Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Last Harvests?

The weatherman was not my friend over the weekend. Our average low for this time of year is about 29F. Enough for the nights to freeze, but to have everything defrost in the sunlight. Fall crops grow well if protected from the freeze-thaw cycle with row covers. However we had been experiencing lows that were about 10F above that. We even had one day where the low was 50F. Things grow fabulously in this weather.

I was thinking I would have fresh lettuce on Thanksgiving. Then the weatherman said the weather pattern was changing. Cold was coming in. We might even have a low in the teens this week. Ack! This is 10F below average and too cold to keep things alive even with the row covers. I'd need a good cold frame to keep my plants growing in this weather. The ground could freeze solid for the year if the weather pattern doesn't break.

So Sunday I went out and harvested the root vegetables: carrots and leeks. I wanted them out of the soil before a total freeze over. Some of the carrots were huge, 1 1/2" in diameter at the top. There were also a lot of deformed ones. I'm guessing nementodes. I perpared the bed exceedly well. I didn't even need a shovel to dig them out. Just pull the tops and out they come. The leeks had both the small and the large. The largest was about 1" in diameter; the smallest was about pencil sized.

Today at noon I decided to go out and pick whatever elese might be ready. The sun doesn't hit the garden until about 1pm so nothing was defrosted. Moisture had condensed on the underside fo the plastic row cover during the previous day. Overnight it had frozen. So as I pulled the cover off, shards of ice flaked off.

The bunching onions were half frozen as was the bok choi. I picked them anyway. I hope they weren't frozen too much to defrost well. The lettuce seemed remarkable unfrozen. I picked most of it. I don't need it yet. I still haven't finished what I picked last week, but with lows in the mid to low 20s and highs in the mid 30s, they won't last very long. I left five plants just in case they survive the cold snap.

Everything else I left. Unless the weather changes back to warm weather, this was probably my last harvest in the garden. No more excitement until the seed catalogs arrive. I can't wait. And speaking of seeds, I have way too many parsly and dill seeds. More than I'll need for next year. If anyone wants some, email me. I'd be happy to ship some out.


  1. Oh yummy! We didn't plant nearly enough carrots this year. I had forgotten how wonderful and sweet they are fresh from the garden.

  2. I feel your pain....My forecast tonight is 21 degrees, and I have all kinds of stuff in the garden. This is not supposed to happen, it only gets this cold in January/February where I live. I'll most likely lose my snow peas, turnips, and potatoes, but hopefully my broccoli, carrots, and cabbage makes it. I'm not worried about my collards....they're good all the way down to 10 - 15 degrees. It's still a bummer, though.


  3. I read about a new row cover strategy on the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners website http://www.mofga.org/Default.aspx?tabid=833
    It might work for your lettuce? I wish I'd read it BEFORE i yanked the last of the chard....


  4. It's been getting pretty cold down our way too - not quite that cold yet, but enough to kill anything we had that wasn't brought inside. Wahoo for the carrots and leeks, I think I am going to plant leeks next year, I love them. I'd plant carrots, but all we have access to is a container garden and community garden plot, and I fear they would take up too much space for us to be able to plant much else. I wish I didn't have to worry about squash bugs in the community garden, or I'd plant tons of different kinds of winter squash, but with the infestation we got this year (and the fact that a lot of people abandon their plots), we're probably just going to plant one butternut. We thought about trying a buttercup on our porch in a container, but I'm not sure there will be room with all the peppers we want to grow. See, you've already got me dreaming of next year's garden!

  5. Hi Daphne that looks very nice, to harvest carrots and leek in November that is not bad! I was so lucky this morning when I harvest one! Bulgarian Chilie pepper on my veranda, she was so pretty./ Tyra

  6. Amy: Yes so tasty especially after it has been so cold.

    EngineeredGarden: I keep thinking if I planted kale I would still have things living in a couple of weeks. Collards just don't make it for me though. They are OK but not my favorite of veggies.

    Henbogle: I hadn't thought about doing two layers. That would probably help.

    Jennifer: I feel your pain with the squash bugs. The nasties in my garden are the squash vine borers. I really would love to plant more squash. And it is time to start dreaming about next year. What else is there to do in the cold?

    Tyra: Well a chili pepper is such a treat, though I've never grown that kind.

  7. Those carrots look really good, Daphne. I didn't plant any this year, but you've reminded me how tasty fresh from the garden carrots are.
    Here in Illinois the veggie gardens are done for the year, too; actually mine was done over a month ago:)
    I might take you up on that offer of parsley!