Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Question for Gardeners

We have had two frosts so far this year and are having a third frost tonight. So far I have covered my plants and they've been fine. That is the plan for tonight as well (for most plants: I went ahead and harvested most of the greens).

But tomorrow night they are forecasting our first freeze. I have plants covered with green tomatoes, poblanos and jalapenos. Will they stand up to a freeze if I just cover them with sheets? Or should I go ahead and harvest everything? I would rather wait if the tomatoes have a chance of ripening, but then again, I'd rather have green tomatoes than no tomatoes. I could make a green tomato relish or some chow chow, which the hubster is fond of.

What are your thoughts?


  1. I don't think just covering with sheets will protect them from a freeze. Sometimes tomatoes will ripen if you wrap individual with sheet of newspaper and place in a cardboard box or paper bag. Check them daily. Jalapenos can be used at any size and I don't know about the poblanos.

    Good Luck... I always hate that first killing frost or freeze.

  2. I'd harvest, like Mamma Bear advised. Why take a chance and lose all those nice peppers. It's the duration of the freeze that gets them...

  3. Time to collect the tender crops. Pull tomato plants entirely and hang upside down.. tomatoes will continue to ripen on the vine as they hang. Peppers.. you could actually pot them up as they are perennial plants in tropical locations. If you have enough light you can keep them going over winter. Many peppers will slow down in cooler temperatures.. but then they can be transplanted outdoors next year and it will give you a much bigger head start as they will produce.

    Some of the smaller pepper varieties will even offer up peppers throughout winter. The key is light and gentle fertilizer applications. The larger ones as well can be over wintered, but may not be as productive indoors.. but again once next year rolls around (they have to be hardened off as usual before planting).. they will produce well.

    When the peppers set flowers.. you need to pollinate them. It is as simple as gently jiggling the plant.

    Agreed with Stephen and Mama.. a frost is shorter cold snap.. a freeze is even colder for a longer duration.

    Tomatoes when exposed to cold are not as flavorful. You can even taste the difference between ones grown in areas with cold nights vs warm nights.

    Peppers, when dug up and transplanted to a pot will go through a bit of shock. Try to get as much of the roots as you can to minimize it. If you have vermicompost.. add it to the potting mix liberally.. then make a tea from it and water well so the plant settles in. The natural fertilizers and hormones in the vermicompost will help the plant balance out MUCH more quickly.. aka.. it mitigates some transplant shock.

    If ever you have a greenhouse, or set up to grow indoors.. tomatoes will root rather readily from cuttings. Because cuttings are from mature plants, they as well will set to fruit more quickly than those from seed. Had to do that several times due to a tornado & wicked hail storms.

    Bonus to rooting cuttings.. if you have limited supply of a certain tomato you like, you can multiply them this way.

  4. well...after reading your post, i imagined all of the great advice that i would provide. but Mama Bear and Anne beat me to it!!!!

    i have absolutely nothing additional to add.

    good luck getting them all in.

  5. *sigh*

    Well I posted this question here as well as on some forums, and got mixed responses. I decided to harvest the poblanos, and bring the jalapeno plant indoors. I left the tomatoes on the vine and covered them, but the plants did not make it. I picked the tomatoes anyway and brought them indoors, but I will probably wind up composting most of them. There's too many to make fried green tomatoes. I've seen lots of recipes that use green tomatoes, but most of them are canning recipes, and I read that you shouldn't use tomatoes that have been exposed to a freeze for canning.

    Hard lessons always suck, but that seems to be the way I learn most often.