Picked 32 tomatoes last night. Have many more green ones out there. Now if the frost will just hold off for a while I may have home grown tomatoes for Thanksgiving dinner again.
Hooray for the tomatoes!
All my cherry tomato plants have new green growth, blooms and green tomatoes but not many tomatoes have ripened yet...just a few SunGolds and one other plant...and I don't remember what it is.
I hope the frost does hold off for a while.
I do have okra plants and lima bean plants blooming and producing. I watered the lima bean plants all summer and they are making a good crop finally. They're in a large cattle trough (never used for cattle) near the barn. The okra somehow survived in the veggie garden after I stopped watering, blooming sporadically and producing a lone pod here and there. Now that rain has fallen, the okra is blooming a lot and producing multiple pods. Some southern peas survived and have greened up but I don't know if they'll get a chance to bloom and form peas before frost arrives.
Are you expecting your first frost soon? I know there's rumbles of patchy frost in many parts of the state next week, but I personally hope it stays away a little bit longer! Our lowest forecast low for next week here at our place is about 40 degrees, so we shouldn't see even patchy frost. Now, if our low drops to 37 or 38, I do expect patchy light frost, but maybe not a killing frost.
I bet if you cover up the tomatoes on a few cold nights, you can keep them going long enough to have fresh, home-grown tomatoes for Thanksgiving again.
Took a stroll out by the raised tomatoe beds last nite and much to my surprise, I've got lots of tomatoes too!!! Just when I thought I could start cleaning out those beds.....
My Sungold is LOADED! They've ripened so fast they're falling off the vine. Dang it! Peppers are coming on gangbusters! Probably won't have to buy any chili's all winter long! My okra is kaput...as well as my lima's. Only got about 6 qts of breaded okra in the freezer. Right after all that rain back last week, they dropped almost all their leaves. What made them do that?
It likely was the rain. Okra plants don't like very heavy rainfall and often have trouble surviving it. The plants may or may not bounce back and put out new foliage. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't.
Okra doesn't like having wet feet, even if only for a few days, so if you get a lot of rain at once, that can be a problem. I always plant my okra in raised beds to get around the whole wet feet thing since clay drains so slowly, but with your soil, I wouldn't think raised beds are essential for okra....unless you get several inches of rainfall at once.
If the plants are going to bounce back, you should see new leaf growth beginning about 5-10 days after they dropped all their foliage.
Paula, My Clemson Spineless dropped leaves after the 8" of rain we got in Aug. The Stewart's Zeebest kept right on growing, blooming and setting. When DH pulled up the Clemson's they had Root Knot Nematodes pretty badly. I got to thinking about it and they were in a section of the garden that had never been solarized while the Stewart's section had been, although it was 3 years ago I think. (Missed a great opportunity to solarize this year!)
Dawn, There is a possibility of frost this week. I will cover the tomatoes and peppers if it is forecast to be the 38 that right now is predicted in Tulsa. I got the most tomatoes off the Early Girl and Better Boy--several from each--and one each of the Cherokee Purple, Arkansas Traveler and Rutgers. There are lots more out there so hope I can protect them long enough to ripen more.
I have a few tomatoes scattered here and there but I doubt that any will have time to mature. The Sungold is the only one that has continued from Spring to Fall. Nothing seems to stop it, but if left on the vine too long it will split and they seem to have very weak "elbows". When they are mature they will fall off the vine.
FINALLY...two of my pepper plants are producing peppers (they're about an inch long at this point) and my Sunsugar and Black Cherry are producing lots of blooms and fruit, too...I have gotten my covers ready for any frosty situations that may come our way...toward the middle of next week, I think they said. I'm going to coddle these along...cool temps and rain I can handle!
I planted new tomato plants on July 28, and they are producing. I actually put a shield of landscape fabric between the pots and the sun, but I don't know if that helped. Three months from planting purchased plants to putting them on the table, is a long time, but I have no complaints if the will just hurry up and ripen.
