The frost is on the pumpkins

After a very mild and pleasant October, the temperature finally dropped below freezing this morning. The same is expected for tomorrow before it warms up again.

I didn’t feel much pressure to get the garden ready for frost until last week. Maybe it was the geese I heard, or maybe it was the vague threat in the ten-day forecast. I pulled and stripped beans, replanted those beds to lettuce and spinach, put on the lids that had been moved the week before, and stripped and pulled all the tomatoes.

Consequently, there are seven dishpans of green tomatoes in the front porch. Not to mention the six gallons in the freezer, ripe and ready to be made into sauce. A batch is on the stove as I write this.

The Amish Paste did finally bear, but only in the last month. The majority of the volume of green tomatoes in the front porch is from these bushes, mainly because they are the largest. I did get a few red ones during the summer and into September, but it looked disappointing. Acker’s Plum and Aunt Lucy’s Italian Paste tomatoes could have kept going for several more weeks. They produced two batches of tomatoes, the second timed well with the mild fall.

Although San Marzano had mostly dried up, the tomatoes continued to ripen. They were easy to see against the dried vines. I wish the tomatoes on Principe Borghese had been bigger. These tomatoes started producing first, and kept going all through the summer. The two mentioned above had distinct batches.

I also cleaned out the last melon bed and gave the small green fruits to the dogs. This is actually the asparagus bed. I need to lay several bags of manure over them to keep them fed for the winter. I have read they need manure spring and fall.

The peas are almost to the top of the cattle panels and already blooming. I hope they weather the frost and produce in November.

Lessons learned 2

1. Wood shavings work well once the soil has warmed up. They kept weeds down in the beds where they were used. Most of the weeding had to be done either in the beds without shavings, or in the paths between the beds. Despite the landscape cloth and mulch. I am tilling this year’s shavings into the soil to nurture next year’s vegetables. They disappear within the first year. Sawdust is also good, but does not control weeds. It disappears very quickly.
2. Rubber bungee cords may look great, but they get brittle and break. Once they break, the wind can push the lid open and crack it against whatever is behind it. Usually another bed. It costs $25 to $20 to replace the clear plastic, although I can usually prolong their use with clear packaging tape.
3. Alternate low-growing tomatoes with higher crops such as cucumbers. Otherwise the cucumbers shade themselves and produce fewer fruits. This is a problem because the long beds in the back yard are so close. Saucy is a low-growing tomato, and does not have a lot of foliage. Perfect for this purpose. It also dried up early, so the space can be planted to peas sooner.

I continue to make mistakes because I add new things to my garden structure. This was the first year I had four cattle panels in beds next to each other. I had originally thought that shadowing would not be a problem, but I have learned differently.

I still need to pick up all the detritus from plant removal and tote it to the compost pile. When I get it all cleaned up, I hope to take some pics to post on the blog.

It has been a busy week. Every afternoon was spent in the garden, and fortunately, the weather wasn’t too bad. Wind mostly. The weekend looks very nice, and next week is till in the mid-sixties. Warm enough to ride the bike, now that most of the garden chores are done. After this, I need to check the green tomatoes daily and make/can sauce.

Happy gardening!



~ by suscrofa on October 28, 2010.

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