What to do when Winter Comes…in May

Folk wisdom in our parts holds that you should be safe to plant annuals, vegetables, and what-not after May 15th. So of course there was a frost warning on for last night. And of course, my husband had actually managed to get all of our vegetables in the ground early this year, getting everything settled last week:

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Wonderful, right? We were determined not to lose anything. But our sheet collection was already claimed by some tender Japanese Maples and baby trees we wanted to cover, so what to do? I hit upon the idea of buying some extra paper yard waste bags and popping them over the tomato cages for the tomato plants. We’ll use the bags soon enough in our battle against the weeds, and I figured they’d be quick to put in place and would provide ample protection against any frost. Take a look:

Easy as pie!

On the recommendation of a customer from my job, we also tried using a large empty plastic cat-litter bin over one larger tomato plant that we hadn’t caged yet, and an empty plastic coffee bin over a pepper plant. But we didn’t have enough empty stuff in our recycling bin to cover everything in our veggie patch, and I’m a bit leery of using plastic stuff for this purpose. Plants can get damaged if they’re touching the plastic and it freezes. So for the rest of our pepper and okra plants, we used paper sandwich bags.

Much like with the yard waste bags, we opened them first. Then we ripped about an inch up along each of the corner folds so we could make little flaps. We placed the bags over our little uncaged veggies and put dirt on the flaps to hold things in place as it was a bit windy. Here’s how everything looked covered up:

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I am pleased to report that, although we did experience some frost, bagging our veggies did the trick. Everything looked wonderful once it was safe to uncover things. Will absolutely remember this option in the future!

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Fried Okra

Our veggie garden has had a tough time of it this summer with the drought and the blazing heat.  Still, some things are starting to produce.  Our okra plants have been doing quite well.

Okra growing in our veggie patch.

In the same family as hibiscus plants, okra is quite pretty.  Its blooms are pretty showy.  After they’re spent, they develop into the long, slender, edible seed pods.  I picked a bunch and then my husband sliced, battered, and fried them up, yum!

Frying up the okra!

Our pug, Apple, was pretty sure some of the okra was for her.

Down-home deliciousness!

Besides the okra, the tomatoes are finally starting to come in, too.  Not a huge yield this year, but there is nothing tastier than a fresh heirloom tomato, so I’ll take whatever I can get.

Vegetable Garden

Since we have five dogs, it quickly became apparent to us that we would need to enclose our vegetable patch if we wanted to be able to eat anything from it!  First we tried one large raised bed with temporary green metal mesh fencing around it.  Unfortunately, it was nearly impossible to get to any of the veggies in the middle once they’d grown a bit.  A few years ago, we installed this, instead:

Picket fencing encloses the raised beds, with pea gravel paths between them for easy access to the plants.

Gate into veggie patch. Our garden is generally in a sort of “cottage garden” style, I guess.  I find that I like the element of structure and order that the enclosed veggie garden gives to the yard, the contrast between it and the casualness of the plantings around it.

My husband planted the veggies and herbs that he picked out at the OSU plant sale.  He put in:

2 Eva Purple Ball tomato plants

2 Black Prince tomato plants

2 Black from Tula tomato plants

2 Green Zebra tomato plants

2 Pineapple tomato plants

2 Costoluto Genovese tomato plants

3 Kalman’s Hungarian Pink tomato plants

6 sweet pepper plants, 2 Golden Summer peppers, 2 Better Belle peppers, and 2 that should be purple but  from which the tags were missing

3 Fish pepper plants

2 purple jalapeno plants

6 okra plants, 3 each of the ‘Millionaire’ and the ‘Burgundy’ varieties

1 Italian Parsley

1 Hot & Spicy Oregano

1 Sweet Marjoram

2 Lemon Basil plants ‘Mrs. Burns’ variety

2 Holy Basil plants

1 Sweetleaf

Should be delicious!

watering the newly planted pepper and okra plants in the veggie garden.

Grow little plants, grow!