Saturday, November 18, 2017

How to extend the garden season

Portable greenhouse
Saturday, November 18, 2017

When temperatures start their downward trend, there are ways to protect your crops and extend the season.  This works for either the fall, winter or spring.  Give them a "coat" of sorts to protect them against those drops in temperatures.  There is also the old time technique of a hot box. 

What can you do to extend the season?  
*Throw a sheet or plastic or other light weight cover over them when the cold snap comes in.  I remember my grandmother putting a sheet over hers.
*Buy “cloches” which are little plastic or glass bell shaped covers and place over each plant.  
*Put a portable greenhouse over them. 
*Use wall of water.  They really do work!
*Another option is to plant them in pots so you can bring them into the garage when temperatures get into the 30's and 40's.
*I am keeping some plants on the covered deck.  This will keep them protected from frost, but tender plants like basil won't make it through nights at or below freezing on a porch.
*Add mulch.  Mulch will raise the garden bed temperature and also keep the ground temperature more moderate, less swings.


Cloche
The watch-out for covering with plastic, cloches or greenhouses is that you can fry your plants if you leave them closed up during sunny, warmer days.  The cloches that I have come with vents that I can leave open, but I have had casualties even with leaving the vent open.  My portable mini-greenhouse has a zipper opening that makes it easy to vent.  For plastic sheeting, you will either have to remove it when it warms up or have a way for the ends to be opened to allow cooler air to circulate and keep the plastic off the plants themselves. 
Surprisingly, I had some peppers under cover and others that were not, and the uncovered peppers did just fine, even when the temperature dropped to 28 degrees.  Getting down into the teens would kill any pepper plants left outdoors.

For the peppers, tomatoes or eggplants that you loved, you can overwinter them indoors because they are tropical perennials.

I have used all in the garden.  There are pros and cons to each.  The covers can blow away if not weighted down.  The cloches and mini greenhouses can get too hot on a sunny day if not opened.  If you work, it is hard to time opening just after the sun rises depending on when you need to be at work.

How long can a cover extend the season?
Tunnels (row cover with hoops) and cloches- 6 to 7 weeks for broccoli, cabbage and greens.  4 weeks earlier for melons and squash
Wall of water-Up to 8 weeks for tomatoes and peppers.  Just be sure that the ground and wall of water is nice and warm before planting these warm weather lovers.
Mini greenhouse-Up to 8 weeks.  I put jugs of water inside my mini greenhouse to moderate the temperature inside.  I have had my lettuce and greens last all winter in the portable green house.

Cold frame or hot box/bed-This is a technique I have not tried and it has been around since glass was made.  My Grandpa had several that Granny used every spring.  
Manure hotbed-Horse manure with straw bedding used to keep the hotbed warm to get warm season crops seedlings started or can be used to keep the cold crops going through the winter months.  Back in the day, manure hotbeds fed Paris through the winter.

Hotbeds are dug into the ground a couple of feet and lined with bricks to act as an insulator.  Several inches of horse manure with straw bedding was placed in the bed, wetted, allowed to age a few days, then topped with 8' of soil and when the temperature is between 70-80 degrees, seeds are planted.  Close attention has to be paid with opening and closing the window type lid so that the plants don't overheat on warm sunny days.

Of note, fresh manure can have the bad microbes like e. coli.  It is recommended to fully compost any manure to eliminate the risk and to "cool" the manure so as not to burn the plants.

You can use without the manure.  These are called cold frames.  The temps won't stay in the 70's day and night like they will for hot beds, but will sustain cold loving crops through the freezing temps of winter.


For more on cold loving crops and gardening:  
You can garden year round in small space  
Homegrown, organic salads in a Midwest winter  
Time to plant for fall and winter harvests!  
Plant now for winter and spring  
Fall and winter greens  
Plant a last minute edible fall/winter garden
Winter growth slow down

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Make your own fragrant herbal body oil



Sunday, November 12, 2017

It is easy and fun to make your own body oil!  You can make an oil specific to your skin type and add herbs for specific benefits or just for the scent.  Or add your favorite flower.

I have very dry skin, inherited from my grandmother.  I tried every lotion I could find and none were moisturizing enough for my alligator skin!  I remember Granny doing the same thing; looking for a lotion or oil that would be moisturizing.

I also started reading about the chemicals that are in most personal care products and thought there had to be a better, healthier way to help my dry skin with fragrance I love.

I then tried different kinds of oils-almond, coconut, jojoba, olive.  Out of all of them, coconut oil ended up being the most moisturizing of all.  The draw back to coconut oil is that it is a solid below 75 degrees F.  

