October Harvest

October Harvest, Copyright © 2009 Jade Leone Blackwater

Today’s harvest includes a healthy bunch of semi-ripe tomatoes (and there’s plenty more where these came from).  I’m rooting cuttings from the healthiest vines to see how long I can keep them growing indoors through the winter.

There are also loads of yet-to-be-harvested purple-podded pole beans.  Half of them are still purple, and the other half are now mostly brown.  It’ll probably take a few hours to collect all the rest of the bean pods from the vines!

We have a couple handfuls of small jalapeños and sweet green peppers remaining.  Now that the plants are slowly dying back, I’m finding spring-sown parsley and lettuce that are thriving in the cool weather.

Pictured here is the first (and tiniest) of our pumpkins.  Three others are about two or three times this size, but only one is safely within the fence.  The exposed pumpkins will likely be claimed by the husky once they ripen.  (He’s been pulling and eating the rainbow carrots from of the cold frame, and harvests all the tomatoes that grown outside the fence.  I’ve learned to deliberately plant vegetables he likes around the yard so he can help himself all summer.

Also shown are the honeycrisp apples and a couple bananas from the local farm stand this morning (where I also grabbed some bigger pumpkins, and learned that they will be selling live Christmas trees this season).

The biggest colander is full of counter-ripened tomatoes for this weekend’s pasta sauce.  And the fragrant bunch of flowers include marigolds, peppermint, chives, nasturtiums, clovers, dandelions, lavender, and fireweed curls.

Next I’ll begin culling the tomatoes from the cold frames to make way for cold season vegetables.  My favorite cold weather crops for the cold frame include cilantro, lettuce, spinach, and other greens, as well as radishes, onions, and carrots.  This year I’ll also be including cauliflower and broccoli, and I’m considering an experiment with winter squash.

Late Tomatoes, Copyright © 2009 Jade Leone Blackwater

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Cold Frame: the treasure box

Cold frame vegetables, (c) Copyright 2007, Jade Leone Blackwater

It may not look like much, but whenever I see my cold frame I salivate and think about dinner.  A cold frame is a tool for extending your harvest through the cold months by protecting plants from wind while capturing a maximum amount of the low-winter sun to keep the plants warm.

Cold frame vegetables, (c) Copyright 2007, Jade Leone Blackwater

We built this coldframe in October 2006, and it has been feeding us ever since.  Our design is based on what we learned in Eliot Coleman’s book Four Season Harvest.  (We’ll talk more about this book in the future.)  Cold frame designs can be modified to fit your available space and materials.

Rather than use old storm windows for glass “lights”, we chose to use PVC plastic on our cold frame.  Despite our mixed feelings about PVC, I’m always glad we made this choice whenever I see our husky take a flying leap on top of the cold frame when he’s feeling “defiant.”

Cold frame vegetables, (c) Copyright 2007 Jade Leone Blackwater

This year the cold frame is filled with the end-of-summer jalapeños, carrots, and a few stray onions, as well as fresh rows of oak leaf lettuce, mizuna mustard greens, and slow-bolt cilantro.  As we explore nutrition, food, cooking, and gardening at AppleJade, you’ll be seeing a lot of our cold frame – and its bounty.

Do you have questions about cold frames?  Contact me with your questions, comments, and ideas any time, and I will try to address them in future posts.