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One of the Joys of Maturity


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October 29, 2020

One of the joys of getting a bit older is having the time to putter around in the garden. Below is my garden blog. This site also contains sections of recipes and features about specific, and often obscure, gardening lore.


Thursday, October 29, 2020

Goliath broccoli head blooming, going to seed

Row of Goliath broccoli beginning to bloomSeed pods on Goliath broccoli plantI started working on saving broccoli seed last season. My efforts were unsuccessful then, but I learned from the experience. It takes a long season or overwintering broccoli to produce seed. And one has to have two or more broccoli plants in bloom at the same time, as they require cross pollination to produce good seed.

This year, I planted a whole row of Goliath broccoli for seed saving. While the plants didn't all bloom at the same time, there was enough overlap in their blooming to produce viable seed.

After a long period of pretty yellow blooms, small, slender seed pods began to form. Over a couple of months, the pods matured adding length and a little diameter. The longest pods we got were just under two inches long with most being an inch or less.

Gauging when to pick the seed pods wasn't easy. Our first plants that bloomed began to shed seed from their pods, letting me know I'd waited too long to pick the stems.

I kept the pods on their stems in a brown paper grocery bag in our basement. As more plants matured pods, I added them to the bag.

I experimented yesterday trying to thresh the seed by banging it around in the bag and in a bucket. I didn't release much seed. I also tried picking the pods off the stems and opening them one by one. I quickly realized that process would take forever. So I set the task aside and did a little online research on harvesting broccoli seed.

Broccoli seed pods on plant stemPicking, or snipping with scissors as I did, the broccoli seed pods turns out to be a good way to begin separating ones broccoli seed. The snipping should be done over some collection plate, bowl, or tray, as some seed will spontaneously drop out of the pods. I filled a couple of paper plates with seed pods.

Trimmed seed podsTo release the seed I pushed down with my fingers on piles of the seed pods. Some of the seed still stuck to the pods, so I set the project aside once again to allow a little more drying (and possibly thought).

I started a germination test with ten of the seeds collected yesterday. I'd also tested some seed in potting mix when I cut the plants in July. That resulted in several young broccoli plants, which told me my seed is probably good.

Celery soakingRenee's GardenThis whole process may seem to be an awful lot of work to go through for just a little seed. It is! But what I'm trying to do is to save a discontinued strain of Goliath broccoli that has grown extremely well for us over the years. Similarly named strains from other vendors just haven't done as well for us. And of course, there may be some adaptation of the variety to our particular growing conditions, a plus that sometimes occurs with seed saving of many open pollinated vegetable seeds.

While waiting for the local news and weather to come on TV tonight, I realized that it probably was going to freeze tonight. I still had one celery plant in our main raised bed, so I went out a quickly dug it with a trowel.

Once inside, I let the celery soak a bit before trimming off its base and leaves. While not as pretty as grocery celery, it made a fairly nice celery heart. And, it was grown without any pesticides being sprayed on it. As I cut off the leaves, a spider did run out of the celery!

Our celery plants this year, all two of them that made it into the garden, were again the Ventura variety grown from seed from the Turtle Tree Seed Initiative.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

After an incredibly dry summer, we are now having lots of rainy days. I had a big bunch of boxes I had been waiting to burn until things were reasonably wet and county burn orders were lifted. That time came this afternoon between showers! Depending on which nearby Weather Underground reporting station you consult, we've had either 2.67 or 4.37 inches of rain so far this month. With our rain gauge down for the winter, I just have to guess our total by looking at the sites and at buckets and our garden cart outside.

Getting the boxes out of the garage had become a priority. They were occupying the space where I drag our mower deck for service and storage while the lawn tractor is hooked up to our pull-type tiller. Once the tiller is mounted, that will clear the way to back our truck into our garage and load all the remaining butternuts to go to the food bank.

I did reserve about a dozen butternuts for our use. I picked four squash that I thought were the best looking and labeled them for possible seed saving. Since butternuts are heavy, I put them into a couple of heavy burlap bags for storage in our basement. While I still have one or two used bags, I'm now down to just two new, unused burlap bags from the last dozen we bought in 2014. Over the years, we've stored potatoes, sweet potatoes, and squash in the bags.

