Friday, October 27, 2017

Frost forecasted? Here’s your to-do list

Friday, October 27, 2017

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 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 finally gave up a couple of weeks ago.  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 favorite tomato plants to an unheated garage, too, to overwinter.

I am still getting many tomatoes.  Froze 2 quarts of fresh tomatoes so far this week and have another quart on the counter.  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.  IWe have had great luck growing our eggplant in pots.  I may overwinter the Casper eggplants since they are so hard to get started from seed.  The purple variety is an easy start.  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, garlic, onions or perennial herbs.

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

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