We did indeed frantically pull the best of the remaining bell pepper plants with blossoms as I mentioned in my last post. They are potted and doing swimmingly. Hooray! Since then we have been covering the entire garden with bed sheets to keep the frost off the fruit and leaves in hopes of holding on just a little longer. It indeed got cold enough to harm, though, since the frost spots were evident on what remained of the herb garden (which we did not cover).
All weekend, we have been busy putting things up at record speed in an attempt to save the garden from the frost monster. The dehydrator has been working triple time drying the entire contents of our well stocked herb garden in shifts. We now have dried sage, rosemary, lemon thyme, oregano, greek oregano, marjoram, chives, mint, and basil. There is another batch of marjoram going right now, and then the last of the basil will go in once it's done. There are probably some more chives that could be cut and dried. We'll see how they survive the night, though. We also have an entire patchouli plant that I'm trying to decide what to do with. We used part of it to make herbed olive oil for winter candle making, but I cannot think of anything else we could possibly do with it if I save it by means of the dehydrator.
Today, we made the final decision to pick the mountain of still green tomatoes and pull the remaining plants for composting. The threat of frost and super cold nights is simply too great to warrant leaving them outside anymore, even with a circus tent of bed sheets to shield them. We pulled two tomato plants up whole, one red cherry and one yellow pear, and potted them in containers because they're still blossoming and I am somehow convinced that you can grow them inside with enough love and sunlight. The tomatoes themselves, from the remaining plants, are now in paper grocery bags, hibernating in the mud room, with hopes that they will ripen. We pulled the summer squash, which was dead once and then resurrected itself, and potted it in a hanging pot to add to the mildly gigantic indoor greenhouse we seem to be building. I won't lie, it was a little sad seeing our monsterous garden dismantled, but the stakes are out for the newer, larger, next year garden to be rototilled before the ground freezes. That helps, I think.
I pretty much love the idea of gardening. I love fresh produce in my backyard. I love eating food that we grew, that we know what went on and into, and that is not trucked in from who knows where after being harvested early so that it didn't rot on the way to the market. I love knowing that we don't contribute as heavily to the carbon output of the food industry because we can grow our own produce. I really enjoy supporting local agriculture ... even when the pumpkins don't grow, even when the box elder bugs ate all the cherry tomato blossoms, even when the only watermelon that survived was smaller than a baseball. Ok, I love it a lot.
Summer is over, the garden is now compost, and hopefully we have enough produce to make it through winter. I'll be getting orchard apples this week, squash from the farmers down the road, and pumpkins in two or three weeks. Keep your fingers crossed that the indoor (circus) greenhouse works out so that we have fresh tomatoes and bell peppers for the months to come. Goodbye, garden, we'll miss you.