Sunday, November 10, 2019

What's happening in the mid-November edible garden

Lavender in late fall

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Well, we are having record cold through the Midwest, setting record low temps across the country for this time of year.  The summer veggies are done until next spring.  Does that mean the end of the kitchen garden?  Nope.  There is still much in the garden to enjoy!

The cold season crops have survived the first teens of the year.  Kale, lettuce, onions, mustards, chard, carrots and herbs are nice and green.  All cold season crops get sweeter when the mercury dips.  Cold season crops for your edible garden

It is time, if you haven’t done so already, to pull up the old vines and give them to the compost heap.  Only compost those that were free from disease; you don’t want to re-introduce any diseases to your garden next season.  I leave seed heads for the birds to snack on for the winter.  

If you are gardening in pots, move them up against a wall that gets southern exposure.  This will move your effective climate zone up a full zone.  If they are on stands or coaster, remove from their stand and set them onto the ground.  They will stay much warmer on the ground than suspended off the ground.

Now is a fun time of year to experiment in the kitchen with all the fresh herbs that are available.  Parsley, thyme, rosemary, sage, tarragon, bay, lavender, chives are all hardy herbs in November.  I have had many Christmas dinners with herbs fresh from the garden.

You can also bring tender perennials like rosemary and bay into the garage or house for the winter.  Other veggies I bring in are my pepper plants, celery, goji berry and citrus trees.  I keep them in our unheated, insulated garage with a 4' grow light over them.

You can also take a look at all the tomatoes you have put up in freezer bags.  If you have more than you know you need, this is the perfect time of year to do some water bath canning.  I go through and any left over from last year, I make into sauce.  Time to make homemade tomato sauce! 

As even more freezing weather comes our way, you can extend the season for lettuce and greens through the winter by using a portable green house or making your own hoop house.  Extend the season with protection for plants

The biggest killer of veggies in greenhouses?  Getting too hot!  Make sure you crack open your green house when the temps get above freezing and the sun is shining.  

I have a little portable green house I put over my Earthboxes.  I will still have lettuce until spring.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Easy, low tox canning of summer's bounty

Tomato sauce in Weck's glass canning jars

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Canning is a great way to preserve your own harvest.  You can also buy organic produce that is on sale from your local grocer or from your local farmers market.  When the produce is in peak season, it is the most healthful and the least expensive of the year.  I freeze all my extra tomatoes, then come fall, I can all the frozen tomatoes from last year. 

When you can, you have to follow the recipe exactly to make sure it is safe to eat.  When canning acidic foods like fruit or tomatoes or anything using vinegar or sugar, you can likely use only a water bath.  All other canning requires a pressure canner to get to high enough temperatures to kill off the bacteria that cause botulism.

Here are some web pages and resources to use:
Mother Earth News “How to Can” app
National center for home food preservation  http://nchfp.uga.edu
USDA’s Complete Guide to Home Canning http://goo.gl/pwrxd
Home Canning  www.homecanning.com 
“Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving” book
“The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving” book

Many of the lids in today's canning jars contain BPA, a chemical that studies suggest act like estrogen in the body and babies and young children are especially susceptible to its effects.  In 2012, BPA was been removed from baby bottles banned by the FDA, but is still found in many products including conventionally canned foods.  Even those that advertise BPA free can contain other substances that are just as harmful.

In my quest to have toxin free canned goods, I bought a 1946 canning booklet from Amazon.com “Steamliner Pressure Cooker-Instructions for Cooking and Canning” so I could learn how to use the old fashioned canning jars I had bought at antique stores.  It was fun to read, complete with recipes!

Okay, I thought, could I do some canning?  My Granny canned during the summers I spent with her when I was little.  We were growing tomatoes in our little flower/veggie garden and my husband loves those big slice pickles on his burgers. 

My handy Ball canning book revealed that tomatoes, fruits, and pickles are high acid so they do not require a Pressure Canner; only a water bath was needed.  Makes it an inexpensive experiment.

I read that many canning lids also contain BPA.  So, what other options were there?  I found these beautiful glass lids in an antique store.  I also bought the jars with the wire closure.  All I needed now were the rubber seals and some directions!

