Well, y'all, I checked the yard and garden while outdoors walking down to the mailbox (five precious, quiet minutes with nobody meowing at me or barking at me or trying to get me to throw a tennis ball indoors) and found a few things still in bloom. There's a few blossoms on the coral honeysuckle. The purple coneflowers in the garden still have blooms, but won't have them much longer. The tiny white asters in the pasture are blooming. I also see tons and tons of broadleaf plants, including bluebonnets, sprouting in the front pasture, so I believe my wildflower seed mix is germinating. I was worried the soil temperatures had dropped too much already, but apparently they haven't.

    We are getting some gorgeous autumn color in the trees now, and some of the red oaks have a lot of color this afternoon compared to what they had just yesterday. I think our trees are doing their best to peak this weekend before the next round of really cold weather hits them.

    I killed another wasp in the mudroom. I suspect it has been hiding and lurking there since coming in earlier in the week. I killed a lot one day, a few the next day, and one per day since then. Eventually I'll get them all.


  • slowpoke_gardener

    Dawn, yes the little greenhouse worked fine for short term, but it would take too much electricity to heat it. It worked fine for tomato and pepper plants to grow in while the weather was warming up in the spring. I normally cant plant tomatoes till the first week in may, if I try to have them ready before then I need to have some kind of protection for them. On cold nights I take my plants inside the house and don't risk a missed forecast. Weather like we have coming up in a couple of days, I have very little I can do to save plants.

    On another note, as I was going to Ft. Smith today I noticed I have winter peas coming up in the wildlife garden. I doubt that any of my wild flowers are coming up. I plant two pounds of wild flower mix and a few pounds of crimson clover along the highway. I hope it looks nice next spring. I still have about 3 or 4 ounces of zinnias to plant along the highway next spring, Plus, I told Doc at the Mena Co-op that I would buy another pound of zinnia seeds from him next spring. I will have to get a spot ready for them between now and then. The zinnias that I planted this year produced a lot of seeds and they were coming up before we had our first frost about 2 or 3 weeks ago.

  • hazelinok

    Thanks, Dawn. I will try Jackson's product. I really need Jackson to help with my daughter's cat, Diana. It's not that Diana is peeing on things...she's just a brat. She doesn't like anyone other than my daughter and my Mom. My Mom has kept Diana when Mason travels for work (or pleasure). She is mean to everyone else. She doesn't like even me. And most animals like me. The issue is that Mason will probably marry Mack soon. And Mack has two very sweet dogs. Diana does not like Mack and it's doubtful she'll like the dogs. I can see issues coming. AND I can't really take Diana because Diana doesn't like me or anyone around here.

    Diana is Juno's sister. They were littermates. We got Juno when she was 1 years old. Mason got Diana at 10 weeks. Juno is also a freak. She doesn't like anyone but me. It's as if these cats are one person cats. They are barely more than feral. Their mother (Silkie) showed up at my friends' home and they took her in...but she was always an outdoors cat. (unfortunately when they moved her to their new/old (he grew up there) home site, she ran into the street and was run over at some point. (Briefly Juno lived out there too, but my friend's mother went to get her and begged me to take her. The mother cat was used to being outdoors.) My friend said the mother cat killed and ate one of her kittens. That is beyond disturbing and I would have rather not known that. Another "friend" took the other kitten. It was the only male. He wandered...and they are the type of pet owner that doesn't spay or neuter, so he disappeared at some point. They were/are all beautiful black, shiny cats. It's funny that both Juno and Diana do NOT want to go outdoors at all. Juno's name was Olivia when they had her. No significance is saying that. haha.

    Anyway, we need Jackson to help Diana adjust to having doggie brothers.

    Larry, I really wanted my cheap little greenhouse to work. We took extra measures in wind protection. We staked it, put pavers on the floor. It made it through a couple of spring winds...but it finally just bent and caved. I saved all the parts and I might try to rebuild it. If so, I'll leave it outdoors on most days and then move it to the shop when we are going to be extremely windy. I just want it for hardening off seedlings in the spring. I don't really need to worry much about heating and such. I would love to have my neighbor's large greenhouse. She heats it with propane. She keeps her beautiful tropical plants in it. She has an amazing yard/pool with all of these giant pots of plants. Propane is expensive,, but buying new plants each year would probably be more expensive. I'll never have her set up, so...whatever.

    And honestly, I don't need to start a ton of plants. I can't remember how many tomatoes I had this year, but it was plenty. And it was less than 20. I have enough tomatoes in the freezer to make several batches of salsa and tomato sauce. (thank you, Juliet).

    Juliet, SunGold, and Early Girl--all keepers.

    I've thought about it. I'll grow those and then use up the other seed I already have. I'm not going to buy any tomato seed other than Juliet. Unless someone (Dawn?) wants to bring me a Juliet plant to SF. haha.

