[gardeners] shutting down the garden

Margaret Lauterbach (gardeners@globalgarden.com)
Sun, 24 Sep 2000 09:14:35 -0600

The forecast for night before last was 38 degrees F.  The last time the 
weather service predicted that, I had fence to fence frost on my garden. 
Not too surprising, since the weather service measures temps 4 feet off the 
ground, and cold falls.  AFAIK, there've only been two studies done on the 
difference between surface temp and the weather bureau site, and one of 
those showed a 6 degree difference.
Anyway, a friend and I set out to pick the chiles. We got all of them 
picked, a few plants hadn't yet set fruit, so we left them. Yesterday 
morning, there were some frosted leaves on cucumbers and some on 
tomatilloes or ground cherries, whatever volunteered.  Last night's low was 
predicted to be 36 degrees F., so we pretty well closed out the tomatoes 
and eggplants.

I sent out a call for help,and the person who showed up to pick ripe 
tomatoes was the daughter of the people next door. When she was a child, 
she was a royal pain in the butt. Now she has teenaged sons, and, 
remembering her previous behavior, acknowledges that she was a pain in the 
butt. Anyway, she and her husband were picking tomatoes, and I told them 
some anecdotes or history of some they were picking (I had 39 varieties of 
heirloom tomatoes), and part way into the afternoon, her husband said, 
"Hey, this is fun!"  I suggested they save seeds of some they especially 

We had one special disaster in the garden this year: rutabagas have cabbage 
root maggots in them.  We had poor germination of parsnips, so I hesitate 
to dig one up to examine it. I'm hoping they're all right. Radishes were 
okay.  I have very nice kale, regular green curly, black or lacinato kale 
and Portuguese gourmet kale (couve tronchuda).  We also grew Thai pea 
eggplants and some other unusual eggplants.  DH didn't keep eggplants 
picked when he should have, so we didn't get the abundance we should have. 
Ditto the okra.

I did get an abundance of Habaneros, and even got some Chocolate 
Habaneros.  I also had a big harvest of Big Jims and Barker Hot chiles 
(NewMex style). The latter finally satisfied some friends that it was 
possible to grow flavorful and hot NewMex chiles here. They had ordered 8 
lbs. from Hatch, NM, since they were unsatisfied with their own crop. I 
gave the wife a Barker's Hot, she removed the stem and bit into the stem 
end, placenta, seeds and all, then choked and cried and drank water until I 
suggested she drink milk instead. Then she pronounced it "good."  Jim lived 
in NM for years, and even he pronounced that one acceptable. So I gave them 
a liquor box full of Barker's Hot chiles. Jim has helped me a lot with my 
computer and other things, so I was looking for something that would please 
him.  BTW, that abundance of chiles came from two plants. It took four Big 
Jims to produce that many chiles.

We love the Big Jims though, since they're milder.

At this point, I can't say enough good things about having a map of the 
garden on clipboard. It told us what we had and where it was, and where the 
tomatoes were that I wanted to save seeds from. It's thoroughly 
dog-eared.  And speaking of dogs, my wire-haired fox terrier, Tathers,  ate 
fallen apples, picked a large overripe cucumber and started to eat that (we 
took it away, and he lost interest in the cucumber family), started to eat 
an elderly eggplant that should have been on the compost pile, plucked a 
Habanero out of the picking box, and set it down without getting teeth 
marks on it (burning lips should have told him 'no'), chased passing 
animals on the other side of the fence, had a few barking bees with the 
Dalmatian next door, rooted through foliage in search of mice, and 
regularly circled around to see how I was doing. He was pooped out by early 
evening, both evenings.  He went to bed at 7.  I was ready to join him, too.

Since we were prepared, I think, we were spared a killing frost. We're 
entering into Indian summer, and it's a beautiful time of year here in 
southwestern Idaho.  Golden warm days and sugar coloring leaves.  Margaret L