Saturday, October 22, 2005

late season gardening

We are still harvesting ripe tomatoes. It got down to 20 degrees this morning, and yet under several layers of plastic it felt quite warm and tomatoes were still blooming and ripening.

I'm a big fan of Eliot Coleman and his "Four Season Harvest" concept of gardening. I think it has great potential here, and I would like to hear from anyone in Minnesota who has actually tried some of his extended harvest/crop protection methods. This is the first year that I have thought to do anything like plant a second crop of lettuce and other greens, and the first year that I (actually The Hermit) has employed hoop houses to extend the season on tomatoes.

However, that is where The Hermit and I differ. He seems to think that no tomato is to be wasted, and as long as we can maintain above-freezing temperatures in the hoop houses, the tomato harvest must continue. Me, I'm pretty much tomatoe'd out. I appreciate a good slicer, even this time of year, but the thought of having fifty or so more pounds to can just tires me at this point. Enough is enough. We've had a great season, and a great harvest, but it must end some time. But for now, as long as he does the covering and the harvest, I still have fresh tomatoes here at 46 degrees north latitude.

Still I'm intrigued by the concept, and if I wasn't so overwhelmed by other things at this point I might really be motivated to do something with this information. As soon as I get that digital camera next payday, I'm going to take pictures of the tomatoes thriving in their little beds. It might make a good article for Countryside or some other publication.

I did, however, transplant some lettuce, spinach and arugula into one of the potato beds that we harvested. It is just the right size to put two window panes over and make a cold frame. Maybe we'll be having fresh salads to celebrate the Winter Solstice. Maybe.

It was a good day to be gardening, although it was chilly, not topping 50 all day. We also had our first wood stove fire. We've had the kerosene heater on on chilly nights, but it takes a bit more work to build and maintain a fire in the stove. I love the warmth though. That stove has been our lifeline in the last three winters.

In other news, my brother called this morning. The funeral is on Wednesday. He asked if I wanted to have a part in the service, and I said I thought Mom would have wanted to hear me play flute, so I will. I can do it; I played "Amazing Grace" at my grandpa and my uncle Kermit's funerals, and it's the least I can do for this one.

My dad also called; it was good to hear from him. He sounds like he's doing okay as possible under the circumstances; he was going to go for a bike ride this afternoon. Biking is his thing. For the last 25 years, he has biked seven miles to work and back when weather permitted, usually March-October, and at least one longer bike ride on weekends. More power to him. I hope he had a good ride today; he deserves it.


TroutGrrrl said...

I can't imagine summoning the strength to get through Amazing Grace on the flute in this situation. You must be a lot stronger than I. I'll be thinking of you and your family and your warm tomatoes.

Rexroth's Daughter said...

We're doing late season gardening here on the Olympic Peninsula 48 N latitude. We don't get persistent freezes like Minnesota, but average winter temps are in the 30s and 40s. We're hoping for over-wintering of spinach, kale, broccoli, and garlic. We're experimenting with cloche gardening outside, and with tomatoes and basil in our sunroom in the house.
When my father died 13 years ago, I wanted to speak at the memorial service, but when the time came for me to open my mouth I could not say a word without crying. I wish you a calm heart and composure when you bring your flute to your lips.