Habitat for Humanity

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Our Senior Garden - October 24, 2020With a curing table full of butternuts, I've been thinking a lot lately about squash. Mainly, I've been thinking about when to load them up and deliver most of them to our local food bank. But I've also considered saving seed from a few of the squash. Anything I save could be a cross between the Waltham Butternut and South Anna Butternut Squash varieties we grew. But there were also pumpkins growing nearby, so we could get some crossing from them as well.

With such thoughts on my mind, a Grassroots Seed Network newsletter came in yesterday. It promoted a short, but informative article, Saving and Curing Squash Seeds with Will Bonsall. A gem for me in the article was that "some fruits – notably squash and pumpkins – will continue to ripen their seeds AFTER harvest, provided they’re kept in the fruit." Bonsall also concludes with a reminder that seeds from "summer squashes like zucchini are still unripe at the edible stage. They must be allowed to get all overgrown and hard, which of course ruins them for eating."

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Thursday, October 22, 2020

Weather Underground extended forecastHardware WorldWe had a gorgeous fall day today. It was mostly sunny with a high temperature of 80 and a good breeze. As I write this evening, I have a window open in our sunroom with a fan turned on in the office bringing in the cool evening air. From our extended weather forecast, I'm guessing this is the last time we'll have windows open for some time.

I got a big job out of the way this afternoon. I cleared all the rest of our tomato cages, plants, and T-posts from our East Garden plot. I use a pair of pruning shears to trim off parts of the tomato plants that have grown outside their cages, as they prevent easily pulling the cage out of the ground. Once pruned, I pull the cage up and away from the plant. Then I pull the plants, moving them to our compost pile.

East Garden plot cleared

Tomato and pepper cages stored for the winterCompost pileThe twelve tomato cages pulled along with four pepper cages went to a corner of the field where I store them for the winter. That's not an ideal situation, but the cages don't telescope or get smaller in any way, and that's the only spot I have to store them. Joining previously pulled tomato and pepper cages, I was glad today that I could push the cages a bit into the ground. Before our recent rains, the ground was like cement.

Possibly the hardest part of today's job was removing the T-posts I use to keep top heavy tomato cages from blowing over. I had to dig most of the posts out using a heavy garden fork. While we received some good rain this week, the heavy clay soil was bone dry about four inches down.

Too late lettuceWalmartOne other job of the day was pulling a lot of dead flowers from our raised beds. They all got a new home on our compost pile. I did leave one very healthy looking petunia plant, as it just might bloom again.

I didn't take pictures of the East Garden until this evening. As I came in, I passed a tray with what was supposed to be our fall lettuce. Somehow, I didn't get it started early enough or it didn't grow fast enough. If I had the energy, I could transplant it now and keep it covered with a cold frame or floating row cover. But I'm pretty low on energy these days, and I'm actually a little tired of gardening for this season.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Our Senior Garden - October 21, 2020Hoss Tools and SeedsWe've received a little over two inches of rain so far this week! And more rain is possible over the weekend. Coming off a very dry summer, the rain should help replenish the local water table. We also have one tree in our front yard that isn't at all healthy that the rain may help.

Beyond picking three tomatoes and a dozen or so beets yesterday, I haven't done much gardening of late. Jobs remaining to be done this season include clearing the last of our tomato cages, pulling the dead plants from our main raised bed, and getting all of our garden plots rototilled. And of course, there's garlic to be planted.

The beets I picked yesterday finally got processed this afternoon. There weren't many of them, but they got turned into a small batch of Harvard beets using A Taste of Home recipe. Yum!

David's Cookies

Friday, October 16, 2020

Row of tomato plants in East Garden
The last of our 2020 tomatoes

Well and truly dead tomato plantIt didn't get quite as cold this morning as was predicted, but it was cold enough to kill our row of tomato plants in our East Garden plot. There may still be a few good tomatoes to be harvested, but it will only be a few. If I liked fried green tomatoes, I'd be in tomato heaven, but I don't.

