It may be mid-November, but that’s no time to give up on the years gardening.  At the very least you should be mowing that lawn covered with nutrient filled dead leaves, placing the mix on your garden, and rototilling it in to decay for next spring.  I’ve already planted a row of garlic and you might like to do the same, even adding some multiplier onions if you’ve an out-of-the-main garden place to put them.  They’ll last for years.

Now is a good time to seed in some sweet peas, too.  These are pretty plants that work best if planted in late fall, and it’s quick and easy to dig up a spot, maybe near a fence for support, plant a row a couple of inches deep, and add a bit of nutrient for spring growth.  Tulip bulbs, hyacinths, daffodils, crocus, etc. can still be planted too, and they’re equally quick and easy to plant.  I like to dig the soil deeply for these, adding some compost or bagged cow manure, a bit of bone meal, and a light dusting of fertilizer.

Plant the larger bulbs several inches deep, small ones a bit more shallow, and do give some thought to what you plant and where.  It’s silly to plant smaller bulbs behind larger ones, or place bulbs individually instead of in clusters.  Color is important too, and you’ll want a nice blend, rather than colors that clash.

A couple of years ago I spent some time in Amsterdam, which has to be the tulip capital of the world.  There was a huge open air market near the downtown canals, a long stretch of tents and semi-permanent structures that held everything from fresh cut flowers to thousands of tulip bulbs, maybe tens of thousands.  There were tulips of every imaginable kind, color, and shape, and I was tempted to buy some, though it might have been tough to get them through U.S. customs.  But most should be available in catalogs and department stores.

There are other things that can still be planted, and raspberries, gooseberries, and blackberries are among them.  If you get them in the ground very soon.  The roots and short canes will have time to produce new underground growth this winter, and be ready to produce at least a small crop come spring. 

This time of year is a perfect one for thinking about spring crops, and you might give some serious thought to tomatoes.  Most years we hurry out to the nearest nursery or greenhouse and buy whatever they offer, which is okay within reason.  But tomatoes vary considerably, and this year one type might thrive in the wet or dry weather, hot sun or semi-constant cloud cover, and another might struggle just to survive. 

I solve the problem a little by buying at least six kinds to plant, but you’ll do even better by starting your own seeds under a gro-light or at least in a south facing window.  Do this and you’re not limited to what the greenhouses want to offer.  Instead, you can thumb through the catalogs and pick whatever strikes your fancy, or better yet, get a catalog that specializes in tomatoes and plant some unusual types and some of the old time kinds (heirlooms) that grandpa liked to plant.

Have you ever heard of Prudens Purple, Brandywine, Tigerella, Sun Belle, or Yellow Stuffers?  They’re out there waiting, and might be much better than ordinary Better Girls or Beefsteaks.  Once you’ve found a few open pollinated types that please you, it’s easy to save seeds from year to year and save some money, too. 

Pick the tomatoes when they’re very ripe and “squishy”, and cut them in half.  Scoop the seeds out, discarding the flesh, place them in a jam jar and fill it with water.  A mold will develop in 4-5 days that helps to remove the gelatinous seed coating, which can prevent germination.  Pour the seeds into a sieve and wash thoroughly with water to remove the mold, then arrange them on a plate and leave to dry.  Once dry, store the seeds in a paper envelope in a dark and cool place until needed next spring, and make sure you label each variety.  Nothing to it.

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