Late last week, the weather forecast included lows that were below freezing. Due to the location of the majority of my raised garden beds, I have avoided the light frosts that have visited us up to this point. Once before I thought I would lose most of what was left to a frost, so had harvested all the remaining green tomatoes, onions, and herbs that were still hanging around. Turns out I was wrong then, but did not want to chance it again.
The night before the forecasted freeze, I harvested all the green tomatoes, including the cherry and roma tomatoes. With the last harvest of green tomatoes having been just a few weeks before, I did not think there would be many on the vines. Yes, they have been loaded with blooms but the temperatures have been cool after all. Well, I was wrong. We ended up with a large bowl full of tomatoes of various sizes.
The same assumption was made in regards to the herbs, but again I was wrong. I came away with a huge handful of parsley. I chose to leave the basil, as I did not feel like I had time to give it the attention it needed before going bad. As for the onions, they had not had enough time to mature, so I pulled them and laid them over so they could breakdown in place.
I also make one last pass through the marigolds, collecting seeds to use next year. I have wanted to have enough seeds to start selling some on the stand in the Spring time, but had never reached that point. This year, I made a point to collect seeds from dead heading with that goal alone in mind. Yes, I will use some to grow for myself, but really want to take a step in trying something new (for me).
Looking at the bowl full of green tomatoes and wondering why I would find the time, and motivation, to deal with them, I realized that this was very much a job George could handle. As for the flower seeds, Jack could very much do that. This also meant that they could have jobs to do with me next to them or beside them. They love when we get a chance to work together and they actually contribute.
The next day, I told George I had a job for him and showed him what I needed him to do. He brought in a step stool and went to work. First he took the green parts off the tops (I removed them from the plant in a hurry because it was cold and getting dark). Next he added them to a colendar to rinse off. Lastly, he put them into the food processor and pureed them. I did the final step of measuring them out into bags to freeze for future use. Since we were freezing them, having a few tomatoes that were starting to turn red did not make a difference to the process.
My husband was not so sure about this process when he realized that George was using the food processor “on his own”, but I reassured him that I was right there and George knew what he was doing. Having allowed the kids to ‘help’ when they were younger by pushing the button with me, adding things through the shoot, cleaning the parts and so on, meant this was not the first time he had done this ‘job’. It just mean that this was the first time he had done most of the steps by himself. I have never allowed them to handle the actual blade yet, that will come in time.
As for Jack and the flower seeds, we have not done that ‘job’ yet. The seeds need to dry anyway before we put them away for the winter, so this is not a time sensitive activity. It will most likely happen this week or weekend, but if not we will get to it next week so I can finally get the large envelopes of seeds off my counter. Having marigold seeds spill out everywhere is not a fun thing and is something I have had to be conscious of when ever I move the fruit bowl; it is holding the envelops upright.
The plants in the garden still need to be removed, as it did freeze the night the forecast said it would. Thankfully we have had some warmer days to be able to finish some last minute yard work, and for the work on the garage to start. I had a bad dream about that last night, which means I am a bit worried that something will go wrong before they get a chance to start.
While thinking of putting the garden to rest for the winter, I am also thinking of what needs to be done to prepare it for next year. I am needing to find a source of manure to add, hopefully before our first snow, and maybe a source of wood chips for the flower beds. The compost pile is doing really well, though it also needs to be turned before freezing weather become a norm.
I can not help but think ahead to what I would like to do the same or different next year as compared to this year. When the blackberry bushes started to send out canes that would root into the soil, I tried to place them where I wanted new plants to grow, and also put some down into post so I would be able to transplant them to a new location next year.
Strawberry bed, year 2
I need to give thought to the strawberry bed as well, realizing that I should have given these thoughts to it when I first put it in. It is not beyond ‘fixing’ but will take a bit of intentional work to do so. Sometimes we learn as we go and have to go back. Better to learn eventually than never I suppose.
The south facing bed next to the house is fairley small, about 2′ by 6′, and located under the eves of the house. If it rains hard enough for the gutters to overflow, then the water falls halfway into the bed. However, for the past several years we have not had rain that hard, so this bed is in full sun and lacks the opportunity to get that soft rains that we got this year. I often forget to water it as I should, meaning it has not done well the past several years. I am thinking of re-purposing an old hose into a drip irrigation sort of solution for this. Easier for me to turn on and off at the spigot, rather than water it by hand every week. The one okra plant that came up in another bed, rather the one that surivived my ‘week’ efforts earlier in the summer during dusk hours, did fairly well. I love the look of the plants and we thinking of planting this bed into okra next year. With the added water, it would not only do well, but grow tall enough to fit visually in this area – the window above it is about 8 feet off the ground.
Due to difference in growing zones, some of you may be looking at starting your gardens while others have been finished for a while. I have lived in both places and found it hard to adjust my internal ‘garden clock’. Would your rather live in a zone that has a clear end to the growing season for several months, or one where it is more of a break with the new one starting a month or so later?