I am definitely going to take a chance this year, and plant a few early in case we get some of last year's heat.
To echo everyone else, my tomatoes are loaded. I have tons of tiny green Black Seaman, Red Brandywine, Boxcar Willie, and some type of Roma I can't think of the name of. My Sub Arctic plenty has lots of flowers too. But, with the frost coming, how do I save my tomatoes? I don't own a frost blanket, but would a large sheet of heavy plastic sheeting work?
I made the mistake of putting two rows of three cages pretty close together when I planted--now my cherry tomato has taken over all the cages and is covered with green tomatoes. I also hope the frost holds off. I never got that many tomatoes from it earlier because it got too hot. I think my Eva Purple Ball has a few tomatoes somewhere under there, too.
I would pull some of the others if the cherry wasn't growing in all the cages.
Pisces, we keep a supply of old sheets and moving blankets and use them as frost covers. Our CRW cages are almost 6 ft tall so it may take two or more sheets to cover each cage. And if it is forecast to get very frosty may put two or three layers on. Plastic doesn't work as well as sheets or blankets as it transfers too much cold.
Only 6 out of my 30 original tomato plants are still surviving, despite constant watering all summer. I had VERY few tomatoes this year...Just a few pounds total, from all 30 plants. Most never produced at all before the crazy heat set in.
Now the survivors are LOADED with blossoms, and several are loaded with small tomatoes. Haven't had any ripe ones in months though.
Tonight and tomorrow should be okay (41 and 45), but Wed and Thurs I will be covering with sheets and blankets from the linen closet (31 and 35).
This weather sure makes you work hard for every single tomato. I'm still not sure that any will ripen before a heavy killing frost, but I'm willing to try to keep them alive.
We have a forecast low of 36 for early morning mid-week, so I will be watching carefully and covering up at least the healthiest Sungold tomato plant and maybe the Lima Beans, which are covered with pods that need a few more days to reach maturity. I was hoping for a later freeze since the rain fell and greened up so much, but maybe that's not going to happen. I've been so enjoying watching even the minimal amount of green-up that has occurred since the rain fell and hate to think frost may turn everything brown so early.
Carol, SunGold was my toughest survivor tomato plant. The one at the easternmost edge of my garden kept producing even in July and August in temps around 110-115 and with no irrigation and very little rainfall. It always has been a favorite because of its flavor, but now it is also a fave because of its ability to cope with excessive heat and drought.
I hope everyone's plants survive this first cold and frosty spell.
Sammy, Plants I shade always do better than those left unshaded in the hottest part of the summer. I learned that one year by putting some containers with tomatoes in a place I thought might be too shady, and instead those plants produced the best and much better than plants in full sun from sunup to sundown. Nowadays, I try to get shadecloth up over as many tomato and pepper plants as possible around the time that high temps start hitting and exceeding 100 degrees. I believe it makes a real difference.
Kelly, To echo what Dorothy said, plastic isn't nearly as effective. I have used it if I can suspend it above the foliage where it doesn't touch the foliage, but it also doesn't hold in the heat as well as any sort of textile material. One way you can combat the higher heat loss with plastic is to fill 5-gallon buckets (you can use smaller ones, but the larger they are, the more heat mass you have) with water and place the buckets close to the plants underneath the plastic. The water serves as a solar collector, absorbing heat from the sun all day and releasing heat as the water cools at night. Sometimes the heat released can help keep the plants slightly warmer than the outside air not covered with plastic. Or, for another heat source, you could string Christmas lights among your plants underneath the plastic. This works great with the larger C-9 or C-7 bulbs that make more heat, but not so much with smaller lights. Another method I've used because I've run out of textile material is to pile autumn leaves on top of the plastic. If the plastic is completely covered, the leaves keep the frost off the plastic. If using lights or any other heat source, make sure the heat source doesn't ignite anything flammable.
