Gardening can be therapy.
I am always a little relieved when November is over. It has, in my experience, been notoriously dreary and draining. This November was not much different for me. Between the election, daylight savings changes, increasing darkness, Thanksgiving, holiday season kickoff, and of course our dear 2020 companion the pandemic…it has been a hot mess of a month, am I right? As gardening has often served as a respite from chaos, allowing me to maintain some balance, I was excited to continue my fall container vegetable gardening as well as my usual November garden chores.
My November Container Gardening Goals
After rats discovered my deck container garden, my first priority was to provide more permanent protection measures for my plants and also remove any other attractants from the area to deter additional midnight snacking. I also wanted to make sure that my plants were getting more sun than they had the previous month. There was not a lot of growth on any of the plants during the month of October, and I want to have more than just baby greens to eat through the winter. Lastly, I want to ensure that the plants are not getting overwatered by the constant drizzle of the Pacific Northwest November. This will also not support the plants growth and will likely wash out any valuable nutrients in the soil.
Protecting from Pests and Weather
To address these goals, I first and foremost made sure there was absolutely no more birdseed of suet or other potentially appetizing things on the deck (aside from my plants) that may lure rodents onto the deck. Next, I completed the enclosed hoop structure on top of my garden cart to protect the kales from excessive rain and rodents. By utilizing an old painting tarp and many magnets, I was quickly able to giftwrap my previously installed hoops to enclose the garden cart. I then addressed the radishes and garlics. These I surrounded with potted mints and catnip plants as I had read the oils of these plants were unpleasant to rodents. I also began covering the radishes nightly with a plastic dome from a seed tray, which also provided protection during harsh rainstorms.
A big step I took to specifically address the sun situation was to start monitoring the sun patterns and weather more closely. Doing so allowed me to relocate plants to specific locations on my deck that maximized sun exposure. On sunny days, I would also unwrap the garden cart to give the plants more direct light than with the plastic cover. The unfortunate part to both steps was that I then had to remember to go back out and pack all the plants back away so they would be protected overnight, which I did forget on occasion without significant impact fortunately.
November Gardening Observations
All in all, November could have gone a lot worse as far gardening adventures go. However, there are a few things that stand out to me in retrospect:
I wish I had started my vegetable plants a month earlier
I really underestimated how many leaves the row of poplar trees behind my house would drop by October and as the angle of the sun continued to decrease, the amount of light on my deck over the course of a day was significantly impacted. This resulted in my plants being really small at the end of the month. If I had started the plants a month earlier than I did, I would have still had some of the increased light of August to support the plants, although I acknowledge that poses additional challenges considering it would mean starting seeds in the heat of August.
I wish I had just a few more plants
Yes, I was just starting the whole fall container vegetable garden thing this year, but I love gardening so much and this only makes me want to garden more. I’m also a little bummed that the rats ate half my plants and now my crop potential is looking especially miniature.
I am excited to continue container vegetable gardening
I’m already planning to set up a growing area in the basement that I had for seedlings a couple years ago. This time I will expand it since my husband and I have cleared more space (purging your stuff sometimes is good for you). It will also allow me to do more aggressive succession planting in spring so that I get more harvest from the containers I have.
As my little plastic greenhouse has seen better days, I’m looking into building a new one. I am hoping I can expand on the size slightly so that I can have more space for hardening off young plants and also protecting warmer weather plants until outdoor temperatures warm up. Between this and a couple additional containers, I think I will more than double the number of vegetable plants and hopefully my harvest so that I can have more fresh foods to cook with!
Fall garden maintenance should count as a workout
I think raking wet leaves should be considered a high-impact upper body workout. Also, a day of planting bulbs should be considered equivalent to one doing 100 pushups. My core and shoulders have never been so sore than after two weekends of bulb planting. I’m not doing hardcore workouts anymore with rheumatoid arthritis, so I feel like this should all count for something in addition to being able to harvest some delicious vegetables (eventually!).
Vegetable Gardening Continues!
Though many of my plants are not harvestable at this time for anything more than baby green salad, they have all survived another month and have grown significantly more now that they are getting more direct access to sunlight. Hopefully, I can continue harvesting lettuce and arugula through December and will have mature enough radishes to finally try a new recipe I have for Radishes Anchoïade. Stay tuned for another update on the gardening in January.