Monday, November 14, 2016

Monday November 14

Well it had to happen sooner or later, and this year it was definitely later.  I'm talking about the first hard freeze of course.  There was a light frost midweek that wilted some of the sweet potatoes and squash leaves at ground level but did not touch the peppers .   Friday called for a hard freeze that night and it was time to get the remaining peppers inside. 

From the top left are Mama Mia Giallo, an orange sweet pepper that I really like, Carmen and a few Jimmy Nardello peppers.  On the bottom are Mosquitero ancho peppers.  Jalapenos are on the right.  I plan to roast all but the jalapenos on the grill tonight.  I was hoping that the anchos would ripen but they never did.  They are not green either, there is a chocolate tone mixing in, so I'm hoping they will be good.  I'm not a fan of green peppers and much prefer fully ripe peppers.

The sweet potatoes were dug up.  There's no picture because there is nothing to show, just a few pounds of small roots and pieces of larger ones - food for the rabbits.  The voles got most of them.  I even managed to turn over one of the rodents while digging them up, and went after it with the shovel but it got away.   Next year, no potatoes or sweet potatoes in this bed.  I plan to grow some potatoes in containers.  No point in providing a buffet for the rodents.

The remaining squash were brought inside.  A few Tekskabotu were still on the vine and were also brought inside.  It was by far the best winter squash year ever.  I harvested 80.4 pounds of butternut squash from 4 plants, 42.0 pounds of Tekskabotu squash from 1 plant, and 12. 1 pounds of Golden Nugget squash from 1 plant, for a total of 135.4 pounds of winter squash. That does not include 11 pounds of Teksukabotu squash that may or may not be ripe enough for consumption.  All from a bit over 100 square feet of planting space.  To be fair, the plot was surrounded by trellises and the squash were trained over the potato patch once the potatoes were out, but still, it's an impressive harvest.

Once everything was out the garden was cleaned up.  The remaining structure was removed and the pepper plants cut down.  The 9 foot tall okra plant was sawed down.  To see what other people are harvesting, head on over to

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Hard to believe it looks like this in November

Still no frost, in fact we haven't been close to a freeze.  Last year the first frost was mid-October, more typical, although after that initial frost it seems it was about three weeks before the next frost.  Nevertheless it has been an unusually warm and pleasant fall this year.  The back bed in this photo shows the pepper plants.  The ancho and Mama Mia Giallo plants are tall and weighed down by peppers.   The middle bed has some parsnip and a cover crop of field peas and oats.  That's the last of the squash on the drying rack, although there are a few more still maturing on the vine. 

Speaking of mature squash, here's a comparison of a fully ripe Teksukabotu and one that never made it to maturity.  It probably set in September.  I had to harvest it since the vine was dead.  I don't know if the 'green' squash will be fit to eat but it can't hurt to cut it open and have a look.

This is a Mama Mia Giallo pepper that, with a little luck, may just ripen up. It will be harvested regardless.  It looks like next week will be sunny so it's got a good chance.

This is what I call the 'greenhouse bed' since it will get a plastic tent-shaped greenhouse set over it when winter finally gets here.  From left to right there are bunching onions that you can't see,  a row of mache that never germinated (what gives Pinetree?), a row of winter mix lettuce, two rows of Burpee's doublechoice hybrid spinach, a row of Reflect spinach, and garlic, which is just poking up.

I've had much more success with overwintering spinach than planting it in the spring.  The Reflect spinach, which I tried last year, has done the best in spring plantings so I thought I'd try it for overwintering.  For those of you who haven't had success with spinach, trial some different varieties.  Most varieties that I have tried have not done well for me, but the ones that have worked for me I have stuck with and they have proved reliable. 

This bed was planted in brassicas this year.  It's now growing a cover crop of field peas.  I harvest them with shears and fed them to the rabbits.  The peas should be 'fixing' some nitrogen on their root nodules, always a plus.

Most of the strawberries in the pallet planter have survived.  Still don't know if this is going to work or not.

The squash and sweet potato vines are still alive.  There's no likelihood of frost until next weekend so I'm in no hurry to dig up the sweet potatoes.  The leaves are another source of rabbit food.  The Silver Queen okra plant in the back is about nine feet tall now.  It's not producing any more usable okra but it's still growing.  I'll have to saw it down.

And the raspberry plants are still producing a trickle of berries. There's Autumn Bliss and Carolina Red.  They are both everbearing but I plan to cut them off at the ground again this year.  Last year the wet weather gave them a bad case of fungus and they are still not fully recovered.  Better not to leave any foliage over the winter.

Then there's the apple trees.  This is the first year that they set out a lot of fruit.  At first I was worried that they had set too many fruit but about a third of the young apples quickly dropped off, as if the tree knew it had too many apples.  Then the birds, probably blue jays, took an interest in the apples.  They would knock one off, peck at it a few times and leave it.  Sometimes they would carry them off a little ways then drop them.  They must have though it was great sport.  Still in late summer there were some apples remaining.  Then the wasps found them.  Wasps would find an entry into the apple then eat it out from the inside.  Long story short, there are no apples left on either tree.  None.  Maybe next year.