This has been a WILD year of gardening adventures to say the least! From heavy snows and bitterly cold temperatures, to a very warm March and early April, to early May frosts and a cool spring followed by a brutally hot and dry summer…we had it ALL this year!
Despite the crazy weather, we managed to have the best spring harvests of lettuce we’ve ever had, and an absolutely tremendous tomato harvest. We lost a lot of plants to the heat, but the ones that survived, turned out the tastiest tomatoes we’ve ever had in our gardening lives.
I firmly believe that the silver reflective mulch film saved a lot of our plants. The film bounces off a lot of the sun’s heat and kept the roots cool. I resisted the urge to water often and only used the drip irrigation system about every 5-7 days. The plants that didn’t die early did very well…the fruit took FOREVER to ripen, but by the end of July/first of August, we were swimming in tomatoes. Many were eaten fresh and we had BLT’s more times than I can count, the rest were cooked down into glorious sauces and canned for future tomato dinners this winter.
One of the biggest lessons I learned this year is that peppers need to be grown in containers. I plan on moving all of my pepper plants from the garden to 5 gallon, black grow bags next year. Peppers need warm soil to get going and with the cool spring, they didn’t grow much until the super hot heat hit. Then it was too hot for fruit to set. We are just now getting decent harvests of peppers, but nothing like we would have if those plants had had a better start…grow bags do the trick.
Every year, I vow to plant more fall crops…most years I get too busy and don’t get it done. This year I’ve done a bit better with lettuce, stir fry greens, and spinach all filling up several beds. The spinach I plant to over-winter and enjoy a better harvest next spring. the lettuce and greens I’ll shelter with Agribond and hope to have some great salads and stir-fries this fall.
They are calling for near freezing temps this week…for sure we’re looking at a frost. If you still have tomatoes and peppers on the vine, now is the time to bring them in or cover them up on those nights and mornings with predicted lows in the 30’s. We picked all of our green tomatoes from all but one bed today and those will be turned into green tomato pies, tomato chow-chow, and maybe some fried green tomatoes. The ones still on the vine I’ll cover up and hope to have some ripe fruits later this month…fingers crossed! I’ll likely pick all of my remaining peppers early this week too…going to freeze them and use them this winter in soups and stews. My bhut jolokia, habanero, and serrano peppers that I grew in containers will be brought in the house to continue ripening through the winter.
Soon, I’ll be preparing my grow list for next year…stay tuned for another awesome selection of tomato and pepper plants next year!