By the way, if anyone here who's reading this is new to gardening and hasn't covered plants to protect them from frost, remember that patchy frost can form at above-freezing temperatures. I often see frost here at temps in the 33-38 degree range and sometimes at 39 degrees if all the other conditions are right for frost formation.
The forecast I saw this morning is for 31 on Wednesday, so I think I can kiss my garden good-bye. We sometimes stay a few degrees warmer because of the lake, but that is a pretty low forecast. If it was a frost in the forecast I might try to save a few things, but in this case, I probably won't bother. I have hot pepper plants that I haven't picked one pepper from so far, but I have more sweets peppers in the freezer than I can use this winter, and a few hot ones.
The only hab that produced this year was a small white one that someone sent me the seeds for. I am guessing that it is White Bullet. Kind of a funny little pepper. I cut the tip off of one the other night and ate it and it had no heat and a bit of a citrus flavor. Al cut a little more and ate it with the same reaction. An hour later I was cleaning up the kitchen and decided to eat another bite before I threw the rest away, and it set me on fire.
I made Habenaro Gold Jam this morning. It is good but not quite as hot as I would have liked. Sometimes I give up a whole meal just so I can have jelly. There is just nothing that compares to hot pepper jelly and cream cheese on a good slice of homemade bread.
Y'all are going to get too cold! Maybe you will stay a little warmer than the forecast low and your garden will be able to hang on a little longer.
They have raised the forecast for our coldest low temp this week from 36 to 40, so we may get lucky and stay just warm enough to prevent any frost damage.
The hab that produced best for me this year was Chichen Itza. It is the only orange hab I'll plant in the future. My only complaint with any of the white habs is that they produce ridiculously late.
Yummmmmy! Habanero Gold. I found a jar from last year in the pantry last week, way down on a low shelf way back at the back. I must have "misplaced" it by putting stuff in front of it that effectively hid it. I was so excited to find it, but haven't opened it yet. We have a big fire training thing on Sunday and I think I'll use that last jar of Habanero Gold to make Cheddar Thumprints to take for the snack table at the training session. Then, I need to make more. I cannot imagine going without Hab Gold until next year's hab crop.
I have several hot pepper plants that have not produced one pepper this year although the plant is 4 feet tall and beautiful. I have a small plant that macmex gave me seeds for, that he calls Frank's Thai Hot. The peppers grow straight up in the top of the plant. It has lots of green peppers on it but none have turned red. Then I have another plant that is very large, probably has 60 peppers on it now, and many blooms, but I have not picked one pepper from it so far this year. My sweets all produced normally, but the hots have all been slow. This is the group that I have wrapped up, hoping to get a couple more weeks of growth from them if I can protect them for these next three nights.
It hit 29 last night and several of my covers blew off. :(
If I can baby any survivors through tonight, the next 10 days look okay.
Carol, I have had pepper plants produce well into December in pots or in the ground if I cover them up and protect them from frost. I think it would be possible to keep peppers going almost year round here in either a heated high tunnel or an unheated but well-covered low tunnel. I may try that next year. Even when temps around 18-20 degrees have knocked the foliage and peppers off pepper plants overwintering in the garage in pots, those same plants will turn right around and start putting out new leaves within about a week. However, I lose them completely if the temps stay below freezing 24/7 for a couple of days, even though they are in the unheated but well-insulated garage where they stay a few degrees warmer.
Jo, I'm sorry to hear the wind blew your covers off. I was worried about that here, so threw sleeping bags over the bean plants that already were covered with floating row cover. They all look fine, but here the wind mostly died down a little after sunset and didn't pick up enough to blow covers around until a little while ago.
I wish the first frost and freeze could have been extra-late this year instead of extra-early.
I am so gardening-starved that I am toying with the idea of starting tomato seeds indoors on my light shelf around November 1st. I think that's about the time the commercial growers start the seeds of the early tomato plants I buy in mid-February every year. So, I might raise my own early tomato plants this year instead of buying them.