Old fashioned canning jars, 1946 canning pamphlet, Weck's glass canning jar
I searched the web to see if I could find any instructions on how to use old fashioned canning jars.  No luck.  Then I went to Amazon to see if there were any books on it.  I found a 1946 pamphlet “Steamliner Pressure Cooker-Instructions for Cooking and Canning.”  Success!  It was great fun browsing the pamphlet.  It was also very thorough in its instructions on how to use the old fashioned canning jars.

I went on line and ordered a variety of seals, sticking with ones that were not made in China and were natural rubber.  I wasn’t able to find any that fit well with my cool, old fashioned jars.  I also learned that the glass lids needed very tall rings to seal properly to the modern Mason jars.  The modern rings you can get today were just too short to close properly.

Back to square 1!

Then, I ran across an advertisement for these beautiful glass jar with glass lid made in Germany-Weck’s (it is the second from the right in the pic).  Finally, a non-toxic jar!

Later I discovered a plastic lid that is also BPA free that can be used with modern jars made by Tattler, made in the USA since 1976.  They are a seamless replacement for the metal lids with today's canning jars.

The Weck’s work great.  Easy to use, easy to know that the seal is good, and beautiful to look at.  I highly recommend them.  Since I started using these glass jars, I have seen other European makers of all glass jars and lids available, like Terrina Ermetico and Bormioli Rocco.

All you really need when canning high acid foods is a tall stock pot with lid, tongs, a stainless steel spoon, a towel to put the hot jars on, a cutting board to stage the hot jars, and your canning jars.

Here is a link to my blog on how to make tomato sauce:  
Preserving the tomato harvest

And a link to how to make pickles:
Easy, homemade pickles

Happy canning!

Saturday, November 2, 2019

November 2019 Edible Garden Planner

Fall garden
Saturday, November, 2019

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, 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 worth the risk going into winter.  I keep the seed heads on the flowers in the garden for food for the birds over the 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  Outdoor compost piles go slowly in the fall and winter, but speed up as temps rise in the spring.

I have used an electric composter called NatureMill that we kept in the garage by the door.  It was 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 with an electric composter.  You can store the compost you are making in a trash bag to use when preparing your spring beds and to revitalize potting soils.  Re-energize your potting soil!  It is great for flowers and vegetables.

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.  Unfortunately, it leaked when it rained and rusted.  I switched to an all plastic type with dual bins.  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.  Here are my reflections last fall for the edible garden.  Reflecting back on 2018, planning for 2019   I'll do one for this season in the next couple of weeks.   

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?  Use this winter to figure out what to grow in the spring!

Even if you have a small area, you can grow most of what you eat.  How to decide what to plant for small spaces?

Fall is a fabulous time to make new garden beds.  It is super easy, too.  Just use a hose to outline your new bed, fertilize, 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 had 2 freezes in the last week or so and more are coming next week.  It is unusually cold for this time of year.  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

I transplanted volunteer lettuce into the portable greenhouse pots and more lettuce seed.  Having cover will help them sprout.  It is late to start seed but will give a boost for spring harvests.

If you are using pots, putting the pots on the south side, in a sunny local and close to the house will keep them from getting frost bit into November or even December for cold season crops.  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, we had peppers a month earlier than when using new plants.  Tomatoes are also contenders for overwintering indoors.  All are tender perennials and need direct sun to do well indoors.  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.  For the last 2 winters, 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 the eggplants.  Eggplants are spotty, but worth the try if you had a great one.  Be sure to save seed so you can keep the plants going that do well in your garden. Seed saving-fun, easy and a cost saver    You can save seeds even from heirlooms you buy in the store to try in your garden.  I have a few that have become standbys in our garden that came from the grocery store and farmers market.
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 harvested 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.  Otherwise a cold snap can kill the plant.

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 plan around them for your meal.  Some winter hardy edibles include kale, cabbage, chives, sage, thyme, corn salad, sorrel, plantain greens, celery, mustards, even some hardy lettuces.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Frost forecasted? Here’s your to-do list



Saturday, October 26, 2019

With frost in the air, summer loving veggies are coming to the end of their season.  Veggies like tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, cucumber, basil, and peppers do not like cold weather.  It is time to harvest the last of the summer veggies and get the cold crops the protection they need to continue producing through fall and winter.

