Sunday, November 27, 2016
Well, the first hard freeze has finally swept through the Midwest. It was a record high temperature and record low rainfall for our fall season, but the summer veggies are now done until next spring. Does that mean the end of the kitchen garden? Nope. There is still much in the garden to enjoy!
I brought in the last of the peppers, tomatoes and eggplants a couple of days ago. I'll let them ripen on the counter. For tomatoes, it is recommended that you wrap in newspaper and store in a dark place for ripening. A late fall tradition-fried green tomatoes! For unripe fruits, make sure you check for any soft spots that signal frost or freeze damage. These tomatoes, peppers and eggplant will rot. Add them to your compost.
The cold season crops have survived the first twenties of the year. Kale, lettuce, broccoli, onions, mustards, chard, and herbs are nice and green. All cold season crops get sweeter when the mercury dips.
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. Composting is possible in small spaces or even indoors
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, set them onto the ground. They will stay much warmer on the ground than suspended off the ground. Homegrown, organic salads in a Midwest winter
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. Jazz up the Christmas feast with herbs from the garden
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. 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. It doesn't work just for spring, but also for fall and winter! 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.