Jack Frost

Autumn is descending upon the garden and its shepherd Jack Frost has tiptoed through to see what he wants to steal. So far Frost has only nipped the tops of the most exposed plants – the gourds, squash, and cucumbers. The rest of the garden has not been hit, at least as of last weekend.

Because of the delay in setting fruit this year, the tomato and tomatillo plants have lots of fruit on them. We harvested what was most ripe over the weekend and a few green tomatoes for gluten-free fried green tomatoes, but that left a lot to fend for itself. The general weather pattern in the fall is that an early frost comes, kills the plants, then gets reasonably nice for a few weeks. We are hoping the first frost was the only one we will have for a couple more weeks so some of the remaining tomatoes, tomatillos, and peppers will ripen. I know this will be slow because it is getting chilly at night even though it is nice during the day.

In anticipation of a killing frost the hot peppers and some of the annual herbs have been dug-up and moved south for the winter. The habanero and serrano peppers are re-blossoming, the ghost pepper is growing again (Yikes!), and most of the herbs are doing well. This will buy us a few months before frost threatens us here and the plants have to be covered or moved inside. Moving the plants created instant gardens when they were moved into their winter digs.

Fall also means we have been busy preserving some of the crop. Lots of chilies have been roasted and frozen, dilly beans have been made (more on those after we taste them), and there are jars of salsa verde around along with the habanero and ghost pepper hot sauce. The shallots have been replanted, onions have been dried, and the sweet potatoes are curing as I type. The apples have been mixed with lots of good things and frozen with a crumb topping for apple crisps later in the fall.

I will wait until a killing frost comes through before harvesting the horseradish. I am also going to try mulching the beets this year for harvest up through Thanksgiving. Hopefully these warm days will spur a bit of growth.

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