April roars in-cold ‘n windy

The time between spring and summer where one day it’s gorgeous and the next day/night too cold is called the shoulder season-one day winter and the next day summer. This April has been miserable so far in my opinion. We’ve had a few nice days with warmer weather and just when we get excited about putting in this season’s vegetable garden, the weather turns for the worst. I got lots of veggies to plant out this year and some to sell/give away.

wind

Windy and cold. COLD AND WINDY!! Tonite, Thursday, April 15– Monday, April 27, every night is BELOW freezing-that’s 5 days! What happen to our 40 degree nights and 65+ degree day temperatures. Plus gale force wind is  between 25-40 mph-day and night! Waah!  And looking further out, it remains in the low 30’s until Saturday, April 24. That’s 9 days of miserable weather all together.

Of course all this will change (probably overnight) to hot and dry weather and I will regret all of this when it gets hot in June. Where is the precipitation in the form of rain or snow? I’ll take any that nature has to offer. She seems very stingy right now. Does it seem like things are out of control? Definitely. Or at least I can’t control them! That is the plight of the vegetable gardener-we have to deal with the unexpected and make adjustments.

This means many things get put on hold. Like attaching the drip timers.  Freezing nights can crack the little diaphragms that are in the timers so I have to wait to put them out till the night time temps get above freezing.

Hardening new veggies off outside will have to wait a little longer. Meanwhile they will be safe indoors.

Planting my cool season crops out right now? Nope. Sure they can handle some cold nights, but do I really want to push them out to a cruel and harsh world after being cozy inside all spring growing up? Nah. I can wait a little longer, but my patience is growing short and yet I know if I push too hard, I will regret it with stunted plants or worse frozen ones and starting over. I will try to put them out next week.

And warm season crops like tomatoes, eggplants and peppers-forget about em right now. They are set to be transplant outside from mid-May to June. The last 2 years I was able to sneak out the tomatoes with wall of waters protection in early May, so we will see what this May brings.

When I do put in those first cool-season crops like kale, beets, chard, spinach I will cover them with row cover at night to give them a chance. If I had gotten them out earlier in the warm spell, they probably would have adjusted just fine but I missed that window. So now I wait. Patience.

 

I already have cool season lettuces growing in the greenhouse and cold-frame and they are doing well and are fully adjusted to the temps because they have protection from the wind and the cold plus I will cover them with row cover on the below freezing nites. I’m not worried about them.

Meanwhile I have a house full of plants, waiting to go out. Patience. I’ve been patient all year with CV but the good news is, I’m still here!

 

All the bees died

We found the bees dead on the bottom of the hive.

Beekeeping in Santa Fe area can be tough

The bees died in our second hive this winter which we discovered a couple of weeks ago. They left 8 bars of honey so it wasn’t from lack of food-they originally had 16 bars. I think they didn’t have enough bees in their colony going into winter to keep them warm but not really sure why they died-just a guess. No Varroa mites. No obvious signs of problems.

Our first hive which did so well last summer got robbed out of honey by other bees when their numbers went down from wanting to swarm so much. We ended up splitting that hive 3 times. We could of let them swarm (which any good beekeeper would try to discourage them from doing) so we split the hive to keep them from swarming. Bees want to swarm when they are feeling good-when the number of bees inside the hive are growing and they need more room. Kinda like outgrowing your apartment. This is a normal thing to do. Bees wanna swarm-Beekeepers split the hive. You don’t want half your hive going off and settling under someone’s portal. If we hadn’t split them, they would swarm anyways and then you lose all the bees in the swarm.

Honey saved from bees-33 jars but we already gave away several jars in case you count!

When we discovered they died and left all this honey, we filtered it and jarred it-33 jars! It is so sad for me when I see all those jars of honey when they worked so hard to make it. But it won’t go to waste. I don’t think we have harvested honey in about 4 years. You have to leave enough honey for them every year to get through winters here and it has been slim pickens with not that many blossoms because of all these droughts. Still, they did produce a good amount of honey.

