It's late October and this area has not yet been subjected to a freeze. In fact the weather, with the exception of a few bouts of heavy rains, has been incredibly nice. The trees are just beginning to change, the winter squash are still blooming and the pepper plants are still producing.
The second batch of winter squash was harvested yesterday from the screen on the right. They have been curing in the sun for about ten days. There are still more squash that I have left on the vine or are curing on the remaining screen. The squash on the vine still looked a little 'green' and since the vines looked healthy, they were left to ripen. That's nearly thirty pounds of Teksukabotu and twenty four pounds of Metro Butternut. The largest Tek squash weighed in at over five pounds. Looks like I'll be making squash soup. So far this year I've harvested sixty pounds of Butternuts, thirty-three pounds of Teksukabotu, and twelve pounds of Golden Nugget.
It's always been a challenge deciding when to harvest winter squash. A general rule thumb is that it takes seven to eight weeks for a squash to fully mature so it's flavor and sugar content is at a maximum. About the third week in August I begin removing any newly set squash, on the assumption that the first frost will happen in mid-October, although a few sneaked by me. You begin to notice indications from each variety of squash that indicate ripeness. The Teksukabotus develop ribs as they ripen, and the green color loses to black. The Butternuts also change color somewhat. I also look at the color of the stem. It should be losing the greens and turning to brown.
The peppers are still growing. Actually they are loaded with green peppers that will never ripen in time. I harvested a Mosquitero ancho, a Jimmy Nardello and a few ripe jalapenos. On the plants there are several Carmen and ancho peppers that are ready to pick. I plan to roast them on the grill in a few days. Many of the serrano and jalapeno peppers were left to rot on the vine, since there were no tomatoes with which to make salsa.
To see what other people are growing, head on over to http://www.ourhappyacres.com/ and take a look.