Sunday, October 18, 2015

What we are harvesting in the garden mid-October

Tomatoes and peppers with zinnias in the background
Sunday, October 18, 2015

The garden continues to produce well; more than we can eat fresh.  We are harvesting zucchini, tomatoes, onions, peppers,  lettuce, sprouting broccoli, broccoli, chard, sorrel, mustard greens, green beans, strawberries, figs, and all herbs.  I am freezing about a pint of peppers, a pint of green beans, and up to 4 quarts of tomatoes a week as well as drying the herbs we need for the winter.

Our tomatoes, peppers and green beans are still yielding well.  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 like a Cajun batter.  Gives them a nice, spicy flavor.  A late fall tradition-fried green tomatoes!

The cucumber vines died back last week.  Cukes hail from the tropics so these cool temps are just not to their liking.  Cucumber info and tips for growing

As you straighten up your garden beds as the summer crops wind down, be sure to compost!  Any plant that has a disease, do not add to your compost pile.  Throw away.  Composting may not kill all spores and you could be spreading the disease next season wherever you use the compost.  For more tips on composting (even indoors), Composting is possible in small spaces or even indoors.

Peppers love this time of year.  They are native to the mountains so October is perfect for them.  They will continue to produce even after frost.  Many of my peppers did not do well this year.  The Pimento gave some nice peppers early on, but stopped producing over a month ago.  The baby bells and sweet yellow and orange banana also have wound down.  The sweet long ancient red pepper is still going strong and I am freezing the extras.   I harvest them when they start to get some color in them and let them finish ripening on the counter.  Removing the fruits encourages the plant to replace them, giving you more peppers.  Peppers get sweeter when they ripen, but are good to eat even when green.  

I am considering digging up the yellow banana, orange banana, mini bell and long ancient sweet pepper plants and bringing into the garage to over winter since they did so well this year.  I already have a potted Chiltepin hot pepper plant I finally got going in August that I am going to overwinter.

Basil is doing great right now.  They had the best season this year I have seen!  The plants grew into full bushy mounds.  Basil are very tender annuals and will turn black with the first frost.  Make sure to harvest all the leaves prior to the first frost.  You can dry basil, make it into pesto or freeze it in water.
Stevia in bloom, covered in butterflies

You can also 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.

Sage, rosemary, bay, stevia, thyme, lavender and tarragon are all robust.  The tarragon maybe a little too robust!  Tarragon smells wonderful.  Even if you can't eat all that you can harvest fresh and dried, it makes a wonderful potpourri.  I just use dried, whole stems in a vase to freshen an entire room.

The greens are doing very well that I seeded in mid-September.  They love this time of year, cool with plenty of rain.  The spinach, lettuce, cilantro, and celery have all sprouted.

We are still getting fruit from the garden.  Strawberries are ripe again from the everbearers and Alpine strawberries.  Our fig tree continues to produce figs.

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

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