Here is a little Honeybee facts-more with some interesting info on honeybees. Did you know that a single bee produces 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in it’s lifetime! That’s all. This should make you appreciate the bees the next time you use honey in your tea or on your toast.

Yesterday I ordered more bees for this season. They seem to live 2-3 years here, so we will start over with them again. Northern NM is such a 😒 hard place to raise bees!

Winter snow! February 16-18

Last week we got 7-8 inches the first day and more in the following 2 days that measured 12 inches total. This was great moisture for all our trees and perennial plants that so desperately need moisture in our dry winter. Plus it gave me time off from hand watering. I water in the winter about one time a month with a hose to keep plants/trees going thru the winter or if we are lucky enough to get snow, I get some time off! 12 inches of snow equals about 1″ of moisture.

Above is a winter veggie garden tour taken about a week ago. The garden is sleeping now except for the perennial fruit such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, grapes, and rhubarb, which still need some water through the winter. Plus I can’t forget the fruit trees! I just had to get these pics on the blog of our winter snow we had last week!

 

2020 garden gratitude

gratitude photo_courtesy-of-markromeromusic.jpg

I want to say Happy Holidays to you all and hope this New Year finds you and your family safe and healthy.

I don’t know about you, but I am ready for 2021 and excited about the new year. Hopefully we can all come together as one nation, one world, instead of being divided and polarized. It is important to treat people with respect, hear them and work together with each other.

In times like these, I need to focus on what I am grateful for. It is easy to get bogged down in all the negativity we’ve had this year and there has been a lot. But the blessings have been great too-especially in the garden. I have many things to be grateful for but will focus on garden gratitude for this post. Hey, I’m still here right? Now that’s a huge blessing and my family has been ok too-another bonus.

My garden did really well this year and for that I am immensely grateful as it kept me busy and at a more relaxed pace since I wasn’t going anywhere. Time to actually enjoy being there.

VEGETABLES

I canned about 39 jars of pickles this year-15 Cornichons, 8 pickle relish and 16 bread n butter pickles. Many of which I now have given away.

As  I mentioned in the last post, I canned 251 lbs of tomatoes into 52 jars of different pasta sauces which was exhausting but I’m really happy to have it in the pantry and have enough to give lots away as well.

Besides all that tomato canning, I had lots of tomatoes that I roasted, and of course ate many lbs fresh as well and sold some too. So grateful I had a bountiful tomato harvest this year compared to last year’s dismal harvest.

So grateful the canning is done for the year!

I grew 6 BIG Kalibos Red cabbage- I gave away 5 and only kept one for myself since they averaged 6-7 lbs each.

I had unbelievable amounts of kale and chard. Sold some, ate lots and blanched lots in 2-3 cups increments that I froze in freezer bags which is nice to drag out of the freezer and throw in a dish or soup all winter as needed.

I had many Waltham butternut squash that I grew for Claufatis Cafe here in town for their infamous butternut soup which is so good I could drink it or lick the bowl (or both)! Don’t remember how many lbs, but it was a lot!

Plus I had lots of my new Lava Red peppers that were super prolific. I had wanted to grow Jimmy Nardello peppers but my seeds didn’t germinate and the nurseries didn’t have any plants, so I grew this long red Corno di Toro type that I got seeds from my friend Lava, in Germany. Since she didn’t know which variety of pepper this was, I just call it Lava Red pepper. Seems fitting with her name! My new favorite red pepper!  See, sometimes when I am forced to grow something else because of the seed and plant shortage this past spring, I ended up with something new and exciting! Plus a friend did give me some Jimmies he grew as well.

Plus I got many carrots, beets, lettuces, spinach, summer squash, garlic and shallots.

FRUITS
Some fruits were great and some not as good this year.

The apple trees did produce a lot but dropped most of them-I suspect due to the drought. But Koko the horse and the goatie things in the barn were grateful and loved all of them!

The apricot tree really shined as a shade tree but did not produce this year which is nothing new. But hey, I’m grateful for any tree that can grow here-we have more droughts here in the past few years than I can remember. My new pear, peach and plum tree are too new to produce but I can dream about how it will be in the future.