Usually I am too busy with the holidays and fire dept. stuff to grow much indoors under lights at this time of the year, but think I might just have to find time to do it this year.
Are you growing lettuce in the garage this year?
Dawn, In your southern location and with your new greenhouse, I'll bet you could start them earlier inside and move them to the greenhouse early. You might have to provide a little heat on the coldest nights but I would think a light bulb with a metal reflector would provide enough heat to keep them from freezing.
We are discussing what we want to do in the future and I am thinking that I may just buy a hoop bender and use low tunnels for a few years. I want a greenhouse eventually, and could get a small one now, but that is not really what I want. At some point we plan to build a shop building with some loft storage and I want to put a greenhouse on the south side of that building, so I think I will do without a greenhouse until then.
My garden is fairly well protected on all side by buildings. In these lake communities lots are not very large and roads are never straight so houses just kind of face all directions. Many times in the Spring when I am working in the garden, I can hear the wind whipping in the trees, but I am feeling very little of it at ground level. We are on a ridge way above the water level of the lake, but the buildings around my garden kind of protect it. A block from me on the waterfront, the wind whips the boat houses and blows the blades out of the ceiling fan on the back porch of some of the houses. It would be nice to have a greenhouse so I could work inside and enjoy the sunshine in the winter months, but I am holding off on that.
You must be reading my mind though because just a couple of hours ago I was looking at the Greenhouse and calculating how many large containers I could line up in there along the north side. Then, I could put the early tomato containers in there lined up along that wall and save the southernmost wall for greenhouse shelves filled with flower, herb and veggie seedlings. My plan is to start seedlings indoors where I can control their heat and light and then move them out to the greenhouse to grow on as the season progresses. I won't have to worry about the wind beating them to death and I won't have to carry flats of plants inside and out, although I will have to run a heater on cold nights.
My big fear all year with the greenhouse has been that it would burn down in a wildfire this summer after I'd waited for so many years to build one. We had to put it on flat land and I wanted it near the water faucet and electricity, so it is only about 4 feet from the adjoining property to the south, and that property includes 45 acres of overgrown pairie pasture interspersed with oodles of cedars. A small portion of that property burned during the summer, and as we were being dispatched to that fire, I could smell the smoke and see the flames from my back porch steps and turned on a sprinkler to keep the fire away from the greenhouse. Fortunately, the firefighters got that fire out very quickly and I was able to return home in just a few minutes and turn off the sprinkler.
A couple of months later another fire slightly more westward put out a huge smoke plume that terrified me because from the fire station, it looked like our place was burning. Luckily the wind was carrying it away from us but I knew if the wind changed, my greenhouse would be blackened ash and soot. I tell ya]ou, when a friend calls and says "is that fire at your house?" it sure gets your attention, and we had phone calls like that at least 3 separate times so far this year.
If I had a better place to put the greenhouse further away from a big, dry pasture, I would have put it there, but we have so little flat land that is not covered in trees, and it did not seem advisable to build a greenhouse on a steeply sloping area. lol
For the first time since we moved here, I'm seriously considering clearing out all the trees that are close to the house and the yard/garden just north of the house in an area thats about 300' long and maybe 30 or 40 feet wide. Maybe not this winter, but next winter. We still would have at least 10 acres of woodland, and I'd love to be able to build a bigger greenhouse on flatter land. We'll see how it goes with this greenhouse first, but even Tim is saying "When we build the next greenhouse....." we'll do this or that, so I am not the only person thinking that one greenhouse will not be enough.
