Results 1 to 12 of 12

Thread: Final harvest timing

  1. #1
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Eagle River, AK
    Posts
    13,392

    Question Final harvest timing

    This is my first year gardening, and as we draw near to the end of the season, I need to figure out when to do my final harvests. First of all, when do I need to pull all of my leafy crops? Can I wait until the day after the first light frost, or are they going to start to die off before that like leaves on the trees? The birch and willow in my yard are starting to turn, so will the same happen to my spinach, lettuce, and kale? We've been eating all three almost every night, but we just can't keep up with the prodigious amount that our garden produced. I don't want to pull it too early, as I figure these crops won't last more than a week or so in the refrigerator, but I also don't want it to go to waste.

    As for carrots and potatoes, I'm under the impression that I should leave those until after the first hard frost. Is that correct? Should I do that only with the potatoes, but pull the carrots earlier?

    I'm clueless in all such things, so any advice would be greatly appreciated. For what it's worth, I'm at about 1,500' in elevation in Southcentral, so I'm sure my first frost will come a week or so earlier than the lower elevations in the surrounding area.

  2. #2
    Member Phish Finder's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Searching for more cowbell!
    Posts
    1,945

    Default

    You could rig a temporary greenhouse over your leafy greens. That will buy you a bit of time. Last year, I cut the remaining leafy greens a couple of days after the first hard frost. They were fine (for me). Sorry, I can't help with the other stuff.
    ><((((>.`..`.. ><((((>`..`.><((((>

    "People who drink light 'beer' don't like the taste of beer; they
    just like to pee a lot." --Capitol Brewery

  3. #3
    Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Interior Alaska
    Posts
    893

    Default

    Brian, In my experience, there are two primary factors in the progression of mortality for your leafy greens; one is the season and the cold, while the other is more to do with the life span of which ever particular veggie is in question. Some veggies will come to the end of their maturity well before frost becomes an issue if they were planted in a timely manner.

    If you have leafy plants that are 'turning' as a result of growth process/cycle (as opposed to nutrients or weather/sun), then they're passing their prime and should be pulled post haste if salvagable.

    Otherwise, leafy greens are more vulnerable to frost; the thinner the edible material, and the less covered by foliage, (in the case of the veggie -being- the foliage, then there's really no cover for it on the plant) the more vulnerable it is.

    If it's a fruiting plant, and the fruits are covered by large leaves, and not an especially vulnerable or fragile fruit, then they can often survive a frost, depending on how hard a frost it is..

    As stated, assuming that the portions of any root crops that stick up above the soil are covered by foliage, then they'll do okay as well. If the root crops are not protruding above soil, then they're good for a frost or two. Frost can transform starches and sugars, just as you've likely witnessed with rose hips, etc.

    How hard it freezes is a part of the key. We've had relatively fragile plants survive a light frosting, and seen hard frosts decimate the majority of the garden.

    In the long run, harvesting of the more vulnerable crops is more or less a game of russian roulette, just as the last moose visit to the garden each year is... Can you read the weather safely? Are you following the forecasts? Should your weather person(s) be in the job they're in? ;^>)

    We've already had frost all around us this year, including ~1/4 mile down the road. But we're somewhat higher in elevation here too. That matters a ton.

    Also, for many crops grown in Alaska, when the average daily temperatures (figuring in number of hours at temp 'X' reaches +50 f. or lower, your plants are mostly (with few exceptions) entering into a phase of dormancy, and your returns are diminished, unless there's a cold-frame or hot houtse (make-shift or otherwise) available.

    If utilizing a make-shift cold-frame (as Phish recommended) is your path, then you might try alternative means of 'central heating' for it. If you have lots of old translucent milk jugs, try filling them with H2O and darker colored food coloring. If you have enough sun, you can leave these filled jugs around the interior perimeter of your cold-frame to gather heat during the sunlit hours, and express that heat during the darkness and colder hours. You can also fill them with hot water in the house and park them out there under the sheeting as well.

    In the end, all of the effort is somewhat a statement of desperation, as the growth cycle will slow down this time of year, and Fall, for better or for worse, is most definitely on the way, with a report of La Nina winter to follow. Brrrrrr.

  4. #4
    Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Interior Alaska
    Posts
    893

    Default

    BTW, with the skies nearly completely overcast this A.M. here, at 9:15 this morning, on our front porch, the temperature was 58 f.