The strawberries had a decent harvest but I will need to thin them next year to produce more.

But the real stars were the grapes and blackberries-grateful for a wonderful harvest this year.

One of the best thing is I was able to keep up on the harvest for everything this year.

And then there were the raspberries… Unbelievable harvest this year. So much so, that again I invited some friends to come pick as my freezer was full. 19 gallon bags of raspberries in the freezer.

It’s good to be grateful and reflective at the beginning of the new year before I get headless in the garden again!

251 pounds of tomatoes!

Well I figured out that I canned 251 lbs of tomatoes this year. I made 52 jars of different pasta sauces (Puttanesca, Penne alla Vodka, Fantastico spaghetti sauce and Fruiti di Mare sauce. Each one has it’s own unique flavors. Plus I made plain old tomato sauce and Texas BBQ sauce.  I’m well stocked for the year and gave many jars away to friends. Truly a labor of love!

Tomatoes seeds germinating inside the tomato!

Here’s something you don’t see everyday. Two different people have contacted me about a tomato they each had that was sprouting seeds INSIDE the tomato. Both people said the tomatoes were older. When they cut into their tomatoes, they found tomato seeds prematurely sprouting inside. I haven’t seen that before and had to research it out.

It’s called Vivipary which means ‘live birth’.  It is the phenomenon that involves seeds germinating prematurely while they are still inside the fruit, in this case tomatoes. It most often happens when the fruit is old. Normally the gel around the tomato seeds prevents the seed from germinating inside but it’s not limited to just tomatoes.

Read more at Gardening Know How: What Is Vivipary – Reasons For Seeds Germinating Prematurely https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/propagation/seeds/what-is-vivipary.htm

The Importance of Seed Saving

I’ve saved seeds from some of my favorite heirloom or open-pollinated (OP) vegetables especially during covid-19. But I wish now that I had saved more. Next year we might have another seed shortage as we’ve had in 2020. When I went online this week to one of the major seed companies, I already saw ‘out of stock’ on some varieties. Is it because the seed companies just haven’t gotten the seeds in stock or they had some crop failures or maybe their farmers couldn’t get enough help to save seeds due to CV? Are they are coming out late? Who knows. No matter, as I found it alarming that seed companies who would normally have their new seeds by now are ‘out of stock’ on some seeds-not all, but some.

Now that the season is over, and I’ve cleaned out my garden and the last tomatoes are gone (I did save some tomato seeds), I thought are there any more vegetables I still have from the garden where I can still save some of the seeds so late?

 

The answer for me was yes. I found some Jimmy Nardello peppers that I grew that were stuck in the back of the refrigerator. My seed stock didn’t germinate last year as it was too old. The nurseries were sold out too. I was lucky that a friend had some extras and gave me some. So, in case I couldn’t buy seeds for next year, I took a couple of those Jimmy peppers, cut them open, and saved the seeds. Pepper seeds are easy to save. You just have to take the seeds out and dry them for a few weeks on a paper towel or wax paper till they are really dry-you don’t have to do anything special to save them except keep them from blowing away. Then store in plastic baggie, envelope or some other container.

 

Beans are another easy crop to save. I’ve saved both green and dry bean varieties. What’s the difference when saving those two? Nothing! I still have to wait til they dry in the pod before taking the seeds. I have some Di Casalbuono Panzariedd dry beans that I shelled (see picture above) and now they are in glass jars, just waiting to go into that Instapot this winter.

I also have one Waltham butternut winter squash left. I can save the seeds from it once I cut into it. They are a little more messy as you have to remove the stringy stuff and the seeds are a bit slimy but I will wash the seed slime off and then let them dry out on wax paper before storing.

So besides saving seeds from some vegetables you grew (that you liked), I feel it’s important for us to save seeds for future growers and to continue vegetable varieties. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover a new variation of a variety. If the world ran out of seeds, we’d all get hungry pretty quick.

