We had another beautiful fall week this week but that all came crashing to an end on Sunday!! Temperatures went from 80 on Saturday to the high 50’s on Sunday. That means frost this morning or if not this morning then tomorrow morning! I know you will think I’m crazy but I’m glad to see frost!! The last month our garden has been so overwhelmed with aphids and leaf miners. I’m glad to see freezing temperatures to get rid of all the dang bugs!
Saturday, in anticipation of the upcoming frost, Valerie and I spent the morning ripping out the two gardens. There wasn’t much left at the borrowed garden, just a few tomato plants. It turned out that some time this week there was frost at the borrowed garden. Everything was dead! It took us a couple of hours to rip out all the tomato, pepper and cucumber plants at home. Now as you can see the garden looks all barren and sad!! The only things left are a few broccoli plants, some parsley and the 3 winter beds of lettuce, spinach and carrots.
Here’s a basket of goodies that we picked from all the plants we ripped out. 4 pounds of small cucumbers (I think I’m going to try to make a 1/2 batch of pickles) a few pounds of peppers, some baby zucchini and tucked underneath are about a pound of Sun Sugar tomatoes.
Also we brought in and weighed the last two pumpkins. They will spend the rest of the week outside in the sun so they can finish up ripening, but they are about ready for Halloween!!
This is actually the biggest picking of Raspberries we have had all year from our brand new patch! Just enough to put on a few waffles for breakfast! We also got a small picking of strawberries. I think based on what I could see we may have one more picking next Saturday.
And of course ripping out all of the aphid infested tomato plants meant we had a ton of tomatoes! We sorted them into 3 boxes, red, orange and green! I counted the box of ripe tomatoes and the “orange” ones in this weeks totals. All the partially ripe tomatoes will sit together in that box for a week or so and should ripen up. The ripe ones will go into a few fresh tomato recipes this week and the left overs we will freeze for use during the winter. We already have over 60 bottles of tomatoes canned so we are trying the freezer method as well this year.
So how are we going to deal with all 25 pounds of those green tomatoes?? In order to have green tomatoes ripen we follow the following steps:
1. Don’t bother with the small stuff! While we are going through our tomato plants we only pick decent sized tomatoes. It’s not worth the bother with all the millions of little tomatoes.
2. Sort your tomatoes well. Any tomatoes that are showing even the smallest sign of ripening need to be in a box by themselves. Ripening tomatoes (and many other fruits) put off a chemical that causes other tomatoes to ripen. If one of your tomatoes is ripening and you leave it with the others they will all start to ripen. We like to pull any ripening fruit out and keep it separate that way the whole box doesn’t ripen at once.
3. After about a week of being indoors put all your green tomatoes in open boxes (or just on a table top) only one layer deep. Again this keeps the ripening from spreading too quickly. Keep your tomatoes in a very cool spot. We like to keep ours in the garage where it is cold all winter but never freezes.
4. As the tomatoes start to ripen, like I said above, separate the ripening fruit from the green. We have found that if we do this we get a nice slow ripening process over the course of a couple of months. Some years we have had garden grown tomatoes as late as New Years and have used them to make salsa! Of course if you want them to ripen sooner then you can leave a ripening fruit in the box with the others or bring them in the warm house where they will ripen much sooner.
5. Keep your expectations low here guys. These are NOT the vine ripened mouth watering beauties you are harvesting in August and September. We often compare them to store bought tomatoes. They just don’t have the same flavor and texture that their vine ripened counterparts have. But they are home grown and organic, and are perfect for soups and casseroles in the early winter months!
Here’s our harvest totals for the week:
Borrowed Garden (Last harvest of the year)
Tomatoes – 4.50 lbs
Pumpkins – 23 lbs
Peppers – 2.25 lbs
Zucchini – .75 lbs
Cucumbers – 4 lbs
Tomatoes – 43 lbs
Strawberries – .50 lbs
Total – 73.50 lbs
That makes our annual total from the home garden 692 lbs! With the green tomatoes that will ripen over the next couple of months plus the little bit we will get from the fall broccoli and the winter cold frames we may break 725 pounds before year end! I have to say I’m pretty happy with this total, it’s not bad for our first full year of gardening at the new house and easily matches all but our very biggest years at the old house and we have half the land here!
We will be joining several blog hops this week including the Tuesday Garden Party at an Oregon Cottage, Garden Tuesday at Sidewalk Shoes, The Homestead Barn Hop at The Prairie Homestead and of course the Monday Harvest Report at Daphne’s Dandelions!