Green tomatoes are getting all the glory these fall days. Let’s give a little love to underripe squash this week.
With our early frost (and surprise dump of snow!), the squash had to be harvested quickly. It was a harvest of about half ripe, half green. (Helpful tips on the difference here.)
Luckily some warm days followed, and by placing the underripe squash in a warm, dry place that crucially receives sunlight, winter squash will continue to ripen. My mini greenhouse is a perfect place to get a little more time for these squash to mature.
How was your squash harvest this year? Any brilliant tips on further ripening?
It snowed. It snowed before our first killing frost. It snowed before Canadian Thanksgiving.
This meant I had to rush around getting the celery harvested on a cold fall evening way before I was ready to use it. Luckily with my no-dig beds, I just pulled up the stalks, roots and all and plunked them into a big, plastic bowl.
Looking at this bowl of just harvested celery, I thought, “Well, now what?”
My plan was to use it in Thanksgiving recipes such as for the dressing, harvested ideally the day before! While staring at this bowl of cold celery that would most likely go wilty in the fridge before then, I had a brain wave.
I filled the bowl with my harvested vermicompost, watered, and left it downstairs. Much to my surprise, the celery perked up and has remained upright and beautifully green for two weeks now!
I grow Tango celery. While I don’t get large, grocery store celery, the taste makes up for its size. I use the stalks and leaves in soups, stews, and of course, Thanksgiving dressing!
Knock it, poke it, sniff it, shake it. How do you tell when your winter squash is ripe?
Answer: It depends.
For acorn squash the colour turns a dark green, the rind won’t accept a fingernail impression, and the “underspot” turns from yellow to dark orange.
But! for delicata squash, the rind is softer so the fingernail test is not reliable. Ripeness is determined primarily by colour. The white colour turns a creamy yellow and the striations turn a deep green.
Now, buttercup squash are a little different again and I use the colour of the stem as a good indicator. When it changes from green to wizened brown, then I cut it off the plant.
Whatever method you use, let the best, unblemished specimens ripen for a couple weeks to achieve a better taste and better storage.
“I don’t really like tomatoes.” she whispered guiltily. Yet there are usually 3 – 4 varieties growing each year in my backyard garden. Then fall comes and there is a glut of tomatoes adorning the window sills and countertops waiting to ripen or be preserved. I try not to glower too much at these cheery fruit, preferring to gaze longingly at the winter squash curing on the steps. However, tomatoes ripen a lot faster than squash and wait for no one.
This year it was cherry tomatoes. I grew Baby Boomer, Tiny Tim (a grape tomato), and Sungold. They are pretty and prolific and all had to be picked last weekend.
The silver lining is that many other gardeners have shared this same experience so along with the glut of fall tomatoes are an abundance of recipes!
To handle the harvest, I roasted them all in the oven at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes, then squooshed the softened, savory sauce over toasted garlic bread for a super yummy appetizer. Others gardeners have sauced them and then canned them. However you like them, roasting these little tomatoes is a quick and easy and yummy way to cope with an abundant harvest. I wish you well.
These cheery little annuals adorn my backyard garden every year. They function equally well as decoration and as practical workhorse. My father-in-law considers them weeds. I consider winter rye weeds. Que sera!
Marigolds are super easy to grow from seed, aren’t particularly fussy, have few pests, purportedly keep away some bad beasties, nourish the good beasties, and then provide oodles of seeds for next year! Thusly, I am a fan.
I start a couple flats of seedlings inside each spring and plant them out in May along the borders of the vegetable beds. One of the flats of seedlings goes to the library kids to pot on and take home with them on Earth Day. They can either plant up a flower (marigold) or vegetable (lettuce) in a newspaper pot. I’m secretly thrilled if they ask for both!
This past weekend I’ve started harvesting up the seeds for next spring’s marigolds. I’ve separated them out into orange, and what I call red. Right now they’re mixed together in the garden, but next year I may try to coordinate! What colour would you choose?