I also noticed that the price of many seeds seem to be higher this year in the seed catalogues which is another good reason to save your own seeds.

Remember to only save heirloom or open-polinated vegetables as hybrids will not grow out true to the same variety. Could you grow a hybrid seed? Of course, but you just wouldn’t know what it might turn out to be.

I know it might be too late for many of you this year but start to think about saving seeds in the future. This CV, if nothing else, shows us we can’t take much for granted. Save seeds-save money.

 

2020 tomato review-the ‘darlings’ of the veggie garden

2020 Tomato Review

As the Tomato Lady of Santa Fe, this year was a great tomato year in the garden especially compared to last year’s tomatoes which were dismal. This year I started with 38 plants, lost 2 right away to curly top virus and lost several more to a soil fungal disease but overall the disease level was very low due to it being such a dry year.  I think I had good production because I started them super early this year-May 6, which is the earliest I’ve ever put them in the ground and I gave them the water they needed.

Here are the tomato varieties I grew this year. If you haven’t even heard of some of these, I encourage you to try some new varieties for yourself-keeps it interesting!  Some of you may have had a great year with some of these varieties, so use your own experience when selecting which varieties to grow. All varieties are heirlooms or open pollinated unless otherwise noted.

Moby Dwarf cherry tomato trial project-This is a wonderful larger yellow cherry tomato. Wonderfully intense flavor. I was involved 2 years ago growing this out for Craig Lehouiller, author of Epic Tomatoes. I found some of the plants I grew had a anthocyanin blush (purple blush) on its shoulders so I’m continuing to see if we can get this trait to stabilize for future generations. The plant is only 4 feet tall, very prolific and would be great in large pots as well in the ground as I do. You can get the original seeds now online at Victory Seeds. A must try.  63 days to harvest. YES will grow this next year.

Black Cherry-I only grew one plant but boy was it prolific! This is one of my favorites that I grow every year. No disease. Very dependable. Purplish color. Great intense full bodied flavor like a good wine. 64 days to harvest. YES will grow this next year.

Virginia Sweets-A yellow tomato with red blush inside that is sweet, sweet, sweet. This year they did well although in some years not as good. But I always come back to them because when they do well, they are great! 80 days to harvest. YES will grow this next year.

Lucky Cross-One of my all-time favorites. This year the mice seem to really like them so I didn’t get as many as I would have liked. Great sweet flavor. Yellowish peachy color with marbled red interior. Wish I had more plants since I was sharing with the mice! 74 days to harvest. YES will grow this next year.

Ananas Noire-One of my favorites. Don’t be put off by the colors-green with a red blush but the flavor is sweet like nectar. Takes all season to get them but worth the wait. 85 days to harvest. YES will grow this next year.

Large Barred Boar-NEW THIS YEAR! A wonderful tomato from Wild Boar Farms that is slighter larger than Black and Brown Boar which it came from and is a mid-season ripener. It is a med-large mahogany color with green stripes tomato. Great flavor and only 65 days to harvest. YES will grow this next year.

Black and Brown Boar-I’ve always loved this oval shaped tomato from Wild Boar Farms because it has super flavor and is a good producer. Mahogany with green stripes. 68 days to harvest. YES will grow this next year.

Cherokee Lemon-NEW THIS YEAR! This is a new Cherokee variety for me. Its color is a pure yellow with yellow flesh inside and has good sweetness. It was not very prolific though, so I will see if it makes it into next year’s roster but I usually give a new tomato two years to try. 75 days to harvest. MAYBE will grow this next year.

Cherokee Purple-I come back to this tomato every year. A great producer with outstanding flavor.  Purple with green shoulders. 75 days to harvest. YES will grow this next year.

Cherokee Green-A green tomato that turns a yellowish-green that is green throughout with suburb sweet flavor but was not as prolific as last year. 75 days to harvest. MAYBE will grow this next year.

Cherokee Carbon-I adore this hybrid. A cross between a Cherokee Purple and Carbon. Great flavor like Cherokee Purple but bigger and less cracks. Purple with green shoulders/ Great producer too. 75 days to harvest. YES will grow this next year.

