Frosty preparations

I discovered, while reading a couple of my fellow Iowa garden bloggers this morning, that I ought to check the weather forecast. They both mentioned the frost warning for tonight, and while there had been a significant drop in temperature between when I left for Chicago on Sunday morning and when I returned Monday night, somehow a frost warning seemed awfully odd.

“We’re going to have to take everything in tonight,” I said to Steve just before I left for work. “Can you help me with that?”

“Sure,” he said. “The harvest’s the fun part.”

I went swimming after work, and by the time I got home, the light outside had already faded to purple. I hung up my towel and swimsuit, and never even unbuttoned my coat.

“What are you doing?” asked Steve as I went in a drawer for the pair of scissors.

“We’ve got to bring all the vegetables in before they freeze,” I said.

The last gaspHe put on a ski jacket and followed me out the door. We cut pepper after pepper off one plant, then another. We gathered the two eggplants and nearly 20 green tomatoes off the Big Beef plant.

“You can get the grape tomatoes off those plants,” I said as I waved my hands through the gloom-obscured pepper plants. If I hit a pepper, I cut it off and dropped it into first a colander, then, after that filled, my barn jacket pockets. “Get the green ones, too. We can cook them up.”

“She’s done with you,” Steve said to one of the grape tomato plants. “A little frost, and it’s all over. If you’re not pumping out tomatoes, you’re of no use to her.”

“That is not a nice thing to say to the plant,” I said. “Did you get all the tomatoes?”

Steve reached back in for the last few green grape tomatoes, and then we eyed the various container of herb plants.

“We can take them all inside,” Steve said. “We can just set them on newspaper or something.”

Steve, tapingI thought about the white flies on the basil and the various small bees and fuzzy caterpillars that showed up in the lavender and parsley this summer. Without confirmation that they were all gone, I wasn’t sure I wanted to risk putting any more bugs in the house than we already have. Our house is old, with a creepy basement that features a stunning array of silverfish that enjoy a romp through our kitchen at the most inconvenient times.

“How about if we just move the critical ones up on the porch, and then make a tent out of the tablecloth?” I said. “That ought to protect them overnight. It’s only supposed to get down to 33.”

Steve gave me the look that said, A tent?

I looked at the containers and thought about which ones were really important to me. It was getting dark and I was getting hungry, and suddenly the thought of saving the gone-to-seed Italian parsley or the bolting mint seemed a little less key.

In the end, we carried Steve’s tropical plant inside, and lined up the Genovese basil plant, the sage, and the lavender on the porch against the wall. We taped our oilcloth tablecloth around them to give them shelter, and called it a night.

Editorial note: Speaking of calling it a night, I just want to let my fearless readers know that I’ll probably slow down the posts now that the weather’s cooling and there’s less to see and do in the garden. Don’t worry…my over-winter plan will include recipes, stories and photos galore, but I’ll probably start posting every other day rather than every day.

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12 Responses to “Frosty preparations”


  1. 1 Trey September 19, 2006 at 10:05 pm

    How sad. Somehow knowing The Inadvertent Gardener is slowing down means that fall is finally here. 33° F. Can’t argue with that!

  2. 2 inadvertentgardener September 19, 2006 at 10:09 pm

    I know…I’m still keeping my fingers crossed that we get another miraculous warm snap. I’m not ready for Fall! (Or winter, for that matter…)

  3. 3 Kalyn September 19, 2006 at 10:39 pm

    You’re very dedicated. I just go to sleep each night and hope for the best.

  4. 4 inadvertentgardener September 20, 2006 at 6:42 am

    I thought about doing that, honestly…but there were way too many peppers and tomatoes out there to risk it. But I didn’t do a full floating cover of the garden or anything like that…we’ll see how it all goes!

  5. 5 steven September 20, 2006 at 8:13 am

    No frost here yet, but I did dig out the San Marzanos when I got back from Atlanta to keep a couple steps ahead chore-wise. Now I’ve got about twenty pounds of green tomatoes to deal with. Luckily I’ve got a great recipe for green tomato chutney from John at Spade Work.

  6. 6 Carol September 20, 2006 at 8:43 pm

    Ah, yes, the Dance of the First Frost, performed each fall by gardeners trying to salvage the last of the produce and protect the plants for a warmer day. I’ve yet to see it performed here, but that show is coming to town someday soon, no doubt!

  7. 7 La Gringa September 20, 2006 at 9:11 pm

    The first frost is always kind of sad, but kind of a relief, too, don’t you think? I used to feel that way in Texas — everything from there on out wasn’t my fault. ;-) Here in Honduras, I never get a break from gardening due to weather, unless it’s a tropical storm.

    Thanks for visiting my blog and let me know if you come to Honduras.

  8. 8 inadvertentgardener September 20, 2006 at 9:47 pm

    Steven, green tomato sounds tasty. I hope you’re able to get it all cooked up.

    Carol, we seem to have done OK here…we’ll see if we get any more heat. Probably not…

    La Gringa, you’re right…it is a little bit of a relief. But there are still Fall crops to work with, so we’ll see how it goes. I’ll definitely let you know if we make it to Honduras!

  9. 9 jugnoo September 21, 2006 at 8:10 am

    How dedicated you are & about frost cant do anything but i wish steve always be with you for help.

  10. 10 Jeanne September 21, 2006 at 8:41 am

    I also have welcome the end of the season. I do love the gardening, but am happy to clean up the beds, look at what was good this season and what was not, then plan for next year.

  11. 11 inadvertentgardener September 24, 2006 at 9:11 am

    Imran–Thanks for your comment!

    Jeanne–See…cleaning up is the part that I’m still trying to put off…so I keep planting stuff!


  1. 1 Last-minute additions to the to-do list « The Inadvertent Gardener Trackback on September 14, 2007 at 7:25 am

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