Gardentalk — How to stretch your harvest well into fall

Cold sink buckets
These buckets of water, particularly when placed inside a greenhouse, can delay or even prevent the effects of a frost or sharp freeze. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

Temperatures are dropping, and the amount of daylight is diminishing rapidly each day. But it’s hardly the time to give up entirely on gardening.

Master Gardener Ed Buyarski says he’s stopped watering his greenhouse tomatoes as a way to force them to ripen.

“Peppers, eggplants, zucchini, squash — all of those are pretty tender. They, too, are kind of semi-tropical,” Buyarski says. “We can wrap them up in fleece blankets (or) put buckets of water in around them, that helps slow the freezing process.”

The fleece blankets will provide as much as five degrees of insulation. The buckets of water will act as cold sinks, delaying or even preventing freezing in some cases.

For potatoes, cut off the plant above the soil and put a tarp over the mound. That will keep the potatoes dry and help the skins toughen up before digging them up for indoor curing.

“Our carrots, cabbages, kale, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas — I guess all those cabbage family plants particularly — will get better with colder weather,” Buyarski explains.

“Their sugar content increases,” he says. “So, we can leave them out there and just harvest them as we need them until a really hard frost threatens, that might actually freeze the soil.”

Buyarski says he’s even harvested brussel sprouts, carrots and parsnips late into the fall and early winter.

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