Pink Berkley Tie Dye-Usually this is a good producer with great flavor but this year it was a disappointment for me as it did not produce many tomatoes. 65 days to harvest. NO will NOT grow this next year.

Captain Lucky-NEW THIS YEAR! I liked this mostly green with red blush tomato. All around good flavor. 75 days to harvest. YES will grow this next year.

Goliath-One of a few hybrids that I grow every year. Great old fashioned tomato flavor and it rarely gets cracks or blemishes. A good producer. 65 days to harvest. YES will grow this next year.

Pantano Romanesco-This year I was disappointed in this tomato when normally I like it. Good old fashion flavor but not very prolific. 75 days to harvest. NO will NOT grow this next year.

Mushroom Basket-NEW THIS YEAR! I’m kinda so-so about this one. Great big shape with many flutes but ripened unevenly for many of them. Also not a good producer. 75 days to harvest. NO will NOT grow this next year.

Paul Robeson-Another of my all time favorites-this ‘black tomato’ has a rich flavor that wins many tomato contests every year. 75 days to harvest. YES will grow this next year.

BKX-NEW THIS YEAR! An improved version of the Black Krim tomato that did not produce very well. For me the original Black Krim is never a good producer and this one is about the same. If I’m going to grow a tomato it has to be a good producer. 80 days to harvest. NO will NOT grow this next year.

Purple Calabash-NEW THIS YEAR! This is an heirloom from Thomas Jefferson’s garden so I was excite to try it. Sorry to say, I wasn’t impressed. They were small fluted purplish tomatoes with lots of catfacing flaws on bottom. Nice flavor though. 75 days to harvest. NO will NOT grow this next year.

Big Zac-Another good hybrid that can grow some colossal sized red tomatoes with old fashioned tomato flavor. One slice will fill a BLT sandwich. 80 days to harvest. YES will grow this next year.

Goldman’s Italian American-the only paste tomato I grow. It has the best flavor of any paste tomato I’ve ever tried. Makes wonderful pasta sauces. 85 days to harvest. YES will grow this next year.

 

 

 

Growing and preserving cabbage

As I’ve written before I’ve grown a cabbage that I really like called Kalibos. It is a beautiful red cone shaped cabbage that takes pretty much all season to grow. It is very tasty and sweet. The good news is that it doesn’t bolt in the summer and is ready to harvest in the fall. I think I planted it in early May.

What I didn’t know is if you harvest it a little higher on the stalk, instead cutting it level with the ground, it will produce a bunch of baby cabbages on its offshoots. Now I have a few more baby cabbages to use. I harvested them of course before the big snow storm that came in.

 

Preserving cabbage

Two ways to preserve cabbage is by either refrigerating it or freezing. If you want to put it fresh in salads like coleslaw, then keep some of it in your refrigerator in a zip lock bag. If the cut edge looks a little dry, just trim it off If before use. I had my cabbage last from October to February last year.

If you are not sure how you will use your cabbage or have too much to use at one time, you can preserve some of it in the freezer.  To do that, quarter it, blanch it for 3 minutes in boiling water and immediately cool it in ice water to stop the cooking.  Then put it freezer bags and freeze the wedges. That way you can cut it into whatever size you need later. Blanching vegetables will stops the enzyme action which can cause loss of color and flavor. Or you can rough chop it and if you use this method, you’ll need to blanch it for 1.5 minutes instead of 3 minutes. Then cool it and put it freezer bags.

You can also preserve it by making sauerkraut, or kimchi or use other fermentation recipes as well. For a great sauerkraut recipe go to: http://funfermenting.com/veggie-sauerkraut/

First major winter storm-October 26

November garden tour video above-The storm came at the end of October but I didn’t take any videos of the garden in October so I’m calling it the November garden tour

We got 10 inches of snow here on Monday October 26 and then another 2 inches on Tuesday for a total of 12 inches. Twelve inches of snow equals one inch of rain which we desperately needed for out native and perennial trees and plants. The temperature fell to 18°F that night, which of course did in the veggie garden and I’m ok with that. I’m glad it was such a great garden but it’s time it went to asleep.

