It's been crazy busy around here now that I'm teaching sewing (only for two more weeks though) and we have been doing our kitchen remodel (almost done, just one more big project to do), so I've been behind again on our garden updates as well as preserving our garden.
|Garden A; Oct 10 2013 our purple podded beans half dead but still producing until our freeze|
We had our first freeze yesterday and our first frost probably a few days ago. It's been well above average temp most days this whole fall so we luckily had a later first frost than average (our first known frost is Sept 15). I did not cover any of our plants this year like I have in the past. I've concluded it's a big pain in the but and not worth it unless a frost or freeze comes very early in the season.
|Garden A: Oct 10 2013 cucumbers starting to die and tomatoes|
Harvesting Before Our First Freeze
This time I decided to only harvest our tomatoes with a little colour and a basket of our best green tomatoes rather than harvesting every single tomato before the freeze. I also did not harvest any tomatoes with major blemishes since they won't last until they ripen. Every year that we have been gardening I have massive amounts of tomatoes harvested before the first freeze/frost with the hopes of them ripening. The problem is I always have so many that one goes bad and spreads to all the rest. I usually end up eating none of the tomatoes, and just end up with a big mess, and have tomatoes all over our house for nothing. So this year I kept it simple harvested only the best and what we can use soon and keep an eye on more easily. I plan to eat the green tomatoes this year also rather than waiting for it to ripen. Look for a fried green tomato recipe to come soon!
Is There Such A Thing As Too Good Of A Harvest?
In the spring when planning and planting your garden it's clear that your intent is to have your plants be as productive as possible. I also am excited about how much fresh produce we will have soon (or hopeful at least). But it's easy when planning this to forget how much hard work it is to harvest and preserve everything. It's also easy to forget when everything will need to be harvested and preserved. This year I forgot just how much I had going on in late summer early fall right when our tomatoes are at there height. Instead of planting less tomatoes for this reason, I planted more than we ever have before 41 plants in all (5 cherry, 6 Roma, 12 early girl WI, 12 Big boy, and 6 better boy).
|Garden B Oct 10 2013 Look at all the tomatoes we lost!|
Preserving our Tomatoes
I usually dehydrate tomatoes that are small harvest and then start to make sauce when we have huge harvest. I now officially hate making sauce from scratch! At first it was fun. We made some pasta and sauce from scratch and my husband and I both agreed it was the best pasta we had ever ate even better than fancy Italian restaurants. It was cool to know not only had we made it from scratch but we grew the tomatoes too! But this year it was one never ending chore that I did not want to do. My heart wasn't into making good sauce so the taste was just ok. I decided I'd rather make just a few batches of really good sauce the whole season rather than mediocre sauce every week (which means I'm either harvesting or making sauce almost every day). And instead dehydrate tomatoes more often, because it's a lot less work. I realized if I grew almost only Roma tomatoes and less of it I could dehydrate instead with ease. Why Romas? Well since they have less water they dehydrate faster and are easier and less messy to slice which is the hard part of dehydrating. Next year we plan to plant only Romas (24) and cherry tomatoes (6).
Our Tomato Graveyard and Our Garden Thief
As you can see in the picture above we ended up with pounds (my guess would be 20 or so lbs) of rotten tomatoes that we just let fall to the ground. This was because we just had more tomatoes than I could keep up with harvesting since we had a lot going on. I am hoping many will self seed next year.
I learned this season that neglecting your garden by not harvesting can have unexpected consequences. While harvesting our tomatoes a few weeks ago I had a strange man I did not know parked in a truck across our street and a few houses down yelling at me if he could have some tomatoes. I gave him a strange look and did not respond because I thought this was personally a really rude way to ask a stranger for something. I mean he could have at least walked over introduced himself complimented me on my garden and then asked me for a tomato. He then drove his truck to the end of the block (away from our house) and parked for about 5 min before continuing to drive away. My gut said that he was probably writing down my address. Why would he do that? That kind of freaked me out. I was worried he might have been mad that I didn't respond to him and was planning to come back for retribution or something.
Turns out he did write down my address, only not for the reason I suspected. I believe he wrote it down and told his wife and daughter to visit our house and ask us for some, because a few days later a young and older women came to our door and left after I didn't answer the door (I don't answer the door to strangers but I do watch to see who is there) and they looked like they could all be related. The women did not go to any other doors in the neighbourhood and did not have a clipboard, fliers or any identification. While walking away from our door I saw her checking out our garden. A couple days later the same women rang our doorbell only this time I saw the women take some tomatoes on her way out. I ended up calling the police to file a report because I was worried this was going to be a daily kind of thing and the whole thing seemed a little weird to me. I harvested all the tomatoes with any colour at all and posted no trespassing signs just in case after this, and they luckily never came back again.
We had another thief once that I caught red handed stealing our cantaloupe on his bike. I guess it's to be expected unfortunately having your garden in your front yard by a busy street and side-walk. I'm hoping we won't have to fence in our front yard but we might have to at some point to keep people out of our yard. We also plan to keep easily picked and consumed veggies as close to the house as possible. I think the state of our garden also was what drew this unwanted attention. I think the guy figured they obviously aren't caring for their garden so they probably won't care if we want some. So we plan to stay on top of harvesting next year. Hopefully they don't come back again next year....
|Garden A: Oct 10 2013|
|Garden A: Oct 10 2013|
Highlights of Our Garden Oct Week 3
While our warm weather plants are over, our root vegetables once invisible in our jungle of a garden now shine. We also finally have our cauliflower starting to grow crowns. We planted them in early spring so I almost gave up hope. All but one has a crown now. Our broccoli still is growing little side shoots but I plan to cut them down soon to let the beets have enough sun to hopefully grow still while there is time.
|Turnips in our backyard don't look like they will grow big enough due to crowding Oct 18 13|
|Lots of parsley in our backyard side bed that should come back next year too! Oct 18 2013|
Our cilantro, basil, mint, and parsley have also been doing well. We have brought in all our container plants. We dehydrated our basil from our garden and brought in our container plants (cilantro, basil, mint, rosemary, and stevia) so that we still have some fresh herbs for a little while longer.
|the green leaves on the purple basil mean they are ready to be picked|
|cilantro, rosemary, and mint container garden Oct 18 2013|
We also have arugula and mustard greens in our backyard that self seeded from spring/summer. We can still pick them although they have gone to seed.
Over the next few weeks I plan to start harvesting our root vegetables because a few years ago we had a huge snowstorm in mid Nov and the snow never melted until March! Talk about a long winter.