Salvaging a Short Growing Season

It’s been obvious to gardeners for some time that this summer has not been favourable for vegetable gardening. The lack of sunny days combined with cool nights is just not the best for ripening of tomatoes.

Outdoor vegetables such as cabbage and cauliflower are also very late in forming heads. The hope for these crops is that maybe, just maybe, we will get a “warmer” than normal September.

On the bright side, both leaf and romaine lettuce seems to be prolific: onions, radishes, Savoy cabbage and herbs in the greenhouse are all doing well.

Some suggestions for optimizing your crops for the balance of the season:

  • If you haven’t done so, heating the greenhouse at night will help in ripening tomatoes and other vegetables.
  • For other crops such as cucumbers and squashes, trim some of the leaves to open up the plant exposing the vegetable to as much light as possible.
  • Start to harvest herbs by drying or using fresh. I’ve tried freezing basil for example and found the best result to be to freeze the herb in ice cube trays with water. Just add the frozen cubes to soups and stews.

As you wind down the greenhouse, take the time to make a few notes for another year. For example, record the variety of tomatoes that were planted, how tall the plant grew and how many tomatoes (even if green) did the plant produce, etc. This will help in next year’s decision of the varieties to grow.

If you have space in the basement, one way to ripen tomatoes is to pull the whole vine, roots and all, shake off as much dirt as possible and hang the plant upside down. This works especially well with cherry tomatoes. The tomatoes will ripen “on the vine”.

For larger tomatoes, wrap individually in newspaper and place them in a box or tray (one layer only).

All the plant debris should be removed from the greenhouse, preferably to the compost pile. This not only helps in preventing disease and mold getting into your soil but is one less chore to do next spring.

Gardeners tend to be optimists who believe next year will be a better year for gardening.

Ingrid Wilcox operates Lubbock Garden and Floral Consultant and offers gardening, greenhouse and flower arranging workshops. Contact her at [email protected]


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