I added olive oil and almond oil to the coconut oil to get it to stay liquid at lower temps.  You can always put the oil under the shower to heat it back up if you prefer more coconut oil in the mix.

I use all organic ingredients: raw coconut oil, cold pressed olive oil and cold pressed almond oil.  Cold pressed keeps the most nutrition in the oil.

I remember what I read once-your skin is the largest organ of your body and absorbs everything you put on it.  So, only put on your skin what you would eat, including the quality of the ingredients.

I read my "Herb Encyclopedia" book to see what herbs from my garden would be beneficial.  The two that were great for anti-aging were lavender and chervil.  I grow both in my garden with no chemicals, all organically.  They smell great too added to the oil!  You get a 2 for 1 benefit.  Start a kitchen herb garden!

You can use any herbs or flowers you like!  Flowers that are edible  Be sure to dry them before adding them to your body oil. Fresh herbs can harbor microbes.  Harvesting and drying herbs

Here is the final 1 quart jar recipe I ended up with:
1/3 quart coconut oil
1/3 quart olive oil (loaded with CoQ10 and other antioxidants)
1/3 quart almond or sunflower oil
2 tablespoons shea butter (optional)
2 tablespoons dried lavender
2 tablespoons dried chervil

I just put them all in a quart jar and shake well (if the coconut is a solid, I put in a bowl of hot water to liquify it).  Let it sit in a cool, dark area for a couple of weeks to let the herbs infuse the oils.  It will smell wonderful!  

Then use a tea strainer to catch the herbs as you put them into the body oil dispenser you will use.  I use a glass jar with a flip top lid.  I apply right after I shower.  This timing keeps the moisture locked in your skin.


If you need your scented oil asap, you can gently heat the oil on the stove with the herbs to infuse quickly.  Keep the temp below 100 degrees F as you infuse your oil to keep all the wholesome goodness of your oil and herbs intact.  You'll have scented body oil in 20 minutes.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Winter growth slow down

Outdoor potted lettuce

Saturday, November 11, 2017

If you have noticed that plants stop growing in the winter, whether indoors or out, you would be right.  It is not just the temperatures that affect this slow down.  It is the amount of sunlight!  

Basically, plants go dormant when receiving less than 10 hours of daylight.  For my latitude, this is from November 17-January 24.  You can look on the weather channel to see when your daylight hits 10 hours.

When planting in the fall for winter crops, you need to plan that they are at full, harvestable size by November 17th (I add 14 days to be on the safe side).  They will remain basically this size until the end of January, when they begin regrowing.  If growing in a greenhouse, the warmer temperatures will help plants grow, but at a much slower rate than during longer daylight times.  

The same techniques for protecting spring crops work for your fall and winter gardens.  Protect your new plants from a late frost
Lettuce and greens in January under a portable green house

Growth starts back up at the end of January, for indoor and outdoor plants.  The lettuce, chard, sorrel, cabbage, kale, celery, and herbs that have overwintered will start growing with vigor again after this time with clear days and warmer temperatures.

Covering plants with row covers or portable greenhouses can help your plants grow; warmth does make a difference.  Just don’t expect significant growth until we get back to at least 10 hours of sunlight.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Preparing for a hard freeze



Wednesday, November 8, 2017

When a hard freeze is in the forecast, it is time to pick the last of the tomatoes, peppers and eggplants and clean the plants from the garden and give your cold crops a coat to protect them all winter!

You can compost any that were disease free, but dispose af any diseased plants in the garbage.  Only high sustained temperatures will destroy the spores and it is not worth the risk of spreading disease into next year’s garden.

Peppers will do well indoors.  They will continue to flower and fruit for weeks.  Their flowers and red fruits are pretty, too.  Come spring, they will have a one to two month head start on the season.

This is the time of year to put a coat over your potted plants left outdoors planted with cold crops.  The best place to locate your plants and greenhouse is close to protection and on the south side of the house in full sun.  Putting the greenhouse against the house will help keep the temperatures warmer for your plants.

I will put my mini portable greenhouse over my three Earthoxes that contain kale, celery, French dandelion, spinach, lettuce, sorrel, and corn salad.  I also put inside the greenhouse along the outside edge, 5 gallon jugs filled with water and spray painted black.  These will help moderate the temperature inside the greenhouse.

