Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Frozen Garden

Have you ever wondered what freezing temperatures do to tomato plants? Me neither. I just sort of knew that once freezing temperatures hit…the scythe of the reaper would strike and that would be that.

And that my tomatoes were on borrowed time.

And then hey, guess what? We just got a couple days of freezing temperatures! And I found out what happens! So I thought I’d share, in the interest of passing along scientific knowledge and all:

tomatoes REALLY don't like cold
Let us have a moment of silence for the tomatoes…

green beans don't like cold
And the green beans.

bell peppers don't like cold
Aaaaaaand the bell peppers.

I didn’t take any pictures of them, but the little pumpkin patch in the front was also killed off by the freeze. Which is a thousand pities, because we were just starting to get wee little pumpkins – they were about the size of golf balls.

They would have done a lot better if I’d realized that Homer the Odyssey was blocking all their sunlight a little sooner than I did. Ahem. Yes. Memo to me: Parking the van so that it shades that portion of garden? Kind of messes up the whole ‘growing things’ thing.

So, that’s the death report. But! The peas? They’re all, “Pffft! It’s not THAT cold! Tomatoes, they’re such drama queens…”

peas are all "WHAT cold?!"

We still haven’t eaten many peas for dinner, though – the Denizens having discovered how sweet they are straight off the vine, I tend to find many, many empty pods discarded on top of the compost heap.

I’d be pissed about it, but – my Denizens are eating peas. Voluntarily! Eagerly! With greed and avarice in their cute little hearts!

So I shut up about it.

And try to get out there once in a while before they come home from the sitters so I can steal my own pod or two.

The broccoli is likewise unimpressed by the repeated flirting with freezing temperatures.

broccoli likes cold

The Brussels sprouts are all tucked safely along the stalks, and frankly I think they like it cold because it has killed off the moths that were cheerfully eating them alive.

sprouts are happy

I didn’t take pictures of them either (it was starting to rain – enthusiastically), but the lemons came through just fine so far; the oranges are…well, they’re the size of grapefruit and not a bit ripe yet. I picked one to satisfy my curiosity, and found it to all pith and almost no “fruit,” and sour enough to launch a rocket.

Meanwhile, the lemons are so sweet you can just eat them raw, right off the tree. Go figure.

The onions are happy, the celery is happy, there is spinach barely coming up (I’m afraid I started that too late, though – we’re starting our freeze a few weeks early, it seems), the carrots are still ending up stunted but mighty sweet, there’s a few bok choy that think they’re going to grow…the golden beets are all safely in tummies and some regular red ones just starting to sprout up…

It’s amazing to me, how much is still insisting on growing out there. I’ve been on pins and needles this week, waiting to see what this sudden freezing snap had wrought out there – all week, I’ve left before dawn and gotten back after sunset, so my glimpses of the garden are shadowy and indistinct.

I was more than a little afraid I would find nothing left.

We’re galloping up on Yule, the shortest day of the year; soon, the days will start to get longer again, and if the rest of the year goes at the same speed the last month has I’ll be leaving after dawn and coming home well before dusk soon.

I can’t wait for that.

But of course the minute I have it, I’ll be complaining…ohmyGAH, I had to spend my whole evening weeding and woe is me the porch needed sweeping (one of the surprises encountered by all this micro-farming stuff is the sheer volume of dust/dirt that now spreads itself all over) and feh, these long days suck because instead of being able to say, “OH WELL, IT’S SO DARK, NIGHT AS WELL JUST SIT DOWN AND KNIT SINCE I CAN’T DO ANYTHING OUTSIDE!!!”, I hafta get stuff done…

Sometimes, I suspect $DEITY would just like to smack! me, you know? “It’s too hot, I can’t stand it…wah! Now it’s too cold, make it stop!...Too dark! Too light! Too short! Too long! We need rain! NOT THAT MUCH!!!”

Ahem. The Denizens inform me that it is time for dinner. And hot cocoa. Not necessarily in that order. They also inform me that I have been on the computer much too long and they would like me to stop. NOW.

Heh. I’m annoying Eldest. She says, “Stop saying what we said and tell me what’s for dinner! I can make it myself! Mommmmmeeeeeeeeeee…!”

(OK, OK, I’ll stop now, and descend back into the Real World where there are hungry children. Geesh.)


emily10 said...

You're not taking Eldest up on the offer to make dinner?! :) I had to cook one day a week when I was a kid, and I got really good at omelettes and clam linguini. Mmmm...

knitinsage said...

my estonian grandmother grew most of her own vegetables, and she called peas "garden candy" -- we'd go the garden just like your children and eat 'em off the vine.

thanks for jogging my memory!

ps -- i was inspired to invent "freezer candy" for my own kids -- frozen raspberries and blueberries -- had 'em fooled for a long time ;-)

Rena said...

wow, things are still growing there? Impressive. Up here it seems everybody's garden is either under cover or dead. I only see leafy greens growing. My own garden, what was left of it, has now evolved into an interesting, sculptural, quit dead science project.