Any plants that may have partially survived this morning's frost will probably get zapped tomorrow morning. It's predicted to get down to 31° F then. Fortunately, we have a few lovely, ripe tomatoes to last us for the next week. After that, my wife says she'll stop eating tomatoes until next year's crop comes in.

Trump/Pence sign
Biden/Harris sign

I have a little space to fill here to make things come out right, so I'll tell a tale of what we're politically seeing around Sullivan, Indiana, these days.

When I drove into town a couple of times this week, I kept an eye out for presidential political signs. Four years ago, the roadway was lined with Trump/Pence signs. I never understood that, as Mike Pence was one of the worst governors Indiana has ever had, and Trump was, well, Trump. But this week, there were almost no signs for the Trump/Pence team or the Biden/Harris team. On one trip, I counted just one each of the opposing presidential candidates. A later trip with a different route revealed two more Biden/Harris signs.

I wondered if our county political teams were getting financially tapped out or just plain worn out. But the absence of the once plentiful Trump/Pence signs indicates to me that folks around here are worn out with our current President's lies and mismanagement of our country's challenges.

Yeah, just my two cents worth. But even if you differ from my political views, keep that mask on when you're out and around and stay safe.

Our porch plants fared far better than our tomato plants. I'd made sure they were all hanging from their hooks around the porch instead of in the pans and trays I use to water them on the porch itself. Getting them up in the air a bit, and probably under the roof that leaks a good bit of warm air, allowed most of them to survive the frost. A lovely vinca plant we've enjoyed all summer may have gotten nipped by the frost.

Porch plants 1

Porch plants 2

I got myself back into computer hell few weeks ago when making tomato purée. I didn't close my laptop and splashed tomato juice onto the trackpad. Bad things ensued with the computer putting up all sorts of applications without me doing anything. It eventually corrupted a partition on the hard drive. So...

Progress bar
High Sierra screen

"New" fifteen inch Macbook Pro...Thinking that the laptop was trashed, I ordered a replacement laptop with a fifteen inch screen to replace the old thirteen inch model. While my cataract surgery last year restored 20/20 distance vision, reading small print is another thing altogether. The laptop was an old model, but it runs my favorite Mac operating system, Snow Leopard, along with a fairly new OS, High Sierra. Of course, after the new-to-me laptop arrived, and I'd pulled the RAM and hard drive out of the old one and done a thorough cleaning of it, the old laptop began to behave well again!

Rather than cloning an operating system and files from backups on the "new" laptop , I chose to start clean with this machine. I had a devil of a time getting an operating system installed on it, resorting to using a third party installer DVD. Since then, it's been hours and hours of watching download, update/upgrade, and installer progress bars as I got the new machine set up. But it's nearly done. I'm hoping it will be several more years, if I have that time, before I have to do it again.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Low temperatures of 27° and 32° F are predicted for tomorrow and Saturday mornings. With a very light mist outside, I picked grape and regular tomatoes today. If the freezing temperature prediction for tomorrow morning holds true, the tomatoes I picked today will probably be the last we get. The grape tomatoes and some peppers I'd picked earlier this week went to our local food bank. Full size, homegrown tomatoes will soon become pretty rare, so I kept them for our use.

By noon today, we had received just 0.07 inches of rain, bringing our October total precipitation to 0.25 inches. Our September and August totals were 0.33" and 1.77", respectively. Obviously, we're in an end of the season drought. The Seasonal Drought Outlook shown below looks pretty grim for much of the nation. The only crop we'll have after the frost/freeze is our kale, but our lawn and trees sure could use some rain.

Drought Information
U.S. Drought Monitor
United States Weekly Drought Monitor
U.S. Monthly Drought Outlook
United States Monthly Drought Outlook
U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook
United States Seasonal Drought Outlook
Click on the title or the graphic (above) to access the
U.S. Weekly Drought Monitor
Click on the title or the graphic (above) to access the
U.S. Monthly Drought Outlook
Click on the title or the graphic (above) to access the
U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook

Note that the images above automatically update with each Thursday's new release of data.

