Here’s Howard Hazelwood’s final report on the production of his incredible six tomato plants:
“Due to the forecast of a freeze,” he writes, “I took out my tomatoes today (Oct. 29). I picked 210 green and ripe ones and I had picked 36 last Friday for total of 1,322 from my six plants this year. I measured the two early girl plants after taking them down and they were both 12 feet long.
“I store my green tomatoes on a workbench in my garage and cover with newspaper. (Anyone trying to save tomatoes needs to) make sure they are in a place that won't freeze, check once a week and bring the ripe ones in to eat; they will ripen slowly.
“Most years, we still have ripe tomatoes for Thanksgiving and a few years we have had some ripen for Christmas."
One year after we’d moved to town, but were still working on our house in the country, I raised a small kitchen garden. As cold weather approached, I picked all the tomatoes, brought them in and spread them on the counter in the downstairs kitchen, which was cool — not at all unlike Howard’s garage.
Some rotted, some ripened, some did nothing. We sliced the last one for dinner on New Year’s Day!
There’s always plenty of good-natured competition about who can pick the earliest tomato each year. And with the really serious gardeners — like Howard Hazelwood — there’s an effort to see when the last one of the summer can be sliced.
Care for houseplants
I grow weary writing about the vagaries of the weather at this time of year. We’re all talking about it: How cold will it get? When will the first flakes fly? So, you don’t need to read about it again here. We are all aware this is a transitional time when summer is struggling to hold on but losing the battle.
Surely by now you’ve brought in any houseplants you intend to over-winter. If you haven’t, if they’re still alive and if you plan to bring them in — a lot of “ifs” there — then do it now. And after they’re in, remember they’re going to exhibit signs of shock — like leaves falling — but with a little TLC they’ll adjust and make it thru to next spring.
Most experts suggest watering the plants once a week when the soil in their pot feels dry. Don’t over-water and definitely don’t fertilize. We want them to survive, not put out new growth, which can be stressful.
Also, the writers of the information we published a few weeks back suggested rotating them a quarter turn each week in order to keep even lighting. If, of course, they’re under lights that’s not necessary.
Chances are with just minimal care your plants will do fine inside this winter then next spring we’ll review what we need to do when they return to the great outdoors.
What we can do now
Not too much, really, unless you planted a fall garden of some sort, whether in the ground, greenhouse or low tunnel. I received a note from Wes Henry, my PBTS partner, who said he kept his promise to himself not to put in a fall garden this year — except for garlic.
If you haven’t yet cleaned up your plot — whether it’s a half-acre or a couple of pots on the porch — you can do that and be all ready for planting in the spring.
Remember the best option is to remove spent plants and dispose of them. The other two are: No. 1, leave the plants where they dropped when frost and freeze took the last measure from them, or No. 2, plow them under. The best remains removal.
If you have gravel to pour on a drive or road on your farm, do that when the light moon rules through Monday then most of Nov. 26 through Dec. 11.
The same applies for stones on a garden path: Place them when the moon is in the light phase, so they don’t sink. If you’re setting fence posts, do that in the light phase of the moon so the posts don’t sink.