 

 

Winter is coming on Monday!

Weather forecast as of October 22, 2020

Just wanted to let everyone know that ‘Winter Is Coming’ for real starting next Monday. Lows in the 20’s at night and 40’s for the daytime temperatures Monday-Thursday. If you haven’t  finished harvesting your garden, better get on it because our gardens will be done by Monday night.

Also you should pick any winter squash because although it would be ok in a light frost, it will get ruined with a hard frost like we are going to get.

It’s very iffy if broccoli, cabbage, kale, chard will withstand the cold nites even with row cover. I will pick all of them for sure.

Now where to put everything?!!

 

Saving Green Tomatoes

Now is the time to finish picking your ripe and green tomatoes as next week it will be in the 20s at night. If you wait till after a hard freeze, it will be too late.

How to save green tomatoes

If you have an abundance of green tomatoes on the vine, you still can bring them inside your house to finishing ripening them (not in a cold garage). Here’s how I do it although there are many ways to save them, I find using paper bags from the grocery store (yes that’s why you’ve been saving all those bags!) works really well.

How to pick tomatoes that will ripen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First you can tell which green tomatoes will probably ripen fully by looking at them. If you see the green is getting lighter on the sides, it will probably ripen as it has started the ripening process. Some have very dark tops and that is ok as long as the sides are a lighter shade of green. Also I just pick the bigger tomatoes as they are usually further along in the growing process versus the small totally dark immature tomatoes.

 

Use paper bags to ripen them

Place 2-3 layers of rock hard green tomatoes in bags as shown above-no more  that a couple of layers because as they ripen, you don’t want the ones ripening underneath to get crushed. Also discard any that have blemishes.

 

Place tomatoes that are just starting to get color in another bag and move the ones that are starting to color up from the ‘green’ bag. Look into your ‘green’ tomato bag every few days and move them to the ‘just starting to color’ bags.

Important tip: Put a slice or two of apple (any color) in each bag. The apple slice will release ethylene gas which is a natural ripening hormone that is in many fruits. It will speed up the ripening process of your tomatoes in your paper bags. Replace apple slices as needed. It really works!

Close up all the bags so the apple does it’s work and none of the gas is released. I fold the paper bags over several times and then I put either something on top of the bags to keep them closed or I shove them under a rack to help keep them closed as shown above.

The trick is you must inspect the bags every few days and move them to another bag as necessary. If you just put them in the bag and forget about them, you might wind up with a bunch of the ripen ones squished with the heavier unripened ones on top.

Once they have changed color but still hard, you should take them out of the bag and put them on the counter to finish ripening. Never put a ripe tomato in the refrigerator. A cold refrigerator dampens the taste.

This method is really good on extending the tomato season once the weather is too cold. They will never be quite as good as the sun-ripened ones but are still about 200% better than store bought ones. I use a lot of them that get a little too soft for pasta sauces and eat the rest.

PS: Not all the green tomatoes will ripen but many will.

October Veggie Garden Update

 

Here’s the latest update in my garden as of Sunday October 18th. The season is winding down fast now, and so am I. The pics above are what we harvested today.

Some warm season crops like cucumbers, summer squash, green beans, dry beans, butternut winter squash and corn are finished. Today’s harvest of the warm season crops like tomatoes and peppers were picked, including some green tomatoes which I will ripen indoors. I got a couple of butternut squash and cucumbers too. I turned off the drip systems to all of them today.

The perennial fruit crops-strawberries, grapes, rhubarb and blackberries are also done. But the raspberries, which are a fall crop are still giving up some berries but are slowing way down now too. I will leave the drip systems on the perennials till it freezes.

Other cool season crops in the garden are still shining, loving the cooler weather we have right now. These include cabbage, chard, another winter squash (sweetmeat) and kale are still in the main garden and ready to harvest. I’ve been harvesting the kale, cabbage and chard for a long time.