Charity: Water

Monday, October 12, 2020

Our Senior Garden - October 12, 2020Butternut squash "yams"Things have cooled off here today with a high temperature in the lower 70s before a cool front blew in. It's now a blustery 61° F outside with a bit of mist and occasional rain. One local forecast calls for a 90% chance of rain...with zero precipitation! While our remaining crops, tomatoes and kale, could use a good rain, our lawn and trees probably need some moisture even more.

Being pretty lazy today, I didn't really garden any. On a whim, I started to peel a South Anna Butternut Squash, a new OSSI variant of the old, dependable Waltham Butternut squash we've grown for years. While our Walthams produced a bumper crop of squash with very long necks, the South Annas produced a lesser amount of more compact squash.

When cutting up the South Anna butternut, I immediately noticed that the variety had a much smaller seed cavity than Walthams. The flesh of the squash was extremely firm. The squash got cut up and covered with brown sugar, marshmallows, and a bit of nutmeg and baked to make what is often a Thanksgiving treat of butternut "yams."

I continue working a little at a time on cleaning up our garden plots. I pulled our Earliest Red Sweet pepper plants over the weekend and also mowed the butternut squash area in our East Garden plot. I'll eventually rototill the East Garden and seed it to hairy winter vetch.

Sam's Club

Friday, October 9, 2020

Small truckload of pumpkinsOur Fathers Arms (Sullivan, Indiana)It was out with the pumpkins and in with the butternuts today. I cleared our drying/curing table of pumpkins to make room for butternut squash. The pumpkins went on the truck to our local food bank. Only a few of the pumpkins were of carving size, probably due to the two mini-droughts we experienced this growing season. But the smaller ones might make for some nice decorations. We have one on either side of our front door.

I'd left fifty or so butternut squash on the ground in our East Garden to cure a bit. I wanted to pull the butternut and pumpkin vines today, but the squash were laying on the vines. So once the pumpkins were off the curing table, I moved the butternuts onto the table.

Our small butternut patch produced around eighty to ninety good butternuts. Some of the butternuts had extremely long necks, something we've not had before.

Drying/curing table loaded with butternut squash

Celery heartFruit BouquetsThe bulk of the butternuts will eventually go to the food bank. We'll keep eight or ten of them for our winter use. And a son-in-law has already put in his order for a half dozen of the squash.

I cut and brought in a celery plant today. It was small and hadn't blanched much from the paper sack and dirt I'd hilled up around it. It's flavor was extremely strong celery, but not bitter.

Growing celery is something relatively new for me. I've tried growing celery only a couple of times in the past. Although small, this is the best celery I've grown.

The Bad News

Drought Monitor for Indiana - October 8, 2020US Drought Monitor - October 8, 2020We're still in Covid-19 trouble here in Indiana. Despite Governor Eric Holcomb's television ads telling us how well he's protected us from the Coronavirus, today's headline of Indiana reports single-day record 1,800 new COVID-19 cases tells a different story. With the Governor having rapidly moved to open up businesses, the virus continues to thrive in this state despite Holcomb's lies.

Lying politicians of both parties are nothing new. But when saying it's okay to visit bars and restaurants when such exposure has proven to be life threatening is pretty much criminal.

Our area has also fallen into the "moderate drought" category according to the United States Drought Monitor's Thursday report. I really think their determination is a bit late for our area, as things have been bone dry for months.

Since we're past the main part of our growing season, this drought or mini-drought, the third of this season, won't have that much of an impact on our crops. I did, however, hear our deep well pump straining to find water this week.

The Home Depot

Thursday, October 8, 2020 - I Voted Today

Our Senior Garden - October 8, 2020I Voted Early stickerWe have wonderful weather today. It's sunny and eighty degrees with a slight breeze. Even so, my only gardening for the day was filling an eight quart bucket with small peppers. Our recent frost took six of our seven Earliest Red Sweet pepper plants.