The biggest risk with a greenhouse?  Overheating!  The sun’s rays are quite hot on a cloudless day.  I open the vent on my greenhouse when it is sunny and in the 30’s.  I will unzip the front door flap when it gets into the 40’s.   In the 50’s, the cold crops really don’t need any protection.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Early November edible garden

Late fall tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and storage beans.
Sunday, November 5, 2017

Well, we had our first light frost a couple of weeks ago in our Zone 7 garden.  The temperature got down to 32 degrees F.  It was cold enough to bite the eggplant, basil, and pepper plants.  

The pepper and eggplant plants were not severely affected by the frost; just yellowing and curling of the leaves.  One of the basil plants turned black.  The others are fine.  The tomatoes don't seem to have been affected.   

I could have used a fabric cover to protect these cold sensitive veggies and they would have been fine for this temperature.

The green beans were done about a month ago.  The storage beans are ripening a few pods and then they will be ready to be cut and composted.  I'll not pull them so any nitrogen nodules on their roots will be left in the soil for next year.  I'll plant nitrogen hungry plants there next season like lettuce and spinach.

There was not enough damage to the tomatoes, eggplant or pepper plants to halt the fruit production.  The next 10 days do not show any temperatures down to freezing so I will leave them growing.  The next time the forecast has the temperatures going into the 20’s, I will harvest all the peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant fruits and call it a season for these summer veggies.
Tomatoes and peppers ripening on the counter.

You could bring the peppers indoors and they will continue fruiting for weeks and put them back out in the spring to get a head start on summer.  I get enough hot peppers off each of the plants to eat and freeze that I won’t do that this year.  I am thinking about bringing in some of the meaty sweet peppers that did great along with the Chiltepin pepper which is hard to get started. 

You could also put the potted tomatoes, eggplant and peppers in a greenhouse and lengthen the season for at least another 4 weeks.  I may bring in the white eggplant since this variety is hard to get going from seed and hard to find as a plant. 

The cold season crops like lettuce, kale, broccoli, onions, mustard, sorrel are very happy.  The celery is still going strong.  It doesn’t seem to be affected by heat or cold.  We harvest from it year round.

The rest of the herbs are doing very well-thyme, savory, oregano, chives, rosemary, sage, bay, parsley, mint.  The dill gave up last month.  I'll bring in the bay plants to overwinter in the garage when a freeze is called for.  

Don't forget your local Farmers Market if you want local and freshest produce in season.  Many are open all winter long!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Reflecting back on the 2017 edible garden


Saturday, November 4, 2017

Now is the time to reflect back on the last edible garden season to capture what went well and what did not.  What you planted too much of and what you didn't plant enough of.  Make sure to include the names of varieties that did well and those that didn't so you have them for future reference.   

Here are my reflections on this year's garden............

Overall
In general, the garden did pretty good.  There were high points and not so great turn outs for the season.  Just your typical edible garden season!  

The good
The chard, green beans, okra, cultivated dandelions, cilantro, sage, rosemary, lettuce, corn salad, sorrel, tarragon, garlic, onions, basil, rosemary, sage, tarragon, zucchini did fabulous!

The okay
Tomatoes did okay.  Many in the area had a terrible year with plants dying in July.  I did have a couple that died.  Then had some that did okay and a few that did very well.  I am still getting 1-2 quarts a week to put up in the freezer.  The eggplants did pretty well.  Turkish Orange did great in the beginning and then the Casper and purple eggplants kicked in when the Turkish Orange wound down.

My chard had something come eat it in September, but then recovered and is doing great again.  

For some reason my chives did not expand much.

The bad
So my mustard, sprouting broccoli and brussels sprouts all get attacked by pests this year.  They are all in the same family.  I said I wasn't going to grow any this year to break the cycle, but had some volunteers that I didn't have the heart to yank out.  Next year, I will be strong and wait until fall to get them going after the pests have moved on.

I didn't have the best luck in getting my fall lettuce and spinach sprouted this fall for winter harvesting.

