Our first frost forecasts came a bit earlier than usual this year. Frosty weather, or the threat of frost, always has me scrambling to harvest all the sensitive crops like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and sweet potatoes. Which also means I have to get busy and do something with all those veggies coming in! The kitchen has seen a flurry of activity the last few days, and the refrigerator is now stuffed with peppers and eggplant. I’m not sure if we’ve actually got frost yet, but the temps dipped into the thirties.
I dug the sweet potatoes late last week. We wound up with right at 35 pounds of them, less than the 62 pounds we got last year but more than the 25 pounds we got in 2010. Between the drought conditions, and a rabbit that got inside the fenced in garden and munched on the vines, some of the plants just didn’t make many sweet potatoes. I had two varieties planted this year: Beauregard and Hernandez. This year the Hernandez did much better than Beauregard, but I believe it was mainly because the rabbit feasted more on the Beauregard vines and left Hernandez alone. Last year the two varieties produced about the same amount. The 35 pounds of sweet potatoes will be plenty for us to dine on in the coming months.
I also picked as many peppers as I could this week, ripe and green. The peppers produced about the same as they did last year. We have been dehydrating them, and dicing and freezing them for later use. My one Ancho 211 plant made lots of peppers, and I will dry the red ones for powder and roast the green ones on the grill, then chop them up and freeze them. I’m going to stuff some of the bell peppers and freeze them for later meals. I’ve found that’s a great way to enjoy peppers in the winter months. Of course I’ll probably make some more hot sauce with some of the hot peppers.
It’s been a pretty good year for eggplants too. The last harvest brought the yearly totals to about 36 pounds, which is a couple of pounds more than last year. We’ve enjoyed them grilled, stir-fried and made into Baba Ghanoush. I always enjoy them in season and then miss them when they’re gone!
I got quite a few green tomatoes off the vines, enough to make a batch of Green Tomato Salsa Verde and still have lots left over. I need to share that recipe, because it’s a great thing to do with green tomatoes at the end of the season. I freeze the salsa instead of canning it, and it does quite well that way. I also saved some of the bigger ones for frying. I wanted one last taste of fried green tomatoes! That’s on the menu for tonight. I also started a couple of jars of lacto-fermented green tomatoes. I am having fun with this old-fashioned way of pickling things without vinegar. I’m wanting to try pickling carrots, radishes, turnips and kohlrabi this way too. It won’t be long before those veggies are ready.
Another real treat we are just now enjoying is the Asian persimmons. I have two trees planted: Gwang Yang and Ichy Ki Kei Jiro. We have a total of 15 persimmons on the two trees, which will be our biggest harvest to date if they all ripen. These two trees are non-astringent types, which means they can be eaten when they are still firm like an apple and you won’t pucker up! I would like to plant one astringent type because I like them too. Hachiya probably won’t do well here, but I am looking into planting either a Tanenashi or Saijo tree.
I’ve started harvesting the fall kale. I got a mix of Lacinato and Beedy’s Camden that I fixed for a side dish one night, and some went into a kale soup. I’ve also got Rainbow Lacinato kale planted. I skipped planting collard greens this year, though we planted some at the Impact Community Garden. I need to get down there with my camera and get some photos. We’ve got a lovely fall garden going down there.
That’s a peek at what we’ve been harvesting here in early October. To see what other goodies gardeners from all over the world are harvesting, visit Daphne’s Dandelions, host of Harvest Mondays. And Happy Growing to all of you gardeners out there!