Friday, October 2, 2009

Ghosts in the Garden

Years ago, a new neighbor called to me over the fence in mid-October. "You gave us a bit of a start last night," she said. "We came home late, and thought there were ghosts in your garden."

We laughed. Standing there in the sunlight, she could see that I'd wrapped up my tomato plants in old draperies to protect them from an expected freeze. But I'm sure things looked different in the moonlight, especially with Halloween on the way.

I covered the tomatoes and peppers a couple of nights ago, and everything made it through the night's low of 31º. Night before last was predicted even colder, and I didn't want to take a chance on losing anything, so I picked all the mature green tomatoes, peppers and squash. I covered the tomato plants again, just in case I could get them through a few more weeks, but a low of 25º was too much even with the covers. And now snow is expected tomorrow night. I dug up the beets, carrots, and potatoes this afternoon, and have only one taller cherry tomato plant, the tomatillo, and the cole crops still out there.

6 comments:

Carla said...

Snow! Already?!? I'm not ready for that yet... I did pick all of my tomatoes & peppers earlier in the week - still have the root crops in the ground, & the pumpkins & winter squash on the vines... Rained all day yesterday - we needed it. Temps down into the mid-high 30s last night. But going to be back up into the 60s next week.

I have a question for you, Sadge: can anything be done (as in eating) with the immature winter squash that are out there? I have several 'baby-size' green ones that I'm not sure about...

Thanks!

Francesca said...

I do hope your ghost plants make it. They are nicely bundled up now!

LizBeth said...

I've never lived anyplace cool enough to drape the tomatoes, but I'm wondering if this might work on cool nights in the summer at our altitude. Tomatoes look beautiful on the outside, but they never fully mature on the inside. Thanks for the pictures. Liz

Nancy M. said...

Very cool ghosts! I can't believe it's going to snow already!

Sadge said...

Hi Carla: You can eat immature winter squash - using them like a firmer, drier zucchini (kinda like a trombocino, if you've ever tried them). Really immature ones won't keep very well at all, so you'll want to refrigerate them. I'd peel and slice them, and saute with onion and garlic, or chop them into soup.

Winter squash that have reached full size but are still green-colored with the skin not completely hardened will sometimes change to their mature color as they cure. The flesh might be a bit watery and not as flavorful as fully mature squash, but they'll keep for quite a while.

I also let my last few zucchini each season grow to club-sized. They'll keep, non-refrigerated but in a cooler place, through at least December. When I get ready to use one of them, I cut off what I want, split it lengthwise and scoop out the seed cavity, then grate or slice the flesh. Once one's been cut, I then refrigerate it, but they'll still keep a couple more weeks if I just slice away the cut edge each time.

Carla said...

Thanks for all that info, Sadge! Just what I needed: there's light frost on the grass this morning - and I see you were right about the snow coming!
Sunny here today, so I'd best get some outdoor work done...