November is a golden month. The low sunlight, the beautiful burnished leaves and the shining orange of nasturtiums and pumpkins. I suggest you bask in the glow of these warm colours and catch the rays of sun while you can. The clocks have changed now and evenings darken early. The slide into winter begins in earnest this month, so wrap up warm and enjoy the seasonal shifts. There is such varied beauty to be found in all the seasons.

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November sunlight in my garden

Go on a nature walk – Puddle hunt

If you follow my Instagram @emilymuddyboots, you’ve no doubt seen that I love a ‘puddle-selfie’ I love observing the reflections in puddles and the varied textures of the ground. Looking at the world in a different way can provide you with a deeper connection to the earth and renewed sense of wonder. Or maybe you just enjoy splashing in a puddle! It doesn’t have to be meaningful, it can just be fun! Kids of all ages (and puppies) can not resist the temptation of a good puddle.

I suggest that on the next rainy day, you wrap up in wellies and waterproofs and head out on a puddle hunt. Find a big puddle and play! Walk, splash, jump, dance, kick and find your child-like wonder.

You can add to the fun by taking along some simple water-play tools. Anything to collect, scoop, pour or bash water with is always a winner for kids of all ages.

I’d love to see your own ‘puddle-selfie’ too, so take along your camera.

Try a forest school activity – Finding and sorting leaves

November is a great month to look for beautiful leaves. I’m amazed every year at just how beautiful the trees look sporting their Autumn colours.

In the Autumn, changes in the length of daylight hours and lower temperatures provokes the leaves into stopping their food-making process. The chlorophyll breaks down, the green color disappears, and the yellow, orange and red colors become visible. The combination of sunny days and cold nights makes for a fabulous display.

A simple activity I often do with my own kids is to set them a ‘leaf challenge’ on a walk.

Here are ten ideas that you may like to try.

  1. Find the biggest leaf
  2. Find the prettiest leaf
  3. Find the leaf with the most colours in it
  4. Find 10 red/orange/brown/green/yellow leaves
  5. Make a rainbow of leaves
  6. Find leaves from 10 different trees, take them home and identify them
  7. Find a spotty/stripy/patterned leaf
  8. Find your favourite leaf
  9. Find the most unusual leaf
  10. Find a leaf that remind you of a face/boat/house/animal
Some special leaves that we found on a recent walk.

Get creative – Make a simple bird feeder.

This is a lovely activity for little hands to help them develop fine motor skills. These bird feeders will attact birds into your garden and encourage your children to care for and watch them.

How to make an apple bird-feeder.

  1. Collect windfall apples from your garden or on a walk
  2. For this activity you will also need a stick, some wool, an apple corer and some sunflower seeds (the type in their shells works best)
  3. Help your child to core the apple by pushing the corer through carefully.
  4. Push a double lenght of wool through this hole, use a stick to help if it gets stuck.
  5. Loop the wool around your stick to provide a perch for the bird to rest on at the base of the apple. You may need to tie a knot here. Leave a long lenght of wool at the top of the apple and create a loop here to tie the apple onto your tree to hang it up.
  6. Stick sunflower seeds all over the apple as shown in the photo.
  7. Hang up your bird feeder somewhere you can see if from the house and keep an eye out for visiting birds!
The finished bird feeder

Gardening activity – Plant bulbs for spring colour

In 2018 the Muddy Boots allotment project was awarded a prize from the local ‘Britain in bloom’ project. This was for our work with families with young children at our beautiful allotment plot.

Since then, we have received donated spring bulbs annually from Oadby and Wigston committee of the project. We are very grateful for these beautiful daffodils to brighten up the allotment plot each spring. I’d normally be busy planting hundreds of bulbs with the allotment kids and parents at this time of year, but as we are not currently running, I’ve been finding other ways to plant them.

I decided to try planting bulbs in buckets this year. I can plant these up at home and have a fully portable spring display, suitable for whatever life throws at us next spring!

Bulb planting at the allotment a few years ago.

How to plant bulbs in buckets.

  1. If using buckets, you first need to add holes for drainage, this is easily done by using a large drill-bit and drilling lots of holes in the bottom.
  2. I added stones at the bottom of each bucket, again to help with drainage, then a layer of compost.
  3. Then add your first few bulbs and cover with compost.
  4. I like to pack lots of bulbs into my buckets, so I add at least two layers of bulbs and compost.
  5. You could mix the types and sizes of bulbs you add, so that you get a longer lasting display as the bulbs flower at different times. If you want to learn more about this technique, then gardener Sarah Raven explains how to make a ‘bulb lasagna’ or layered bulb pot in this article.
  6. Finally top up with compost, water well and leave in a sunny frost free place. Keep an eye on them over winter, ensuring they don’t get too dry or waterlogged. Look out for the first daffodils peeping through in February and flowering around March.
Planting up my bulb buckets for a portable spring display.

A permaculture principle for November- Apply self regulation and accept feedback.

This principle deals with the self-regulatory aspects of permaculture that limit or discourage inappropriate actions and behaviours… we accept limits to our consumption so that we do not take more than the earth is able to provide.

Permaculture association https://www.permaculture.org.uk/principles/

In December last year I hosted a women’s group. One of our activities was a walk to the river where we considered and vocalised our hopes for 2020. We sent these hopes off down the river into the future.

I hoped for the courage and confidence to believe in myself more deeply and not rely so heavily on planning everything to the nth degree. I wanted to trust in my skills and knowledge and sometimes feel brave enough to wing it.

Little did I know what 2020 had in store. 2020 has taught me time and time again that all we have is winging it. All my best laid plans turned to ash and my careful intentions were abandoned due to the global pandemic. It was a painful lesson to learn and I’m still processing the changes this has brought to my working life. What I do have now is freedom. Freedom to walk any path that I choose.

I am accepting self regulation and the loud demands of my body to rest and recover from the stresses of this year. I am accepting feedback that my hopes and dreams are flexible. What I want and need from my life shifts constantly. It is hard to pin down. It is hard to find the correct next step to take. So I’m not currently taking steps. I’m standing still, observing, accepting and I will make a move when the time in right. I’m winging it.

I got what a wished for. My wish took a form that I never could have predicted and never would have chosen. So be careful what you wish for. You just may get it.