    Yeah, as much as I like tomatoes, I really don't need to grow a ton of them. I'm the only one around here that eats them fresh...and my garden space can be used for other things.

    I still have most of the Seminole pumpkins sitting on the floor of my kitchen. The green ones were moved to the shop...and they are turning orange. During the cold days, I might try to process a few more.

    Okay...I'm sleepy,

  • slowpoke_gardener

    Hazel, building a hardening-off area should not be that hard to do. That is part of what I had in mind when I started my, what I am calling my potting shed. I had thought about just building a folding structure to attached onto the south side of my shop and just letting it down in the months that I needed a hardening off area. But that would not give me a work area that I also want. So I decided on the 10' x 10' area that I could use for a "hide out" from Madge, and a hardening off area. Even though I have a lot of the material that I need it still wont be cheap. I feel sure I have already bought a $100.00 worth of material, and may have to buy that much more just to finish the outside.

  • AmyinOwasso/zone 6b

    I buy Natures Miracle pet stain remover at Atwoods (cheaper than Petsmart). Walmart might have it, but I've not looked there. I tried a couple of brands from Amazon. I bought 3, one is a stain remover more than odor remover and I haven't tried it. One I gave to my daughter because she has a stupid dog that goes in the house, so I don't have experience with it. The oxyclean stain remover gets stains out best. I used the other, but I guess it didn't impress me. The trick is to spray the enzyme, and keep it wet for a while and allow the enzyme time to eat the organic matter. (I think at least overnight) then clean it with a carpet cleaner or use the oxyclean stuff.

    I think your dog knew those kittens were in distress Dawn, and it may be something happened to the mother. Sometimes an animal accidently gets shut in a shed or outbuilding, too.

    I keep saying the same thing H/J, don't need that many tomatoes. But then I list the ones I ALWAYS want, and pretty soon I have too many. I only grow Large Red Cherry for cherry tomatoes now. And Gary 'O Sena for slicing, Arkansas Traveler, Grandma Suzy, Ramapo for Ron, Indian Stripe, Sioux, Heidi, Early Girl and, and, and....

    I was eating while you all talked about dog vomit, etc, ewww. Now I had 4 kids, and I've been barfed on many times, but Ron usually gets to clean up after pets. My cat likes to puke in the doorway of the bed room so I step in it barefoot. My animals have been wounding me. Last night Sasquatch chased the cat into my lap and she clawed my hand. This morning Sasquatch and Buddy saw a squirrel outside. I think both were standing on my bare foot when they launched themselves out the door and clawed my toe. My skin is too thin!

    NANCY no more falling!!! Ron, who worked in a hospital as a teen, believes in spic and span and a string mop.


  • Nancy RW (zone 7)

    Ha! I always do it on my hands and knees, rags and warm white vinegar water. I wring the rags out well so there is no extra moisture on the laminate. The few times GDW has done it, he gets down and only cleans the places that LOOK dirty! LOL That's why I generally get there first. Amy's lecturing me because my feet went right out from under me as I was walking across an area of floor that GDW "cleaned"--with PLEDGE! I landed on my left forearm. I'm okay today, bruise isn't even too bad. You must agree, tho, Amy, THAT one wasn't my fault.

    2-3 weeks ago I missed a step and landed on my left big toe and right thumb, apparently. The thumb's okay now, but the toe is NOT. I surely broke it. It's even still swollen.

    I have not done any real gardening the past week. I thought about mowing leaves again today and decided to wait until the last part of November since there are still plenty of leaves on the trees.

    Oh wow. I decided to spread a decaying bale of hay on the beds, and I'm glad I got to it before it disappeared! It had decayed SO beautifully that it was almost like compost! Told Garry I was going to go get 3-4 more bales next week so they can begin breaking down by next spring/summer.

    I've been totally sidetracked with the planting natives thing, and Doug Tallamy's book, Bringing Nature Home. What a GREAT book it is. Hahaha, one Goodread review said, "Don't read before bedtime. This book makes you want to go outside and plant hackberry trees in the middle of the night." Hahaha! It DOES! He writes charmingly about a subject near and dear to him, coming from a long entomology career. Excellent writer, and this is an excellent resource on insects with great pictures. Although he sees returning native plants to our regions as urgent, he writes gently, wisely, and even with some humor here and there.

    I've been able to get a lot of reading done the past 2-3 weeks, using my sore toe as an excuse! LOL Love it. New week coming up, right? Everyone stay warm over the next few days!

  • Nancy RW (zone 7)

    Listening to Craig LeHoullier on Gardener Joe Podcast talking about growing seeds indoors. Thank you HJ. And thank you Dawn, as always for first mentioning C.L. This is great stuff.

