A frost warning may be in effect in your area this week!
This is a cautionary tale for all you men out there.
When you have a particularly bountiful crop, you can spends much of August and September storing and preserving vegetables. If you’re lucky enough to have a good friend to keep you company, the chore can actually be quite pleasant. But one year we had a harvest my husband Ted will never forget.
Our daughter-in-law Valerie had put a lot of peppers into the trial garden that summer, and her experiments were a bit too successful. We gave peppers away to customers and friends, and still had two huge baskets full of them.
Ted said, “Lois, why don’t you chop them up and freeze? I’ll help you.”
We turned on the CBC and set to work, chopping and chatting away. I noticed my hands were feeling hot. I thought, “Oh, for heaven’s sake, we’ve got some hot peppers mixed in.” I wasn’t too worried, since I was sure that we hadn’t picked any really hot peppers like jalapenos and habaneros. Still, my hands were beginning to feel like they were on fire. I asked Ted, “Are your hands hot?”
“No,” he shrugged.
We kept chopping and chopping, and from time to time, I’d run to the tap to cool my fingers. I kept asking, “Ted, are you sure your hands aren’t hot? Because mine are really getting painful.”
“No, no,” he said.
Finally, just as we were getting to the end, Ted excused himself. Maybe he should have thought to wash his hands first.
A minute later, I heard this mournful wail from the bathroom: “LO-O-O-ISSSS!” I guess his hands had been hot after all!
He walked very gingerly for the rest of the day.
-Lois Hole, I'll Never Marry A Farmer
Last year, I filled up a Big Bag Bed with 9 different pepper varieties ranging from "Golden Calwonder" (which is a delicious, orange-coloured, bell pepper great for stuffing) to "Red Savina"—the world's hottest habanero pepper.
It was the first year I tried the Big Bag Bed, which is a large, round, fabric container that is great for growing plants during the summer. It is also easy to fold up and store for winter. The peppers grew beautifully in the BBB and I had wonderful peppers for fresh eating and cooking during summer and well into the fall.
One of my favorite varieties was called "Red Cherry Sweet." It produced gorgeous, deep-red, 4 cm wide fruit that had a spicy-hot flavour but not so hot that I needed to stick my mouth under the kitchen faucet and pour cold water into my mouth.
If you love peppers, and want to start you own indoors, early February is the time to kick things into gear. High quality potting soil, great seed varieties and some grow lights (currently on sale, at 22-24% off regular prices) are the essentials for growing the most vigorous seedlings that will get off to a great start in your garden.
By the way—and this is from personal experience—only plant super spicy peppers like "Red Savina" if you plan on using it sparingly in certain spicy dishes, or perhaps if you have a predilection for masochism!
p.s. Our 2015 seed list is now online (click here to view.. we are still adding a handful of seeds to the list from Pacific Northwest Seeds). Come in and get your seeds soon, before they sell out!
You can also phone 780 419 6800 extension 3 to place your mail order. Phone lines are open from 9:00AM-4:30PM MST.
This weekend is going to be a spectacular time to visit Hole's Greenhouse.
On Friday, we'll be hosting the Opening Gala for the Dig In Horticulinary Festival. The Opening Gala is sold out, but there are still tickets available for the workshops happening all day on Saturday, including 2 workshops that I'm teaching on container gardening [Editor's note: ticket sales for the paid workshops have now closed. Check out the free workshops below though!]
On Saturday, we'll also be offering FREE workshops on the mainstage all day.
- At 9:00AM, I'll be teaching a free workshop on Companion Planting. In this workshop, you'll learn which plants help each other grow and which plants should be kept far apart from each other.
- At 9:30AM, Julianna Mimande from the Glasshouse Bistro will chat about what she learned about Permaculture while visiting Cuba.
- Finally, at 3:30PM, we'll be featuring the hottest pepper in the world, the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Pepper (grown right here in our greenhouse) in a hot pepper eating contest. I ate a single seed from this pepper a while back, and I'm still reeling from it!
Experts from all over the province will be in attendance, and there will also be lots of other free workshops on honey, oils and vinaigrettes, heritage grains, and much much more!
I'm also looking forward to many of the ticketed workshops. To name just a few of them, there are paid workshops on vertical gardening, sausage making, and even a wineology course! [Editor's note: ticket sales for these paid workshops have now closed. Check out the free workshops above though!]
Whatever you're interested in, we'll have a workshop for you this weekend. I'd love to see you there.
A frost warning is in effect and we've received a lot of phone calls from people asking about what can stay outside and what needs to come in. Here's our quick guide:
- Apples: A light frost will not affect the apples and may even make them sweeter. Barring a severe September storm, leave your apples on the tree until they are ripe (mid- to late- September for most late bearing apples).
- Beans and Peas: Will not tolerate frost. Harvest these guys and eat them up!
- Beets, Carrots, Onions, Potatoes: Protected underground, these vegetables do fine in a light frost and their flavour may even improve with the cold. That said, harvest them before the ground freezes.
- Chard, Kale, and Cabbage: These plants should all survive a light frost. Cold temperatures will even intensify the colour and flavour of chard, and may sweeten cabbage.
- Corn: Corn is frost sensitive. If your corn is ready, pick it now. If it is not yet ready to harvest, cross your fingers and hope for the best. A hard frost will reduce the shelf life of corn to 3 to 4 days.
- Lettuce and Salad Greens: Cold will affect the look and texture of lettuce and salad greens, but they can survive a light frost. If you’d like, harvest the tops of the lettuce and see if they come back afterwards.
- Tomatoes and Peppers: Harvest any ripe tomatoes and all peppers. Unripe tomatoes are bit more complicated. If you’re feeling cautious and would rather not deal with any stress, harvest them all now—ripe or not.
If you’re feeling daring and if the forecast cooperates for the next day or two, you may be able to get away with bringing the tomato vines close to the house (preferably on the south side of the house) and covering them with some light bed sheets to protect them from the frost.
However, if the forecast dips below -2°C, the tomatoes will probably end up covered in frost anyways even with these precautions. Keep an eye on your local temperature, and harvest the unripe tomatoes if necessary. Green tomatoes can be ripened inside on sheets of newspaper.
- Pumpkins, Squash, Zucchini, Cucumbers: Cucumbers, zucchini, and summer varieties of pumpkin and squash should be harvested now, wiped dry, and cured in a hot, dry room for a few days to improve shelf life.
Properly cured, they may store for a few weeks. Avoid storing these fruits on concrete or metal surfaces as it can cause them to rot.
Thin skinned cucumbers will not store as well and should be eaten within a few days.
Some pumpkins and squash are "winter varieties" and can store very well if properly cured. Harvest any mature “winter variety” gourds before a frost (they will have a nice tough skin when mature) and do your best to protect the immature ones by covering them with a sheet. Immature gourds will not ripen off the vine or once the vine has died, so protecting them and hoping for the best is the best strategy. Be careful not to crush the vines.