Basil turns black when bitten with the first frost.  Harvest all remaining basil when they call for low temperatures of 36 or below.  I make lots of pesto and freeze.  Makes for a super quick and tasty meal any time.  Basil basics-harvesting, preserving, growing basil

Our zucchini gave up weeks ago.  If you want to keep strong zucchini production until frost, it is best to plant a second round of plants in mid-summer.  Growing zucchini and summer squash

Cucumbers are done in my garden.  Cucumber info and tips for growing  If yours is still producting, harvest what is on the vine and put in the fridge to use for salads or smoothies.  Grow your own smoothie and juice garden

The peppers are still producing.  They handle cooler weather better than the rest of the summer veggies.  I’ll wait until it is going to get below 28 before I strip off all the peppers still on the plant.  See Peppers are for every taste and garden and  Preserving peppers  for growing and preserving info.  For my favorite plants, I usually bring indoors to overwinter.  They will continue to flower and fruit for weeks in the unheated garage and have a jump on production in the spring.  Peppers, tomatoes and eggplant are all tropical perennials.  This year, I am not bringing any of them indoors as my freezer is bursting at the seams.

I'll follow the same approach for tomatoes.  When it is going to get below 32, I’ll take off all tomatoes left on the vine.  The best way to get them to ripen is to wrap each individually in newspaper and store in a dark location.  They will slowly ripen.  Won’t be as tasty as off the vine, but better than what you can get in the store.  Or you can do fried green tomatoes A late fall tradition-fried green tomatoes!  You can bring in your favorite tomato plants to an unheated garage, too, to overwinter.

I am still getting a few tomatoes.  I typically wait until it is nice and chilly to start canning.  I'll take all of last year's frozen tomatoes and make into sauce for the winter.  I like waiting until it is cooler before canning!  Preserving the tomato harvest

My eggplants are still giving us a few fruits each week.  They are happy in their pots.  We have great luck growing our eggplant in pots.  Eggplant-add this native from India to your garden  I freeze the extra eggplants I have either sliced in half or thinner slices to be grill ready.  It is best to blanch eggplant before freezing to keep them tasty for months in the freezer.  Freezing the extras for winter

Now is also a great time to divide any perennials you have, whether they be herbs, edibles or ornamentals.  This will give them all fall and winter to put down strong roots.  Perennial greens are always the first up in the spring.  Midwest Perennial Vegetable Garden

It is still not too late to transplant fall crops like cold hardy types of lettuce, cabbage, chard, pak choi, broccoli, kale, parsley, garlic, onions or perennial herbs.

Now is the time to order your mini greenhouse to extend the season.  I put mine out over the greens in my Earthboxes yesterday to keep the lettuce and greens going all winter.  Preparing for a hard freeze

Sunday, October 20, 2019

What's happening in the late October garden


Sunday, October 20, 2019

This is a time of year that most summer vegetables are winding down and cold crops are growing strong.  With frost, many summer vegetables will die and cold season crops will get sweeter.  The biggest difference between spring and fall is that the days are getting shorter instead of longer.  For planting in the fall, add 2 weeks to the "Days to harvest" on seed packets to compensate.

We continue to fertilize our vegetables monthly.  Fertilizer stimulates new growth so don't fertilize the plants that are "tender"/susceptible to frost.  This is also a great time to re-mulch the garden beds to give an added blanket of protection to prolong the season.  The mulch will break down over the winter, providing additional organic matter.

Be sure that you are saving seeds from your best producers for next year's garden.  Seeds from plants that do well in your garden are the best to save as they are proven to like your garden conditions.  Always save seed from the best tasting, best sized veggies.  Seed saving-fun, easy and a cost saver

Our zucchini and cucumbers are done for the year.  It is a good idea to replant some zucchini seeds in August to keep zucchinis on hand in the garden.  It is not a bad idea to replant tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini in early August each year to keep these plants at top producing vigor until frost.

Our tomatoes and eggplant are still producing slowly.  For tomatoes, be sure to take all the tomatoes off the vine before it frosts.  You can either wrap the green tomatoes in newspaper and store in a cool place to ripen, make them into relish, or eat them as fried.  For fried green tomatoes, we use Andy’s Cajun batter.  Gives them a nice, spicy flavor.  A late fall tradition-fried green tomatoes!