I am harvesting broccoli heads, warm season lettuces and radishes that I planted as succession crops in August in my garlic bed which has been vacant since July. I figured I would have enough time to harvest them before I plant a new garlic crop back in it. The garlic heads are coming this week and I will plant them by the end of October in that bed once the other veggies are harvested.

But the season doesn’t end yet. I currently have some cool season crops that I started inside under lights like lettuces, spinach, arugula and Pak Choi. They will go into my cold frame and greenhouse this week but not in the main garden. I’ve actually been waiting till both the greenhouse and cold frame are cool enough in the day to put them in so they don’t bolt and this week with the daytime temperatures in the 70’s and the nighttime temperatures in the 40s is now perfect to put them out. They should last till December using row cover when the temperatures drop to freezing at night to extend their lives. It will be nice to get greens and lettuce from the garden in November. My last hurrah!

 

Year of the rat

This year I have had a rodent problem in the garden, two years ago it was an ant problem. Now the ants are under control but the mice and packrats are out of control even though I continue to trap them and I’ve gotten a lot of them. I’ve never had a problem like this before in my veggie garden but luckily I have had a super productive year.

Actually next year, 2021, is officially ‘The Year of the Rat’ in the Chinese Zodiac but it might as well be this year. The mice and rats have been eating holes in many of the veggies.

Rat damage on a Cherokee green tomato

Tomatoes-My tomatoes have been hit hard but thankfully I have lots of them. I think rats are destroying some of my tomatoes and on other tomatoes there are little bites so I think they are mice-either way I can’t sell them. I’d be thinking, “I will wait one more day to harvest some particular tomato”, and then the mice/rat gets it first so I’ve had to resort to taking them a few days early and let the tomatoes finish ripening inside the house. I have too many tomato plants to completely wrap each plant to keep them out. Very frustrating.

 

 

 

Pepper damage

Peppers- I have to cut out part of the peppers that has been eaten too. They eat a hole at the top of the pepper and get the seeds. They don’t seem to care if the peppers are still green or red. So I’ve resorted to tacking down the pepper bed with some hail netting and using 2″ x 4″ boards to keep the netting snug at the bottom on the ground so they can’t get under it. So far so good.

 

 

 

Butternut squash-Then there are the butternut winter squash. They are almost ready to harvest. I’m waiting for the skins to get that beautiful butterscotch color. Well some mouse has been attacking them too. They nibble small holes in some of them. So I’ve resorted to completely wrapping each butternut squash in pieces of row cover to keep them from getting them.

 

I have not been able to plant any lettuces in my lettuce shade garden this season either. They first ate all my Fava beans last spring and so I have had to forgo growing lettuces in that area. Instead I’m going to plant the lettuce that I’ve started this fall into my covered coldframe up by the house. In a few more weeks I’ll also plant lettuce in my greenhouse (it’s still to warm inside the greenhouse to put them there but I am ready when it cools down more).

So it looks like either trapping them or wrapping your plant up tight to keep them out works. I would never use poison as we have a cat that also hunts them and our neighbor’s dog too. They could die from eating a poisoned rodent. Plus birds of prey like hawks would die also.

I have heard from other gardeners in this area that they too have had rodent problems this year. How about you? Have you had problems with rodents in your veggie garden this year?

Snow!

Here’s the garden this morning at 7 am. I wasn’t expecting snow but here it is! The row cover blew off the tomatoes in those 60+mph winds last nite but they are so big and dense, I think if I did sustain some freezing damage, it will only be on the edges-the interior tomatoes should be ok.

Some flowers, rhubarb got bit pretty hard but the row covers stayed on the squashes, beans and RASPBERRIES and they seem ok! The snow melted pretty quick as it wasn’t much but it did stay cold all day. Tonight is our first fire in the fireplace. The temperature last night broke a record for earliest freeze in Santa Fe! Hope it warms up by the weekend and we get an Indian summer until mid-October. Am I dreaming?!