Tomatoes
I tried some new tomato varieties and also planted my standbys.  The new varieties did not pan out the best.  The standbys did well so no new varieties to add to the "favorites" list.
-Lucid Gem had fun colored fruits but the vine wasn't sturdy enough to hold the fruit and I didn't get a lot of them either.  Will not do these again next year.
-Cherokee Purple did well.  Nice slicers.  Will keep in the garden next year.
-Italian Red Pear an heirloom paste had a health vine, but ripened late and took a long time.  I planted it in more shade than last year, so will plant in full sun next year and 2 plants instead of just 1.  Adding these to sauce makes a smooth, creamy sauce.
-Principe Borghese did not do well.  Will not plant next year.
-I tried the Chocolate Pear again this year and the vine died back early.  I don't think I will try it again.
-Small and medium yellow storage tomatoes from Sicily.  The small ones did fine.  The medium just never ripened.  They were fun to try but I think I won't plant again next year.
Black Vernissage-did not do great.  Will not plant next year.
-Patio Princess for the pot did very well.  I will do it again next season.
-Rosella did great.  They are the size of marbles.  I don't think I will grow again because of the small size.
Next season what I'd like to add to the garden is more meaty medium size chocolate tomato.  Typically, smaller tomatoes get started sooner than the large tomatoes.  Be nice to have some meaty tomatoes to add in to early tomatoes to see if they give the same creamy texture as the Italian Red Pear paste tomato.
Tomatoes 101, everything you need to know to grow great tomatoes

Summer Squash
The squash did well early in the season, then the zucchini died from disease.  The yellow prolific summer squash kept producing into the beginning of this month.  I liked both varieties I tried this year and will do those again next year-Early Prolific Straightneck and Cocozelle.  It is recommended you either wait until the second week of June to plant your squash or do a second round of planting in July to have healthy plants for the entire summer.  I thought I had started another zucchini but it ended up a cucumber.  Will definitely plant both varieties next year and do a second crop mid summer to keep the harvest going.
Everything you need to know to grow squash

Eggplant
I had several eggplants going this year.  The Turkish Orange did not do as well as in years past.  The flea beetles loved it.  The white and purple both did well.  The white varieties have the least bitterness, but are very hard to grow from seed.  I think I will bring the white one inside for the winter instead of trying to get a new plant started from seed next year.  Will definitely do Casper and try a pink along with the standby hardy purple.
Eggplant-add this native from India to your garden

Peppers
I have been able to freeze about a pint of sliced peppers every week.  I had 6 sweet pepper plants.  I had planted a few seeds from sweet banana peppers I bought at the store that I grew out last year.  They didn't look anything at all like a banana pepper, but they tasted great and did extremely well.  There are three that I  saved seeds for next year's garden (a yellow, a red, and a maroon).

I also grew from seed the red hot pepper from Sicily-Bocca Rossa.  It did very well.  It is always covered in peppers.  The Pablano pepper plants have done okay.  I grow those to make chili powder.
I have a small hot pepper plant that is ages old, Chiltepin.  It took 3 tries, but I was finally able to get it to grow.  I have them in a pot that I will bring in to overwinter again.  I like putting small hot peppers in my seasoned salt and wanted to grow my own.  They are covered with the tiny hot tots!  

The spicy ones I will grow again next year are the Pablanos and Chiltepin.  And definitely the sweet peppers from last year's seeds.  They did great and were very tasty and prolific.
Peppers are for every taste and garden

Cucumbers
The cucumber vines did okay.  The first set of cukes had 50% die back.  The one left produced for a couple of months.  I started another in the garden and it is still producing, but not a lot.  The plant looks healthy.  The cukes I get from this plant have a shelf life of 2 months or longer just sitting on the counter.  It is amazing.  They will also get huge.  This heirloom (Jaune Dickfleischige) produces yellowish orange skinned fruits.  I'll plant this one, a white one, and a green variety again next year.
Cucumber info and tips for growing
View between the pole beans in the edible garden

Beans and peas
The pole green beans did great this year, but have died back in the last couple of weeks.  I planted purple and green Romano types.  The beans and flowers were very pretty.  The green Romano were stringless and the purple Romano type had a small string that was easy to remove before freezing.  I will definitely keep these (Romano and the purple Blauhilde) in my garden next year.  Also interplanted with Scarlett Runner beans, too, for their beautiful flowers.  These are edible as well either as green beans or if left on the vine as storage beans.  Next year, I'll keep them separated so I know when to pick them.  