Any plant that has a disease, do not compost!  Throw away in the trash.  Composting may not kill all spores and you could be spreading the disease next season wherever you use the compost.  Composting is possible in small spaces or even indoors

Peppers love this time of year.  They are native to the mountains so they love this weather.  They will continue to produce even after frost.  To prolong the season, I put the pots up against the house.  You can also bring them indoors and they will produce for weeks inside.  When spring comes and you put them back outside, they will get a jump start on producing next year.  Peppers a Plenty in September

I have gotten many Poblano peppers off the two pots I had this year.  I have had them drying.  I cut them in half and keep them outside until it starts getting chilly.  It is about time for me to put them in the oven at a low temp and get the rest of the moisture out and grind them into chili powder.  

For the sweet peppers, I grew three varieties in pots and am still getting peppers from them. 

I harvested the basil in mid-September to dry.  I put the cut stems into a paper bag loosely to let them dry.  I took the leaves off the dry stems today.  I'll keep them in a ziplock in a dark room until I am ready to use them. 

Basil are very tender annuals and will turn black with the first frost.  You can dig them up and bring them in for the winter.  Place them in a full sun spot.  You can put them back outside again in the spring after all danger of frost has passed.  Basil basics-harvesting, preserving, growing basil

I volunteer lettuce, parsley, carrots, and cilantro that are a few inches tall now.   All are doing well.  My potted cultivated dandelions, arugula, corn salad and parsley is still producing and will continue through the winter.  Dandelions are perennials and very healthy to eat.  The Italian and French types have been bred to have large leaves.  Great to make salads.  Plant lettuce seed now for fall and winter harvest...

Cabbage, kale, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, chard, onions, arugula and other cold crops get sweeter with cool weather and a nice frost.  The kale is putting on many new leaves.  They love the cool weather. If the taste of these are too strong for your palate right now, give them another chance after frost.  Our Egyptian walking onions are lush and green.  The bulbs are filling out nicely.   Egyptian walking onions

This is also the perfect time of year to reseed your lawn or transplant perennials.  The fall and winter give the roots time to establish so they will be ready to grow upwards come spring. 

Many herbs are perennials-garlic, sprouting onions, lavender, oregano, chives, sage, tarragon, thyme, savory, salad burnet, and rosemary.  Bay laurel is a perennial but may not make it through our erratic temperatures.  I keep them in pots and bring into the garage each year.  They are getting quite large. The rosemary I planted last year returned this year.  We shall see if it makes it another year.  I don't have the best luck with rosemary making it through late winter/early spring.  Perennial veggies in the Midwest garden

Fall is a great time to cut back your herbs.  Save the stems, place loosely in a paper bag, put in a dry location, and in about a month you will have all the dried herbs you and many family members will need for the next year!  Make your own "Herbes de Provence"

Fall is a bountiful time for gardening.  I have planted many winter hardy varieties of lettuce, kale,  mustards, onions and carrots to keep the garden producing into December and hopefully beyond.  With the portable greenhouse, we will have greens all winter.  How to extend the garden season

October is prime time to plant garlic


Sunday, October 20, 2019

Garlic is rich in lore.  It has been reputed to repel vampires, clear the blood, cure baldness, aid digestion over the ages.  Garlic has been around for thousands of years.  It originated in Asia, was cultivated in Egypt and has been a Mediterranean staple for centuries.

Today’s studies have shown is garlic antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral, and a cancer fighter. And, it tastes great!  Garlic is high in vitamin C, B6, calcium, manganese, selenium and more.  For more nutritional info,  garlic nutritional value 

It is easy to grow and has little pest issues.  All you do is throw them in the ground in the fall in October or November and by early summer, they are ready to harvest.  Loosening the soil and adding compost prior to planting can boost the garlic bulb size.  I have planted Elephant garlic straight into my mulched flower beds and had great luck.  Their flower in spring is quite striking as well.

The clove puts out roots in the fall.  Depending on how warm the winter is, there can be green shoots showing through the cold months.  Garlic will be some of the first to start growing.  The stems resemble onion greens.  The garlic flower, or scape, has a cute little curl in it.  It grows on hard neck varieties.  They are great in salads.  There is debate among garlic growers if removing the scape will also increase the bulb size.  Either way, you can't lose by harvesting them.
Garlic sprouting
You should choose the biggest cloves to plant.  The bigger the clove, the bigger the harvest!  Cloves as a root vegetable like loose soil, compost and steady fertilizer.  Like carrots, radishes and beets, you can add sand to give a looser soil structure in your garlic bed.  Simply tilling in compost should provide the soil texture that garlic loves.  Compost and mulch well in the fall before cold weather sets in.

