Saturday, October 8, 2011

Good-bye, Garden

7 Oct 2011: Snow falls on our newly denuded vegetable garden.

Ed came home around 5:30 yesterday, after taking his mom to do some shopping.  We immediately headed out to the garden to take our last harvest of vegetables because we knew the first freeze of the season was going to hit last night.  And it did.

7 Oct 2011: Snow begins to collect on the bean stalks.

No sooner had we started plucking the last of the green beans, chili peppers, and tomatoes than it began to snow in earnest.  Not the light snow we'd experienced earlier in the day, but the kind where the sky goes gray and the temperature seriously drops.  My aching fingers were so frozen that I kept dropping the tomatoes because I couldn't feel them in my hands anymore!

Snow gathers on the now-empty tomato plants.

Plucking the last of the ripe tomatoes was easy, though there were enough to fill three baskets.  Their blushing color was easy to see on the plants.  It was much harder to see all the green tomatoes hiding among the greenery, but they had to come off.  Ed says he has a secret for getting the green tomatoes to ripen, so we should have plenty of tomatoes for the coming weeks.

Snow on my cabbages.

Well...we didn't harvest everything yet.  Ed thought my cabbages should be okay for a few more days.  (Can't wait to enjoy my made-from-scratch cole slaw!)  He's also leaving the onions in the ground for awhile.  They're supposed to be hardy enough to withstand the cold.  But everything else is done until we replant in the spring.

7 Oct 2011: The rotten tomatoes went to the chickens, who love tomatoes
but weren't sure they were worth braving the cold snow to eat!

7 Oct 2011: Our entire Anaheim chili pepper harvest for this year.

The tomatoes, red or green, were brought into the house for a bath in bleach-water to kill any bacteria picked up from the soil.  Then they were laid out overnight to dry.  There were so many tomatoes, they totally took over our kitchen!  Ed already gave away a bunch to our neighbors this morning. 

7 Oct 2011: Ed washes tomatoes and layers them on the counters.

More tomatoes on the counter by the stove...

...and still more on the window counter!

Besides the vegetables, we also had to bring in all the houseplants that enjoyed living on the porch throughout the warm summer months.  They would never have survived the freeze, either.

More houseplants take refuge on the hearth.  I never had indoor plants until I married Ed!

Dylan's spider plants were left out during a freeze this spring and they both died.
Then this one surprised us by reviving, and it's putting out new plant shoots!

I wish I could promise you that this will be the last of my garden blogs, but there are still those onions to dig up and that cole slaw to be made...


Grandma Honey said...

I guess I don't understand why you have to give the tomatoes a bleach bath. Did the snow bring the tomatoes further under the soil? I'm just trying to learn.

And I'm curious what secret Ed knows about ripening tomatoes.

Mary said...

It has nothing to do with the snow. Ed was in Colorado with his mom when the tomato bushes exploded with growth, so he wasn't here to make sure they were contained in their wire baskets. Since the bushes were sprawled across the ground, probably half the tomatoes were laying on the ground as they grew instead of up in the bush. Ed says there's some kind of bacteria in the soil that causes the tomatoes to rot (and it's true that many of those on the ground were going bad on the side that was in the dirt). So he said the water with a few drops of bleach would kill it so the tomatoes won't rot while we wait for them to ripen. I'm just taking his word for it--he's the one who grew up on a farm!

As for the ripening process, it involves alternating layers of tomatoes and newspaper in a 5-gallon bucket, then putting the lid on. Then you rotate the tomato layers regularly as they ripen. I can't recall if its the ones on the top or bottom that ripen first. He says it's an interaction between the chemicals released by the tomatoes and those released by the newspaper. It's all way beyond my comprehension!