I tried three pole storage beans this year-Portal Jade, Good Mother Stollard and King of the Garden lima beans.  The Portal Jade and the Lima beans did not produce much.  Good Mother Stollard went to town!  I got quite a lot from these vines and they are still producing.  I think it is fun to have different color and sized beans in the chili I make.  I don't think I will do the storage beans again.  They don't produce nearly as much for the space as green beans.
Okra
I planted okra for the first time this year and these guys did fabulous.  I planted two varieties-Red Burgundy Okra and a green variety.  Both did very well.  I think I will stick with the Red Burgundy for future gardens.  I didn't realize how tall okra gets!  Some of these plants grew to 8+ feet tall.  They produced all summer long and are still producing and growing in height.  I think we got enough this year that I won't need any in the garden next year.  I just sliced and froze them.  I am planning on using them in soups and roasts.  They were pretty tasty just boiled in a pan of chicken broth.
Growing and harvesting okra
Our very tall okra
Garlic and onions
The garlic and onions did well this year.  The Egyptian walking onions did great!  I hardened the garlic on our covered deck.  I'll replant the best producing garlic which always includes Elephant garlic.  I like to grow the ones with large cloves that are easy to peel.  I pickle my garlic so I can use it year round.  It has been warm this fall.  I'll be planting the cloves soon for next year's harvest.
Everything to know about growing onions
Time to plant garlic! With growing tips......
Herbs
I had a bumper crop of basil this year; most were Holy Basil volunteers from last year's garden.  The other herbs did well, too.  We have rosemary, tarragon, bay, sage, parsley, chives, and mint.  I keep peppermint and orange mint in a pot so it doesn't take over the garden. The dill went to seed early.  The cilantro is sprouting again for a second round in the cool weather.  I'll get to add it to our salsa and salads now until winter.  I use tarragon in the summer after the cilantro has bolted.  It adds a different taste, but is still good.  Most of my herbs are perennials.  If the rosemary doesn't make it through the winter, I'll replant it again next year.  Right now, both rosemary plants-Tuscan Blue and Arp look great.  Not sure I'll need to plant cilantro as it comes back from seed.  I will always start basil and dill in the spring.  Can't have a garden without them.  The bay plants I will bring in for the winter.  They are not hardy in this zone but do fine overwintering in the garage.
Start a kitchen herb garden!

Greens
TheI'll keep the same recipe for greens.  I have many perennial greens and self-sowers that give greens pretty well year round.  Perennial greens-sorrel, cultivated dandelions, arugula, chard.  Perennial veggies in the Midwest garden  Self-sowers-corn salad, purslane, cilantro, mustard greens, salad burnet.  Try self-seeding veggies and flowers  I'll continue to have several types of lettuce and spinach.  The standbys are red and green romaine, Red Sails, and some type of buttercrunch.  I haven't been doing oak leaf the last couple of seasons.  I think I will add them back in next year.  They always do well.  And maybe Grand Rapids and Simpson.  The giant spinach plants did quite well.

Flowers
I always have flowers in the garden.  I started gardening with flowers.  They are pretty and bring pollinators to your edibles, increasing the harvest.  I had a ton of self-seeding zinnias that returned from last year.  Most were a fuchsia color.  Next year, I will pull more of them to space them out in the garden and plant other colors.  It took until fall for it to bloom.  Will definitely include marigolds.   The Hollyhocks I planted this season should return on their own.  I love the giant ruby red cock's comb that my dad sent me seeds for.  I'll keep them in the garden every year.  I have done alyssum in the past.  I'll look for them to add to the garden next spring.  I'm going to try to get a combo of red, white and blue vines.  Maybe red Hummingbird vine, a blue Morning Glory vine, and a white tropical vine like Moonflower.  If you want all edibles in your garden, there are many flowers that fit the bill!  Flowers that are edible  

The garden season is not over yet.  There will be much to enjoy through most of the winter. We will have arugula, mustard greens, lettuce, chard, blood veined sorrel, garden sorrel, French and Italian dandelion, spinach, lettuce, purslane, corn salad, chives, parsley, cilantro and sprouting broccoli for salads.  Eggplant, peppers and tomatoes will produce until the first freeze.  The Egyptian onions will produce all through winter.  The herbs will be available for harvesting until the snow covers them up.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

November 2017 Edible Garden Planner

Fall sunset
Saturday, October 28, 2017

November is a beautiful time of year as Mother Nature is getting prepared for the cold, wintry days ahead.  Late fall chores should include cleaning up your garden beds, reflecting on the gardening season completed, and preparing for the first freeze.

Garden bed clean up
To prepare your garden for its winter slumber, remove gardening debris from your beds.  For any diseased vegetation or seeds, be sure to throw these away and not compost.  You don't want to propagate and spread any diseases to other parts of the garden.  A really hot compost pile will kill them but it isn't work the risk going into winter. 