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    Larry, I just hate that it is so expensive to heat a greenhouse. We had neighbors right next door to us who had a small greenhouse when I was a kid, so at least I knew the perils and pitfalls of greenhouse gardening. When we built ours, I swore I would not spend money to heat it, and I haven't, but that does mean I use it less in winter than I thought I would....and, I don't care. I'm going to make the right financial decision for us even if it isn't the fun garden decision. I still can do a lot with a greenhouse heated with natural sunlight and a large mass of water in containers.

    With the sort of cold we're expecting in the next couple of days, there is little one can do anyway, except try to protect edible cool-season crops with frost blanket weight row covers and such. It is just so early for all of this. Most years we don't even have our first freeze down here until well into November, often right around Thanksgiving, and it was so very early this year, around October 11 or 12 at our place. I just hope this doesn't mean we are in for a wickedly cold winter although I am afraid that's exactly what it means.

    I am glad your winter peas are sprouting. I expect the wildflowers will be fine. Sometimes mine sprout in fall, sometimes in spring, and we tend to get a great show of flowers either way, it is more a matter of how early or late the show is. After all, the existing wildflowers drop seeds that survive all the weather and sprout on their own with no help from us anyway. The only thing that's ever really hurt our wildflowers are the drought years, like 2011, 2008, 2005 and 2003 when the flowers burned up in the drought/heat before they could set seed. It hurt (obviously) the annual reseeding wildflowers a lot more than the perennial ones. The years I overseed the pastures with wildflowers seeds are meant to make up for years like that when the wildflower population struggles in the heat, or just because I notice that a particular area needs more wildflowers than it has had in recent years. Our native prairie grasses seem to be more aggressive growers and would force out most of the flowers if they could, so I continually counter that by sowing more wildflower seed.

    Jennifer, I've learned so much from Jackson Galaxy's show and it has helped me understand that for every problem cat, there's a root cause behind the problem. I think it is up to all of us (since we can't have him on speed-dial) to study our pet's situation and try to figure out what is causing the behavior they exhibit. So often it seems to be because of territorial insecurity, but then you know, every now and then there's a cat that has an underlying medical condition causing pain, so they last out at people or other animals because of their pain, or maybe PTSD because of some trauma they experienced that the pet guardian might not be aware of. I can see where it would be very hard for average pet guardians like us to figure out those tough cases. It has shocked me that there have been a few cases where they've had to put a cat on tranquilizers or some sort of prescription meds because of a mental/psychological/physiological condition they have, but why does it shock me? We have people on all kinds of medications because of brain chemistry issues. Why not cats? I hope y'all can figure out what is causing Diana to be so mean.

    Usually when a mother cat eats her kitten it is because something is wrong with the kitten and she is trying to protect the rest of the litter from the illness by removing it from the scene. It is hard to think about, isn't it, but it comes from an instinct to protect the group, not from meanness.

    I suspect Diana has a territorial insecurity issue with the dogs---she doesn't feel safe, perhaps? My solution would be to give her a place to retreat to where she's out of their reach? I'd probably buy her a tall cat tree, and maybe put up some of those elaborate cat shelves on the walls where a cat can climb for safety. (They sell them at places like Chewy's.com but a person could make their own pretty easily.) I love the one I'm going to link, but the price tag is scary. I think it wouldn't be that hard to DIY something similar though.

    Elaborate Cat Shelf System

    Our cats have no dog issues. Our dogs may bark at the cats, or may think about chasing them, but one little swipe of the cat claws across a dog's nose reminds the dog or dogs who's the boss and that is that. Sometimes, though, a cat is too afraid of the dogs to swat them with his/her claws so then the dogs think they have the upper hand. Jesse is petrified of cats because he's been clawed a couple of times but, being a puppy, he persists in trying to engage the cats in 'play'. One of these days he will learn that such engagement always ends badly for him and he'll leave the cats alone all the time, not just most of the time.

    This is my year off from veggie gardening so I can focus, focus, focus on the landscape renovation, even though y'all know I have to have a few peppers and tomatoes in pots or I'd lose my mind. I'm not going to raise them from seed though. I'm just going to grab a handful of plants when they arrive in the stores in March---I expect to be about ready to harvest the first fruit by the time the Spring Fling arrives, and that is why I rarely bring home tomato or pepper plants from the SF---it is too late for my location as the plants need to already by growing, blooming and producing in order to beat our wicked heat. I'm worried we are getting spoiled by the wet springs---we have been wet and mostly cool in spring since 2015 and that long run of abnormally wet, cool spring weather that persists into May or June cannot last forever. It is easy to forget that prior to 2015, we had wicked drought in 2011 through 2014 that made getting a good tomato harvest hard because it got so hot so early.