Without doing much gardening, I still feel a sense of accomplishment for the day. When in town, I stopped by the county courthouse and voted. Bless their hearts, the voting folks moved the voting site down from the third floor clerk's office to the first floor. The folks working the voting site related that they'd had a steady flow of voters coming through since voting began on Tuesday.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Narrow raised bed cleared of tomato plants, cages, and mulchToday's tomatoesI took out our narrow bed of Earlirouge tomato plants today. While the tomato plants in our East Garden plot are still alive and producing lots of nice tomatoes, our recent frost killed the more exposed Earlirouge plants. But even having been killed by the frost, the Earlirouges yielded a nice picking of ripe and nearly ripe tomatoes.

The cleanup involved trimming off branches that grew outside the tomato cages, pulling and cleaning the cages of tomato trash, pulling the T-posts that anchored the cages, and raking up the grass clipping mulch that had suppressed weeds and retained what little moisture was in the soil. The tomato plants, unusable tomatoes, and mulch went onto our compost pile.

There's no way Annie and I can consume so many tomatoes, but our local food bank and Annie's co-workers are sure enjoying the late in the season tomatoes.

I might even can another batch of whole tomatoes.

Butternut squash cut todayAnother view of part of the lovely squash cut todayAfter a lunch of a grilled cheese sandwich and a glass of whole milk, I forced myself back outside to cut butternut squash off the vines. The vines were all killed by frost, so getting these butternuts at least cut allowed me to gather them to cure a bit. With warm, dry weather predicted for the next few days, I left the squash on the ground as our curing table is still full of pumpkins and previously picked squash. I ended up cutting over fifty ripe and nearly ripe squash with another dozen green ones going to our compost pile.

We'll only keep eight or ten of the squash for our winter use. The rest will go to our local food bank where they're a great hit just before Thanksgiving. Butternut squash make a great substitute for sweet potatoes cooked in brown sugar with marshmallows.

Once I get the squash loaded on the truck and off to the food bank, I'll pull and compost the squash vines as best as I can. I'll mow the area and let the clippings dry before tilling the East Garden and seeding it to hairy winter vetch.

I purposely mentioned whole milk above as a reference to my youth. In high school and college, I worked at an Indianapolis retail dairy, Roberts Milk Company. That job pretty much paid for my college education, as my parents were tapped out from my older brother and sister's college expenses. During those years, I became a bit of a milk snob, only liking the freshest milk with the highest butterfat content possible.

During my farming years, we bought true whole milk, the kind that has cream on the top, from a neighbor who milked a few Jersey and Guernsey cows. From those years, I developed an aversion to 2% and skim milk. Luckily, my aging body still tolerates my preferences in milk.

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Monday, October 5, 2020 - First Frost

First Frost on our Senior Garden - October 5, 2020A2 Web HostingWe did indeed get our first frost this morning. I managed to drag myself out of bed and get a few shots of the frost before the sun burnt it off. (I do love sleeping in on cold mornings.) I probably won't be able to assess the level of frost damage until later today or tomorrow. Leaves and stems that have frozen and then thawed often take a few hours or a day to wilt.

Checking nearby Weather Underground reporting stations, it seems morning low temperatures varied from around 29° to 34° F. At either end, those temperatures are low enough to produce a frost.

Plants with heavy foliage might survive the above freezing temperatures. But most of our flowers (geraniums, petunias, vinca) in our garden plots have probably been zapped. I'm guessing that our tomatoes and peppers will be frost damaged as well, making my heavy picking yesterday seem prudent.

Kale with frost on it

Our kale rows should come through the frost okay. Related plants such as broccoli and cabbage are also somewhat frost tolerant. My experience has been that cauliflower, although a brassica, isn't so frost tolerant. Since we had big harvests of our spring broccoli and cauliflower, I didn't grow any fall brassicas beyond our kale and a couple of spindly cabbage transplants that never got set out.

While the flowers in our garden are probably done for, our hanging basket plants around our back porch will probably survive this cold snap. Enough heat leaks from the house to keep them growing and blooming.