This is a good time to decide if you would like to make your own compost.  Compost is referred to by gardeners as “black gold.”  It provides nutrients, beneficial microbes, fertilizer and overall improves your soil’s condition.  Composting is possible in small spaces or even indoors

I have used an electric composter called NatureMill that we kept in the garage by the door.  It is easy to keep an odor free bucket made just for this purpose in the kitchen to collect fruit and vegetable scraps and empty weekly into the composter.  The small indoor buckets are called compost keepers or bins and come in a variety of decorative styles.  You get finished compost in a couple of weeks.  You can store the compost you are making in a trash bag to use when preparing your spring beds.  It is great for flowers and vegetables.

Right now, I went to an outdoor insulated composter made by Jora.  It was designed in Sweden.  It works year round but much better in the summer.  It is important to keep the greens and browns in the right ratio to keep the compost cooking in the winter.  Here are some tips if your composter/compost pile starts having issues  Troubleshooting your compost pile

After your garden clean up, look to give your garden a nutritional boost for the winter months.  Doing a nice layer of compost and fertilizer, topped with mulch, will allow the nutrients to seep into the garden soil, ready to give your spring plants a boost.  The mulch will keep the soil more temperate during the winter months for your winter edibles and keep weed seeds from sprouting. 

Reflection on the past garden season
While the past gardening season is still fresh in your mind, now is a great time to jot down some notes on what went well, what didn’t, and what you would like to research over the winter.  Make a list of the varieties that did great that you want to replant, which plants you want to be sure to have more of next year.  Also make note of how many plants make sense to plant for next year.

Keep track of what you eat over the winter to give you a good idea of what and how much to plant come spring.  How much to plant?

Fall is a fabulous time to make new garden beds.  It is super easy, too.  Just use a hose to outline your new bed, fertilizer, put down a layer of cardboard (earthworms love cardboard!), a layer of compost, and cover with mulch.  By spring, the new garden bed will be ready for planting.  Easy ways to make a new vegetable garden bed

Gardening after the first frost
For northern Kentucky, the average first frost date is mid-October.  We have gotten frost warnings in the last week or so but the temps are back up and forecasted to stay that way for the next 2 weeks.  If you can cover your veggies with a portable green house or row cover to extend the season for many cool season crops.  Frost forecasted? Here’s your to-do list  With a portable green house, we have kept lettuce, kale, mustard greens, sorrel, and celery all the way through winter.  You can garden year round in small space

If you are using pots, putting the pots on the south side and close to the house will keep them from getting frost bit.  It seems to extend the season for 2-4 weeks.

You can also divide a piece off your herbs, put them in a pot, and bring indoors on a sunny window to have fresh herbs readily available.  Chives, thyme, rosemary, savory, tarragon, salad burnet, and oregano can also be harvested into December from the outdoor garden.  Growing herbs indoors for winter

Surprisingly, we found that peppers and eggplants are great candidates from bringing in for the winter.  Our Jalapenos and Cayennes continued to fruit for weeks indoors and when put back out in the spring, had peppers a month earlier than when using new plants.  Tomatoes are also contenders for overwintering indoors.  All are tender perennials.  I bring in only the ones that did really well that I want to get a head start on next season.

Be sure to use insecticidal soap on any plants you intend to bring indoors a couple weeks prior so you don’t bring in unintended guests.  Just remember that insecticides kill the good bugs like bees as well as the bad bugs so be careful when you spray.  Natural, organic pest strategies and how to make your own bug sprays

I keep my plants out as long as possible to minimize their stay indoors.  There is nothing like sunshine and fresh air for a plant.  Last year, I overwintered all my tropicals and edibles in the unheated garage with a hanging fluorescent light fixture with daylight bulbs.  They all did well except for one eggplant.  The other eggplant did just fine.
Late November potted lettuce
For the herbs you cut back earlier in the season to dry, November is a great time to now strip the stems of the leaves, dry and put into jars for winter cooking.  You can make your own “Herbes De Provence”.  Thyme, oregano, rosemary, savory, basil, tarragon and lavender are common herbs used in this famous French seasoning.  I mix them up in about equal amounts and store in a sealed Mason jar.  It is great to add to just about anything-sauces, chicken, fish, potatoes, garlic bread.  Makes wonderful Christmas presents, too.  Make your own "Herbes de Provence".

For those that keep on going into the winter, I would prune back the plants by about two thirds and strip the leaves from the cut stems.  Do so when there are warm temps forecasted for a few days to allow the plants cut ends to heal.

Use your herbs for your Thanksgiving meal Use your own herbs for your Thanksgiving dinner  More than likely you will have some edibles still growing in the garden.  Take a look and use them in your meal.  Some winter hardy edibles include kale, cabbage, chives, sage, thyme, corn salad, sorrel, plantain greens, celery, mustards, even some hardy lettuces.