    Amy, The mother cat is an irresponsible, fat, lazy white thing who lives about 1/4 to 1/3 mile away from us, I believe, based on her direction of travel when she leaves our place to travel across the fields. She is showing up here every evening and every morning wanting to be fed when I feed the three big kittens (not her kittens, which are in the house) out at the garage. Yesterday she brought 3 friends with her. I fed the big kittens their canned food inside the garage and closed the door to keep the adult visitors outside, and gave them dry food. They ate it, but they weren't impressed, and they didn't act especially hungry. I think they'll stop showing up here if they cannot access the kittens' canned food. None of these are skinny or act particularly feral---I just think they probably have dry food at their homes and discovered that the kittens get canned food here at night, in particular, to lure them into the garage so they can be inside of there all night for their own safety. Because she is so large (i.e. fat) and clearly well-fed, and also because she seems to have a home, I don't understand why she had her kittens in our garage and later abandoned them twice. Perhaps she has poor mothering instincts. I do think her family (whom we do not know) have dogs, so maybe she didn't feel safe having kittens on that property---it has two homes, two families, and multiple dogs.

    I agree with you, Amy, about no more falling! Oh, and our skin does get thinner as we age, and I sure can tell it with my own. I'm perpetually scratched or bruised from the cats and dogs. They don't mean to hurt us, as you know, but they sure manage to do it.

    Nancy, You're so lucky you didn't break a bone. We go on lots of broken bone calls here....people getting thrown off horses, getting pinned to a fence or wall by a cow, falling off porches or decks or ladders or tractors or whatever. It is scary how often their overall health, especially if they are older folks, declines after a fall. Having said that, one of our neighbors got thrown off a horse on leased cattle land a few years back, and had to be brought up out of the river bottom area in the back of a pickup truck, lying in the bed on a rough ride across pastures, with a broken hip or pelvis or both.....he was 89 and his motivation to do all the proper healing and physical therapy was so he could get back on his horse and ride again. I don't know. I might have taken that injury as a sign that I should give up horseback riding myself.

    There is NO book on this earth that would compel me to plant hackberry trees for any reason. LOL. Our next door neighbor had them in Fort Worth, did not control them, let them reseed everywhere, and those trees grew up in our fenceline and destroyed our fence. I hate them. Oh, we have them (and sugarberries too) here in our woodland and they are aggressive and re-seed everywhere, but I'd never ever under any condition plant one on purpose because of the way they spread aggressively. Of course they feed wildlife---so does poison ivy, but I don't plant it either. If Tim and I had nothing to do with our time and energy except cut down trees, we'd cut down all the hackberries and sugarberries, and just doing that on our few acres would take the rest of our natural lives, so we'll never be rid of them but maybe we can keep them from spreading more. The ones growing on the southern edge of our woodland are moving towards my garden, year after year, creeping ever closer and that's going to cost them their lives after Tim retires one of these days. Native plants are great and we have acres of them, but one reason they survive, thrive and do so well in the first place is that often they are aggressive spreaders and growers and can take over an area. My goal as a nature-loving gardener is to have many native plants, but not too many of the super-aggressive ones that take over every square foot of space. There has to be balance.

    We are lucky because we never bulldozed and clear cut our property, so we don't have to restore native plants to it. There's also plenty of non-natives we perpetually work to eradicate because of their extreme aggressiveness. We also work to control natives that are aggressive spreaders. All these years of watching how the plant community members interact with each other has given me the opportunity to observe how the plants, both native and non-native, have advanced and spread ever since we bought this land way back in 1997. What have I learned? Too much to write here, but one of the big lessons is that most plants are relentless in their desire to spread and grow, and if we don't control them, the aggressive spreaders will crowd out many equally desirable (or more desirable) plants. Knowing in your mind that, logically of course, this sort of thing happens, but seeing it first-hand can be a rather shocking experience. When we first moved here, my attitude was that I would not cut down a tree for any reason because we need all the trees. Ha! I sure learned, and very quickly, how wrong I was about that. We have to cut down trees and hack back the jungle or they'd crowd us, our gardens, our house and outbuildings, and our animals right off the property. It is easy to think you'll just sit back and let the plants slug it out among themselves, but that doesn't really work either because a few aggressive species will spread so much that they hurt your property's overall biodiversity. If I never see another hackberry, sugarberry, eastern red cedar or honey locust tree on our property ever again, it will be too soon. They are here, and we'll never get rid of them, but part of our landscape reno is to cut out and remove a honey locust tree we left near the dog yard for shade, and now it and its suckers are overtaking the entire dog yard fence and need to be removed, and their suckers and stumps need to be killed with a stump/brush killer or we'll be fighting them the rest of our lives, and we don't need their thorns near the dog yard. Our native persimmons also sucker and spread as groves, and I've tried to leave them alone, but they are moving into the back garden, so they're going to be removed this winter too.


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