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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Frost Warning

Prefrost peppers and eggplant

Got back from the farmers market Saturday afternoon with every intention of relaxing for the rest of the day (farmers markets really take it out of you) but than realized that the weather prophets had issued a frost warning for Sunday morning. That meant we had to do something about what was left of the summer garden. The tomatoes and eggplant are pretty much over except the late tomatoes that in theory are in a hoop house but in fact are not (they have a hoop house frame over them but no plastic on the frame as Eugene did not want to dig in the plastic knowing that he would in all likelihood move the house to another crop such as broccoli or kale) but we had a lot of peppers.

The (probably) last pepper harvest. That's around 400 pounds of bell peppers

I have been picking the peppers green with just a bit of color all summer. I have discovered that peppers, like tomatoes, will ripen up off the plant just fine. And by harvesting them early, the peppers do not get hit badly by bugs or disease. Instead of losing 50% to 80% of the peppers when left on the plant to ripen I now lose under 25%.

So it is now around 3pm. We have eaten lunch, unloaded the van and put away everything from market and most weeks we would be preparing for a nice afternoon nap. But as i mentioned, the weather service was predicting frost Sunday morning. So we had to forgo the nap and go back to work. We started with the peppers. we took out 6 crates and piled them high with mainly green peppers. That took about an hour with both of us working.

Next we were on to the green beans and haricot verts. They needed to be harvested than covered with row cover. We got under 5 pounds of beans from both beds.

Next the spring mix and beets beds needed to be covered. That took very little time as the covers were already there. They just needed to be pulled over the hoops and secured with rocks. But we realized the broccoli also needed a cover. Granted, all these crops can take cold conditions but they do so much better if they have protection. So Eugene found a cover for the broccoli and put it over top of them.

Freshly harvested ginger

While he did that I harvested the ginger. Yes we decided to try to grow ginger in SW Ohio. And it worked decently. But ginger does not like temps below 50F (the poor plants had to deal with a lot of nights in the mid 40's). I figured 33F would kill them so I decided to dig them up and bring them inside. Now we have a lot of ginger plants that need more time in the ground to make more ginger. And we have about 4 ounces of finished ginger. While I like the idea of local ginger I think it makes a lot more sense to buy the imported stuff if you use a lot of ginger. Because ginger requires a 10 to 12 month growing season and needs to temps to be above 50F (I suspect 85F is where is it happiest) it makes no sense to grow this on any kind of commercial scale here in Ohio. I believe the carbon foot print of doing so would far out weight the carbon foot print of importing it since a lot of heat would be required in winter and that heat would have to be more than passive solar. That said it is great house plant. It is beautiful, smells good and if you can keep the plant alive (which is pretty easy) for more than a year you can harvest your own ginger and divide the rest of the roots to make more ginger plants.

So at dusk we had the garden ready for frost. We were exhausted and went in the house to eat and eventually go to sleep-nothing like a 12 hour day of hard physical work to make you feel tip top. The next morning I get up and find that the low temp is no where near freezing, it is 37F.

Now we are ready for cold weather in the market garden. Bring it on Nature, bring it on.

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