Plant the cloves root side down, 1-2” deep, and 4-6” apart.  For planting by the cycle of the moon, garlic should be planted during the waning cycle of the moon.  After the greens sprout to 6”, add compost or fertilizer as a side dressing.  Garlic does not need a lot of nitrogen so compost is a good choice.

Garlic is ready to harvest then the tops begin to die off.  Each leaf represents a layer of the white covering on your clove bulb.  Dig up one or two when about half of the leaves have died (40% yellowed/brown leaves).  If the bulb is still small, wait a couple more weeks before harvesting.   If you harvest too late, the outer covering will have disintegrated and you will have just loose, naked cloves.  Typically garlic harvest is mid-summer.
Garlic ready to harvest
Be careful when you go to harvest.  If you cut the bulb, it will not keep and needs to eaten soon.  The garlic should be left in dry shade for 2-3 weeks or brought inside and stored in a cool, dry location with good air circulation.  They can be hung or placed in a perforated bin to dry and store.  

Store bought garlic has been treated with chemicals to keep them from sprouting so they are not a great choice for growing your own.  A great option is to buy garlic from your local farmers market.  You know they grew well in your area.  Just separate out the bulb(s) into individual cloves and plant the biggest ones.  Be sure to leave the "skin" on the cloves that you intend to plant.  You can eat or preserve the smaller cloves.

Garlic can be mild or hot.  Elephant garlic is very mild and not really true garlic at all.  It is a type of leek.  It has a great garlic flavor and produces huge bulbs.  I always keep the biggest cloves to replant in the fall.
Elephant garlic flower
You can tell the difference in the two by looking at the flowers.  Leeks and soft neck garlic have a onion type flower while garlic has a curly scape flower.
Hardneck garlic scapes
There is soft and hard necked garlic.  For storing, soft neck garlic is the ticket.  It is also the strongest flavored.  Hard necked is milder, easier to peel, more cold hardy and the first to mature. 

Everyone knows of garlic in sauces and on cheese bread.  A few years ago, we tried roasted garlic.  It dramatically mellows the flavor.  I just put a few heads in a small baking dish, add chicken stock to just about level to the cut heads, and let bake covered at 350 for 30-45 minutes, until soft.  It is a great spread on French bread!

If your garlic dries up over the winter, grind it into garlic powder.  If you have great tasting garlic that doesn’t store well or you have a bountiful crop, another preservation option is pickled garlic.  Just peel (Quick tip-”peeling” garlic) and cover your fresh garlic cloves in organic apple cider vinegar.  You can add a couple of hot peppers if you want to add some extra zing!

Of course, you can also add garlic to the tomato sauce (Preserving the tomato harvest)pickles (Easy, homemade pickles) or peppers you are going to can.  You can flavor vinegars or oils by popping crushed garlic into them (Quick tip-make your own flavored oils).  Many options for utilizing your garlic harvest!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Fall composting tips

Dual chamber tumbler compost bin
Monday, October 14, 2019

Had problems with your compost bin last winter?  Fall is the time to get your compost bins set up for winter.

Last winter, my compost bin pretty much had my food scraps on hold with no composting happening.  To make sure I have enough composting space this winter, I plan on getting both sides of my dual composter cleared out so I have plenty of room for my winter food scraps.

In winter, composting slows down to a crawl.  My tumbler type composter also let water in when it rains.  I had an insulated compost bin made from galvanized metal from Jur_Global, but it rusted through in a couple of years because rain water would leak into it and it was expensive!  I bought a plastic composter this year so I don't have to worry about it rusting, but it is not insulated so composting will be even slower this fall and winter.

I did save the insulated tumbling composter.  Would like to make another like it but with aluminum so it won't rust away.  A project for the future...........

You could place your tumbling type composter under an awning to keep out unwanted rain water.  This would keep it from being soaking wet which pretty much stops composting activity.  

Since I don't have a covered area to put my tumbler type composter, I plan on getting it cleaned out by the end of October.  I'll add plenty of dry materials to help compensate for the rain intrusion through the winter season along with my food scraps.  

My new tumbling compost bin came with a catch bucket underneath.  I'll use the liquids for my "compost" tea on my indoor plants.

For more tips on composting problems, Troubleshooting your compost pile