I have a hoop bender on my Santa Claus list (see how much you and I think alike!), and I know I'll get it because Santa always brings what I put on the list. Then, OkieTim and I can spend late Dec. or early Jan. building low tunnels for all the garden beds. I hope to be able to plant onions, potatoes, edible podded peas and other cool-season crops in those low tunnels. At least then I won't have to worry as much about late-season snowfall or hard frosts and late freezes. This year the floating row covers worked incredibly well at protecting the entire garden from late freezes in latest April and earliest May, but it was tedious to go out there and spend a couple of hours covering up every row. If I already had low tunnels in place, I could pull back the row cover material when I wanted and leave it over the hoops the rest of the time. It just would be so much more efficient.
At least we have pretty decent wind protection here. It is provided by the adjacent woodlands on three sides, and of course some areas near the house, barn, potting shed and chicken coops have addition blocking of the wind provided by the buildings. The only real unprotected area faces east, and we get wind from the east less than we get it from any other direction. Sometimes I think it isn't very windy when I am at home, but then if we drive a mile east or two miles north, I suddenly discover it is very windy. Is it almost comical because it catches me by surprise so often and reminds me how sheltered our location is.
The other gardening thing that tricks me sometimes is that I overseed the lawn with rye grass seed, so everything in the yard is lush and lovely. I just look at it and marvel at how pretty that green looks. You can almost forget it is fall or winter. Then, we leave and drive through miles of dormant pasture land and I have to return to reality because there isn't much green out there.
Dawn, Do you plant annual rye? We always seem to be thinking the same thing at the same time. LOL I'm sending you an emal.
All of my tomatoes are dead. Even the ones that stayed covered through the night. Sigh. I guess it just got too cold for sheets and light blankets to do any good.
I feel especially bad because I totally babied Gary's trial tomatoes and watered them faithfully all summer long. And now I have to tell him that out of 13 plants, I got 5 tomatoes all year. :(
Light sheets didn't do it for us last night either, although it did Tues nite. I didn't pick enough tomatoes yesterday and now don't know if the five walmart sacks full I picked are any good or not. I did stick a potted tomato that I dug up near where the Black Cherries were last year a couple weeks ago into the greenhouse and even though there is still no door on it, the tomato looks ok. This time next year I plan to have tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and summer squash growing in pots in there.
I plant annual rye because it is cheaper than perennial, and the perennial really isn't perennial in our climate anyway, but it has some advantages over annual. Both annual and perennial rye grass tend to die out here sometime in May, depending on how early the really hot weather arrives, but by then the bermuda grass is gearing up for the season. Perennial has finer blades so it looks more refined, especially later in the cool season, and it usually gives quicker and more consistent germination. However, annual rye tends to be all I find here in the stores which pretty much makes the decision for me.
The recommended time to plant is September, but we were still hitting highs near and in the 100s here in September so I waited until just before the October rainfall was forecast to hit. It germinated well, is up growing thick and lush and I'm mowing at least twice a week. I have planted as late as the end of October or early November and had pretty good germination, but if the weather is already pretty cold, you may get erratic germination over a period of weeks or months from a late planting.
Got your e-mail (as you know) and now we're e-mailing back and forth. We think alike because we were separated a birth, dear sister. lol
Jo, Y'all must have gotten pretty cold there. I am sorry your plants died. Gary is a professional horticulturalist, so I am sure he'll understand about the trial tomatoes. After all, he had to endure the same weather conditions you had there.
Dorothy, I think Wed. night got a lot colder than many of us expected. Our Mesonet station went 4 or 5 degrees colder than the forecast, but on Thursday night it was 4 or 5 degrees higher than forecast. Our weather is just all over the place this week.
Next year I plan to have everything going in the greenhouse too. All my gardening activity got so sidetracked by the fire season and drought. The greenhouse frame is just sitting there naked looking at me and saying "I thought you wanted me?" We've been afraid to put the greenhouse plastic on while wildfires were so common. Now that all the fire activity has calmed down, I hope to get the greenhouse plastic put up over the frame in the next week or two. All we need is a fairly wind-free day on a day when we are at home to get it done.
I may dig up a couple of cherry tomato and pepper plants tomorrow to overwinter. I need something in pots to play around with in the winter.