by Leslie Cox; Saturday; October 14, 2017

group of 'Harry's Roma' - last picking Oct. 2014All the tomatoes were picked out of the greenhouse this week! Including all the green ones.

Well…all tomatoes except for what is on two plants which we call ‘Harry’s Roma’. (That is another story for another time.) John wanted to leave them intact to monitor for research purposes as the temperature drops. Which it did. Went down to -1 °C (30.2 °F) in the wee hours of Friday the 13th.

The tomato bounty then had to be cleaned and weighed, as I like to keep track of how much fruit each tomato variety produces versus number of plants. No sense in taking up valuable greenhouse space for a poorly producing tomato plant! Next, all the tomatoes had to be sorted into ripe, semi-ripe, and green…the latter two which then had to be readied for slow ripening over the next several weeks.

It was not a bad haul on the tomatoes. Total weight this pick was 23.25 kg (51 lb 4 oz). But I still have to add in the ‘Sungold’ and ‘Tumbler’ tomatoes I forgot about in their planters by the grape arbour…and have since picked but not weighed. And I have not tallied up the grand total on the tomato harvest for the season yet.

Last picking of 'Harry's Roma'Needless to say, where once we were swimming in zucchini, we are now swimming in tomatoes! But who is complaining?! With seven beer flats full of green and semi-ripe tomatoes tucked between layers of newspaper in our unheated basement, we should be enjoying fresh, home-grown tomatoes for a couple of months yet. If we are really lucky, we will still be eating our own tomatoes up to Christmas…and possibly beyond! And we will still have the ones I have put in the freezer already! Oh…life is good when you grow at least some of your own food.

Kale. Still picking leaves off the dozen assorted kale plants in the garden. Made another salad this week which lasted a couple of days. (It keeps well in the refrigerator for two or three days.) And of course, one or two leaves always goes into our morning smoothie. Yum!

Kale 'Lacinato'We have yet to tire of this superfood species but then, it could be the taste variation from the four different kale varieties we grew this year…’Lacinato’, ‘Red Russian’, ‘Dwarf Scotch Blue Curled’, and ‘Scarlet’. This last one was a new variety for our garden and we are both really impressed with its rich purple-red leaf colouring.

I had also grown a few Portuguese kale but a cutworm decimated my seedlings this year. Lost a few seedlings in my vegetable garden to this pest as well as a few tomatoes in the greenhouse. I will be on guard to take action next spring!

Tomato fruitworm - Helicoverpa zeaI would have taken remedial action over the summer but I have not yet accurately pinpointed the moth which is responsible for producing the nasty cutworm larvae. We have an electric “bug zapper” which emits a bluish light that supposedly attracts pest insects like mosquitos and cabbage white moths. However, it also attracts the good insects as well, so we use the “bug zapper” sparingly…as in when we have a definite pest problem.

Speaking of pests…we sure cut down on the mosquito numbers by covering our rain barrels with landscape fabric this summer. We always “make do” with what we have on hand and in this case, it was a left-over roll of this useless material. At least “useless” in our opinion.

rain barrelsWay back when we started our garden make-over in the late 1990s, we used landscape fabric on a couple of paths we were constructing…as per expert recommendation. It did not take long…just two years…for us to realize landscape fabric does not stop weeds from working their roots down through the fabric and into the soil underneath. You cannot pull up the weeds without pulling up the fabric and / or tearing it…rendering it useless as a barrier.

We also discovered landscape fabric does not stop the wandering roots of suckering plants from poking their offshoots up through the fabric. These, too, are impossible to pull up without damaging the fabric.

So, fast forward to this year and our attempt at finding a useful purpose for landscape fabric…we were not surprised to learn that rain does not penetrate it. The little bit of rain we got throughout the long drought period this summer had us running around to remove all the fabric covers from our barrels in order to collect as much of the precious moisture as possible.

Let this be a warning to all gardeners. Do not use landscape fabric on your garden beds under your mulch! Not only will the important nutrients not get through to feed your soil and plants but…even more importantly…unless you have an irrigation system running underneath the fabric…any water you give your plants will not get through the fabric to the roots, where it is really needed the most.