Pre-Freeze Harvest Notes

I managed to get a few images of the pre-freeze harvest Friday after critiquing student essays and heading to Sioux Falls to pick up M. Usually there’s a bit more than 24 hours between the first killing frost and hard freeze, but that wasn’t the case this year.

Thursday morning I went out to harvest for market, and all the peppers and eggplant and tomatoes were fine.  Friday afternoon, they were limp and soggy-looking.  But there were still some frost (but not freeze) hardy crops to pull in before the temps hit the mid-to-lower twenties, as they did Friday and Saturday nights.

Brussels sprout logsThis is the first year I’ve grown Brussels sprouts.  They were one of the few vegetables I absolutely hated growing up–mostly because all I ever had was the frozen kind in some sort of fake butter sauce.  Blech!

I grew the heirloom purple variety called Rubine, and while I’ll probably grow sprouts again, I won’t grow this one.  I’m generally not super-picky about uniformity in a crop, but after seeing how incredibly variable this one is, I think I might try something different next year.  But they are pretty!

Storage of Brussels sprouts was something I’d read about, so I proceeded according to that info–hacked off the top with a machete, then swiped the blade down the side to remove the remaining leaves (without hitting the sprouts).  Then I pulled the plant out of the ground, shaking soil from the roots, and removed the remaining leaf stalks.

The “sprout logs” are now on a tarp in the basement, hopefully to ripen/enlarge the remaining tiny cabbages.  My basement’s a little warmer than they’d probably like–I’m wishing I had a root cellar for these and the roots crops.

carrots 2009I also dug out the few carrots I managed to get in this season.  They went in a few months ago, after the salad mix was done, and after row covering them, I pretty much left them alone.  What seed was good germinated and grew well with all our summer rains this year, so I ended up with a little tub full.

Lastly, I dug all of the celeriac out of the mixed row of that and parsnips.  I would not recommend planting your celeriac and parnsips together, by the way, because their foliage looks almost exactly alike.  I only transplanted that celeriac into the parnsip row because I’d thought the parsnips didn’t germinate.

Well, they did–it’s just that they take forever.  So, when I got a little ways down that row, I saw the little parsnip plants here and there, and since I’d already gotten some celeriac in, I just filled in the empty spaces.

pre-freeze harvest 2009Luckily, the celeriac crowns look different than parsnips’ as the roots swell and enlarge.  So, I’m pretty sure I got all the celeriac, and I only pulled one parsnip by mistake–and only because it was so close to one of the celery roots.  After whacking off all the leaves, I ended up with a couple buckets full of the mild-flavored vegetable.

Once the soil on those roots dries a little, I’ll be able to shake them off a bit and get a better idea of what’s there.  I also kept a bucket of the choicer, more tender leaves–they have great flavor for soups and stews.

Now all that’s left in the gardens to harvest is leeks and parsnips–and a few greens that may or may not handle the frigid temps under their row covers.  I’ve still got a lot of clean-up to do, but coursework and cold have limited that work for the past few days.

Next week looks cold and rainy (maybe snowy) as well, so I hope I’m able to get out and work a little more yet this season before the gardens get snowed in for the winter.


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