For those gardeners who planted feverishly in the spring, the fall harvest should keep us happy with our own home-grown veggies come winter. Although the growing season dampened many a gardener’s spirit, some vegetables and fruits still managed to flourish.
Most everyone who plants a vegetable garden plants tomatoes. So if your tomatoes managed to survive the dank summer, don’t let the remaining fruit get ahead of you. If your vines look tired, pull the tomatoes off when they start showing some color and ripen in a sunny window. Once the tomato develops a red hue, cut in quarters, core them, place in freezer bags and push all the air out. Wait until you make your winter sauce to peel the skins off; it is a much easier endeavor and it gives you less to worry about during harvest time. Even if the taste seems a bit lost, these partially ripened home-grown tomatoes beats the pants off any supermarket, ‘grown in another land’ tomato.
We are also in potato harvest season. For any of you that dared to take the potato plunge this year, let your plants dry up before you harvest. Leave them in the ground as long as possible. This helps toughen the skins and improves your storage longevity. If you want potatoes and other root vegetables to last the winter, it is a good idea to research the best options for storage. A potato is a living plant gone dormant for the winter. If there is too much heat or moisture, it wakes up and grows; not a pretty sight. The best way to store your potatoes: in cool, slightly damp conditions with temperatures between 40 to 48 degrees.
For any onion growers, this is the perfect drying weather. Let the skins and the tops completely dry before you store them. After the tops dry, trim the leaves with the bulb remaining or braid the onions like you often see with garlic. You can hang them in your basement for easy storage. Speaking of garlic, we are coming up to that time of year. Quality garlic cloves should be planted soon for next year’s harvest. It may be a challenge to find some cloves through catalogs but you can plant a ‘supermarket’ clove. Just use the big cloves around the outside of the head. The smaller cloves in the middle don’t always produce the best plant.
Is there an inspirational gardening thought for the day? I think I’ll go with a Vince Lombardi quote today. "Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect." Tedy Bruschi will be missed on the football field. Hopefully, he sticks around the New England periphery and continues to inspire with his tenacity.
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© 2009 Ann St. Jean-Bilowz/Bilowz Associates Inc. (including all photographs, unless otherwise noted in Annie's Gardening Corner are the property of Bilowz Associates Inc. and shall not be reproduced in any manner nor are they to be assigned to any third party without the expressed written permission and consent of Bilowz Associates Inc.)