Harvest Home

Come, ye thankful people, come,
Raise the song of harvest home!
All is safely gathered in,
Ere the winter storms begin...

~Henry Alford

The forecast for tonight is for temperatures to drop down to 30 degrees, and the National Weather Service issued its official freeze warning. That meant that I spent about an hour and a half bringing in the last of our summer harvest. I picked all the tender things that just won't make it through any bit of frost: beans, peppers, eggplant, okra, and a last few lavender buds. Here's why it took so long:

That is a whole lot of peppers! We didn't realize we had so many bell peppers because they're hard to see when they are still green, and we were kind of waiting for them to turn. But now we're out of time, and I guess smarter farmers would have been enjoying them all along as green peppers instead of waiting for them to turn yellow, orange, and red. We've had a few very sweet, colorful ones, but It's just not hot enough here for long enough for most of them to fully ripen. I'm seeing several versions of stuffed peppers for dinner this week! 

We also have a giant basket of jalapeños and serranos (on the right in the photo, partially out of frame). The jalapeños are disappointingly mild this year, but the latest serranos are at least a little bit spicy. We'll slice them all up together and pickle them to use on nachos and hoagies throughout the year. Hopefully they aren't too mild.

The run away winner of the spice contest was our Tabasco pepper plant:

We had a grand total of one of these ripen, and I tasted it just the other day. It was SUPER HOT. I had been hoping that we could get the rest of these to ripen up in another week or so (they seem so close!), thinking we could doctor up our hot pepper mix when we pickled them. Seems a lost cause now, and they don't taste like much of anything when they are still yellow.

We're out of plastic to cover them, but I may brave the wind (of course) and put an old sheet over them as a Hail Mary. We used our plastic to make seven different greenhouse tunnel this year:

It's hard to see them all clearly from this angle, because most are in the back (probably not the greatest for convenience of harvesting as it gets colder, but that part of the yard is sunnier). Inside the plastic are all of our cool-weather crops (lettuces, brassica, carrots, turnips, etc.). We also have some green beans in the tunnel in the foreground, so we'll see if that works or not. They may be too sensitive. We also have our wooden cold frames set up with their glass covers. These are around low-growing spinach, mache, and mesclun, plus some annual herbs that we'll try to keep going for a little while longer. 

Every year we think we're going to get out ahead of it and be ready for frost, but I'm starting to think that's not possible. There will always be plastic to lock down (inevitably against a gusty wind), and there will always (if we're lucky) fruits and vegetables to collect in a race against the sunset. But it's all in now, and I am curled up in a chair, a little sad and a little relieved to see the summer growing season come to an end. 


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