November in the Tropical Urban Garden with Nik: Merida, Yucatan, Mexico
Life got away from me and this post got really really behind. I hope your November garden is going well. It’s been rainy, but not overly so. Things are finally looking up for the vegetable gardeners.
I did a poll recently on Instagram asking people how their garden looks. My followers could choose between “great” or “more or less” The results showed me the majority of my followers from the Yucatan responded “more or less” Honestly, I also responded with more or less. The huerto has been rain logged since July with fungus growing on the backside of my leaves and the mulch turning soupy.
Last month I finally trusted the weather enough to transplant seedlings into their garden beds, I was able to plant tomatoes and bok choy. I’m happy to report that they are thriving. (see picture above. Stay tuned to this “in the garden” posts because I’ll give a month update on that bed)
This month I’ll transplant again around the 11-13th of the month. Unfortunately only tomatoes because my seeds for greens, lettuces and peppers got rained out by back to back October hurricanes. We have and can expect more light rain throughout the month of November but overall seedlings should be pretty happy and you can start anything you want to eat.
Work to do in November
If you haven’t gotten them up yet now is the time to put out your trellises.
I’ll be trellising my tomatoes using the string method, but you can use cages or stakes too.
Pictured you can see an example of my trellises using horquetes.
I’ll be writing a post soon about the string method for tomato growing, so get up your trellises soon.
My first tomatoes are 6 weeks old and currently as tall as my hand, I like to add the strings before the turn 8 weeks. My pepper plants also usually need a branch about hip height to keep them standing. I usually tie the plant around the base stem only in 3-4 places.
In a few months if I can get kale to sprout it will need staking too, but right now I don’t have any to worry about.
As kale grows they need support, but usually do fine alone for 2-3 months.
Take a good look at your seeds and figure out what each one needs.
You can always ask me in the comments about something specific and I’ll be happy to help you find the perfect trellis for your space.
You should seed lots of plants – I’ve got more tomatoes, pepper and green things in seed trays. Plant as much as your garden can hold. This is the best time of year for garden vegetables and you don’t want to miss the beautiful weather window.
Plant your root veggies. I’ve been holding and holding on this one. I almost did it in October but got spooky with the weather report, and I’m so glad I waited. I think now is finally the time. Roots need water and rain but they don’t want to be in standing water. I’ve seen my garden flood too many times this year to take the chance with my limited seed supply. I really need my carrots and beets to produce seeds for saving this year so I have enough to plant next year. Now is the time to finally get the roots, onions and other bulb plants into your garden beds. Remember you can directly seed these plants they don’t need to go into a seed tray.
Continue garden maintenance. Even though weeds are slowing down as the rain slows down, there will still be plenty of volunteers in the winter garden.
Now is also a good time to trim back your bushes and anything that overgrew during the rainy season. I try not to prune when downpours and storms are likely because open cuts on plants leave room for fungus to enter. Now that it’s dryer I’ll prune the overgrow tops of oregano and pronto alivia and dry it for tea and other kitchen uses.
If you haven’t started yet, now is time to spray your baby plants to protect from fungus, bugs and other pests. Usually when plants are still in seed trays and the first weeks after transplanting you don’t want nor need to spray them for pests but after about week 8 they will need continuous treatment and monitoring especially here in the tropics. Here is my post again about sprays.
Check all your plants for fungus and pests. They could have started to rot or mold during the hurricanes and it’s important to treat that now before adding more plants in or around existing problems. For my lime tree mold I am spraying with neem oil one week and then baking soda/soap the next. For soft bodied insects I am spraying soapy water mixed with cooking oil, neem or garlic.
Don’t forget to turn the compost or keep burying your organic waste. If you prune trees collect the leaves to dry and use as material in your compost. Sometimes I lay cut branches over empty garden beds and let the leaves fall off naturally. It takes a few weeks and then I can shake the branches a bit and leave behind the dry material and bundle the sticks for other uses. Compost always needs double the dry for every organic you add, even when direct composting in your beds. Cardboard can work as dry material if you don’t have enough leaves.