And as often happens after a first frost, our extended weather outlook has no signs of freezing weather for the next ten days.

Later

By mid-afternoon, it was obvious that our butternut squash vines had succumbed to the frost. While the vines are dead, the squash still on the ground should be okay.

Dead butternut squash vines with okay tomato plants in the background

In the background of the photo above, it appears that our tomato plants there may not have sustained too much frost damage. That wasn't the case for our Earlirouge tomato plants in our main garden a hundred yards to the west. They are all well and truly dead. I picked a lot of still good tomatoes off of them.

Dead Earlirouge tomato plants

Our Earliest Red Sweet pepper plants showed some frost damage this afternoon. But their waxy leaves will probably blacken in the next few days from the frost/freeze.

Much, Much Later

When in the basement starting a load of laundry, I thought to look at the seed germination tests I started last Thursday. After just four days, two of the tests deserved a closer look upstairs. The first test I examined was of a batch of Quinte tomato seed. I really needed to refresh our saved Quinte seed, as I hadn't done so for several years. The results of the test were outstanding: 100% germination.

Quinte tomato seed germination test

I do most of our germination tests on coffee filters, usually the brown ones that haven't been bleached. The wet filter gets folded over the seed and put into a ziplock freezer bag. (I find sandwich bags leak too much moisture.) This bunch of germination tests went into a covered tray over a soil heating mat set to 75° F. I run the tests for up to ten days.

Japanese Long Pickling cucumber seed germination test: 70%Tangled mess of roots and shootsSometimes, you end up with a tangled mess of roots and shoots when trying to read a germination test. That was the case today with a retest from a large batch of Japanese Long Pickling cucumber seed. In such cases, it can be easier to count the seeds that didn't sprout than the ones that did. I was lucky on this one, as the three ungerminated seeds sorted themselves out of the mess when I unfolded the coffee filter.

This seed had previously tested at 70%, ten percent below what I consider acceptable for sharing. So far, it's at 70% again, but only after four days into the test. I'm hoping for at least one more seed to sprout in the next few days.

Seed that doesn't meet our germination standards doesn't always get thrown out. Sometimes I save it as a backup in case of a disaster in future seed crops. At other times, I may offer the seed for sale with an advisory of the lower than normal germination rate and extra seed included to compensate.

When I mention disasters in seed production and seed saving, the Quinte tomato variety quickly comes to mind. I'd saved Quinte tomato seed since shortly after its introduction in the 1970s. But a number of years ago, all of our saved Quinte seed proved bad. I searched various seed saving sources to reacquire some seed without success. But finally, the good folks at the USDA Agricultural Research Service's Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) contributed a seed sample of the variety from their seed bank. And, our Quite tomatoes this year were larger and possibly more flavorful than ever before.

If you're a seed saver and have to deal with PVP patented plant varieties, you might want to copy and save the following GRIN links.

Using these links this evening, I found that one of our favorite head lettuce varieties, Sun Devil, was no longer covered by a PVP patent. The patent for our favorite supersweet pea, Eclipse, expires next February. And the patent for our second favorite supersweet pea's patent, Encore, has expired. Whoopee!

Not really on the downside, I found that our favorite variety of grape tomato, Red Pearl, has a plant patent that won't expire until 2032. I'll probably be dead and buried by that date. On the upside, the patent isn't owned by the Bayer/Monsanto/Seminis conglomerate, but by the good guys at Johnny's Selected Seeds. And, they almost always have Red Pearl seed offered on sale.

GNRL Click & Grow

Sunday, October 4, 2020 - Tomatoes

Near the end of the season, gardeners often pick almost ripe and even somewhat green tomatoes to ripen inside just before a frost. What I picked today were all ripe or nearly ripe tomatoes. I was sad to leave lots of lovely but cracked tomatoes behind that would begin to rot at their cracks before ripening.

