Sunday, October 2, 2016
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. I’ll harvest all remaining basil when they call for low temperatures 36 or below. I harvested my basil mid-summer as well. Had about 12 cups or so of leaves. I added about a cup of olive oil in the food processor. Once combined, I put in a freezer bag. Now, I can just break off a piece anytime I want fresh basil flavor in a recipe. 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
Still have cucumbers producing strong. Getting several each week. Cucumber info and tips for growing What I don’t eat, I am putting in the fridge to use for smoothies. Grow your own smoothie and juice garden
The peppers are still producing like crazy. They handle cooler weather better than the rest of the summer veggies. I’ll wait until it is going to get down to 32 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 will 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.
I use the same approach for tomatoes. When it is going to get down to 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. You can bring in your favorites to an unheated garage, too, to overwinter.
I am still getting many tomatoes. Froze 4 quarts of fresh tomatoes so far this week and have another 2 quarts on the counter. Sometime this month when it is a nice cool, crisp day, I’ll go through the freezer and take all the frozen tomatoes from 2015 and make them into sauce. I like waiting until it is cooler before canning! Preserving the tomato harvest
This year I am also trying an Italian heirloom storage variety that you cut the vine with the tomatoes attached and hang to store. They are supposed to last for months this way. We shall see! They are called “A Grappoli D'Inverno Tomato”. This is a determinate variety which means it flowers only once versus a continuous harvest.
My eggplant is still giving us several fruits each week. It is very happy in its pot on the covered patio. This variety, Japanese White Egg, has been hardy, but the fruits are literally the size of a small egg. I overwintered this plant last winter but will not this year. We'll go back to a larger white eggplant and the Turkish Orange for next year's garden. We have had 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.
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 or perennial herbs. Try your local nursery for fall transplants.
Now is the time to order your mini greenhouse to extend the season. I’ll put mine out over the greens in my Earthboxes sometime this month to keep the lettuce and greens going all winter. Preparing for a hard freeze