Winter is Coming! (tomorrow nite-October 10)

As they kept saying in Game of Thrones, “Winter is coming” and it is coming here tomorrow night. Low temperatures tomorrow (Wednesday) will be 24°F and Thursday night will be 27°F. I’ve been harvesting everything I can before the cold hits. Afterwards is too late.

Most of my garden is done but here are some crops that may still need harvesting. I will pick my winter squash now and put it in the house. While winter squash likes it cold, it does not like the temperatures below freezing and can be ruined if they freeze–they should last months in the house.

Pick any green tomatoes of decent size and put them 2 layers deep in paper bags. The bags will keep the tomatoes in the dark. Then put a slice of apple in the bag (it releases ethylene gas, a natural ripening agent) and close up the bag to speed up the ripening process. Check the bag several times a week and you can move them to your kitchen table once they turn color. They are never quite as good as sun-ripened tomatoes but still 200% better than store bought and you may have home grown tomatoes into November.

Harvest all other warm season crops like beans, peppers, eggplants, corn, cucumbers, summer squash and melons-if they are not already picked.

Harvest onions if you still have any.

Cool season crops like broccoli, kale, cabbage, arugula and other leafy greens may survive but will need winter weight row cover over them to protect them from the below freezing nights. Take off in the day and recover at night when freezing. You can get row cover (winter weight) at some of the local nurseries. Just call around.

Beets and carrots should be ok but should be harvested before the ground freezes rock hard in December.

If you have lettuce, I would pick it as it will freeze. You may be able to save it with row cover over it, but it is chancy.

Herbs can be cut and dried in your house.

Of course if you have a cold frame, your season could still be extended if you cover the plants inside with row cover.

So pick everything you can today and tomorrow and don’t forget to disconnect your drip systems so they don’t freeze either. Get busy!

Garden Harvest Early October

oct 8 harvest

I love this time of year. It’s like the garden’s gone wild, everything ready for harvest all at once and a sense of urgency is felt by me and the vegetables to get it done. Get it picked, get it harvested and get it preserved. It is a crazy intense time as fall is here for real and soon we will have the first 32°F night (historically the middle of October). Right now nights are in the mid 40’s but that will change soon. The mornings require a sweatshirt in the garden now.

The sunflowers have come and gone, my cucumbers are done. I spent hours picking and pickling them as I love pickles. The zucchini are gone too. The green and purple beans are mostly finished. The shishitos and poblano peppers and eggplants are done as of this week. The 25 lbs of pears and 30 lbs of apples Michelle gave me are already dried into chips. The corn tassels are drying and soon I will see if my experiment of planting all pink kernels of Glass Gem corn will turn out pink ears or still be multi-colored. Either way is fine. The tomatoes are definitely fading, preferring much warmer nights and their size and harvest is getting smaller. I’m making tomato soup, tomato tapenade and tomato sauce like crazy-so far 18 gallon freezer bags of raw sauce in each that I will later make pasta sauces with (once the garden is done). Today was my last day at the Farmer’s Market as the Tomato Lady for this year as I will not get enough tomatoes again.

But the potatoes still need digging, the herbs need trimming and drying, Jimmy Nardello peppers are still kicking and need picking, the beets and carrots I planted in early spring are ready for harvest and the chard and different kales I planted in late July are loving the cooler weather now and will endure until we have really cold weather. Crazy busy around here.