Tomatoes ripening on dining room table

The tomatoes got spread out on newspaper on our dining room table to finish ripening. To make room for the tomatoes, I pushed our gloxinias aside. While there aren't many gloxinia blooms showing on these plants, several are still ripening seed for seed saving. Gloxinia seed is incredibly easy to save. See Saving Gloxinia Seed.

I also picked peppers today, although not all that many. With a frost likely tomorrow morning, I picked a lot more green peppers than usual.

Eartheasy

Saturday, October 3, 2020 - Butternuts and Grape Tomatoes

Butternut squash in garden cartGrape tomatoes getting rinsedI continued with our preparation for an early frost by bringing in more butternut squash and doing a thorough picking of our two grape tomato plants. I'm waiting until tomorrow to pick regular tomatoes and red peppers, giving them as much time to ripen as possible before the expected frost. I'd sorta hoped the weather forecast might improve, but now the weather folks are predicting a Monday morning low temperature of 31° F!

I cut another fifteen or so butternut squash. After cutting them, I noticed a few still had green stripes at their top, and indication of under ripeness. I try to leave such squash on the vine as long as possible. But we still have forty or so squash on the vines. I'm just hoping they'll survive the frost.

Most of the grape tomatoes picked today were from an open pollinated Red Pearl plant. Usually, our Honey Bunch hybrid grape tomato plant out produces the Red Pearl plant. The picking half filled an eight quart bucket...yeah, from just two plants. The grape tomatoes get rinsed and allowed to air dry. I put them in sandwich bags for distribution, usually keeping one bag for our use. There are still lots of almost ripe grape tomatoes on the Red Pearl plant. If it survives the frost, we'll have grape tomatoes well into the month. The Honey Bunch plant is failing already. I'm guessing it is just worn out.

Getting back to the butternuts, our drying/curing table is filled. Even if I were to cut the rest of the nearly ripe butternuts, I'd have nowhere to go with them.

Pumpkins and butternut squash on curing table

Lots of butternut squash remaining in the field

Burpee Herb Seeds & Plants

Friday, October 2, 2020

Weather Underground Extended ForecastDave's Garden Frost Page for 47882It appears our October gardening may get cut short on Monday morning. While we previously had extended forecasts predicting an overnight low of around 37° F, this morning's extended outlook from several sources suggest a low on Monday of 32-33° F. Our average first frost date for this region is October 17.

An early frost is a bit of a surprise, but first frost dates are climatic averages. This one appears to be one of those frosts that balances out the average from years when we haven't had a frost until sometime in November.

Crockett's Victory GardenI'm rather sanguine about the prospect of an early, killing frost. Our tomatoes are canned and peppers are frozen, enough to last to next season. According to Crockett's Victory Garden, our kale may actually taste better after a good frost. "Like collards, kale is at its best after it's been through a freeze..." (pg 191). We have lots of sweet corn, broccoli, and cauliflower in our big freezer. A cat and dog dug up most of our fall carrots, so we'll just have to hope our spring carrots store better than usual. And we have so many onions and garlic stored in the basement that I'll need to take some to our local food bank once I sort out garlic cloves for planting later this month.

The last of our pumpkinsI cut the last of our pumpkins today and moved them to the curing table in our garage. I also cut a dozen or so butternut squash. I could have cut a lot more of them, but our curing table is pretty full right now. We'll get the last of the pumpkins out to my wife's co-workers on Monday, with any left over going to the food bank.

I spent several hours yesterday working with seed saved this year. Previously, I'd just put pint ziplock bags with germination tests in them in a small brown sack on a bookshelf. Having been disappointed with the results of the tests, I moved some of the bags to a covered tray over a soil heating mat set at 75° F last week. Germination numbers greatly improved. So yesterday, I began retests of batches of saved seed I'd previously thought I'd have to discard.

Botanical Interests Burpee Gardening Required FTC Disclosure Statement: Botanical Interests, Burpee, and True Leaf Market are some of our Senior Gardening affiliate advertisers. Clicking through one of our ads or text links and making a purchase will produce a small commission for us from the sale. We're also a consumer member of the Fedco Seeds Cooperative. True Leaf Market Fedco Seeds

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