    We're still in the game(!!), and I've yet to put a cover over the lone watermelon in the garden's raised beds. I'm figuring that what ever doesn't kill it, makes it stronger... or sweeter...

  5. #5
    Member Alaska Grandma's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    little log cabin on the river
    Posts
    645

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ruffle View Post
    BTW, with the skies nearly completely overcast this A.M. here, at 9:15 this morning, on our front porch, the temperature was 58 f.
    Ah, lucky you. We had clear skies and down to 28 last night and the first real frost of the season here. Some stuff is still OK...kale, chard, cabbage...as is everything still growing in the greenhouse (it is double plastic walled), but I think this is the end for most of it growing outside uncovered.

    I've got some more canning and herb drying to do soon.
    Lori
    If God had intended us to follow recipes,
    He wouldn't have given us grandmothers. ~Linda Henley

  6. #6
    Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Interior Alaska
    Posts
    893

    Default

    Thanks Lori. I neglected to mention the semi-bullet-proof nature of cabbage, sometimes brussel sprouts, and the sturdier or more rugged 'leaf crops.'

    Our spuds (all ten source varieties) are doing very well. We've managed to fairly well discern early on which ones we'll grow next year from our own seed spuds, and which ones get 86ed from next year's garden. The Warba, Desiree, and Shepody varieties all lack in what we were seeking. One or two of the German Butterball varieties won't get replanted, but the Colorado German Butterball, Colorado French Fingerling, Seattle French Fingerling, Seattle Chieftain, and perhaps all of the Swedish Peanut varieties will be in full production next year. We're anticipating about 500-600 lbs. of spuds this year, counting the ones we'll not grow again next year; six rows at about 50 ft. each, with spuds initially planted at about every foot of mounded row.

    We've been eating LOTS of cole slaw with our cabbage and carrots (using a variety of very nice recipes), and a friend in the bush sent in a whole bunch of cucumbers that we don't typically grow even when we have a greenhouse functioning. I think they were a variety called 'Eversweet,' or something like that, and performed -very well- for him. My daughter's been making lots of sliced cukes with olive oil, sweetener, dill, etc.

    The broccoli is almost done, but for some die-hard side-sprouts, a couple of languishing (but decent) center heads, etc.

    LOTS of peppers and squash yet to go. One particular plant that came from a packet of seeds sold as 'acorn' are actually an INCREDIBLY productive Danish squash by all appearances. We've eaten a bit of that, and I wish I could get another two weeks of serious sun and above-freezing nights, but without an oddly warm Indian Summer to come, we're not likely to see it... Another typical trade-off for the 80 degree f. May weather we had, in my opinion.

    Both the Thai basil and the large-leaf Italian basil are still doing remarkably well, despite the Italian basil going to seed a couple weeks ago. (I stopped trying to stand in the way of nature, figuring it still tastes good, and pinching blossoms in the spud field was already a very wearisome process without taking on the task in other areas of the garden.

    The snow peas seem to be conspiring to bury us in them, so they're appearing in everything from salads to stir-fries. How they can get $5.00/lb. in the stores for something that grows in almost -any- environment or condition, growing like a weed, has always escaped my understanding.

    Moose hunting season's coming, and I intend to keep enough of our plentiful cabbage on hand to make some corned moose and cabbage, as well as re-starting the bacteria in the septic system by shredding a portion of a large head to put down the access pipes to the tank. If there's more left after all of that, then kraut's always on the agenda too.

    Welp, it's back to chores, having had yet another fine garden salad for lunch..

  7. #7
    Member Alaska Grandma's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    little log cabin on the river
    Posts
    645

    Default

    Ruffle, sounds like you had a great season this year. Ours was less than perfect, mice invasion and some major flooding that actually took a big part of an old garden. But I can't complain, it was good enough and we have been eating well. Just the two of us now so a little goes a long ways.

    Hope to meet up with you for an eyeball and some garden chat next time I get to town.
    Back to work for me too.
    Best to you, Lori
    If God had intended us to follow recipes,
    He wouldn't have given us grandmothers. ~Linda Henley

  8. #8
    Member big_dog60's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    between wasilla and palmer
    Posts
    1,061

    Default

    Actually even lettuce will usually take a light frost. There is actually a bit of a trick with your lettuce, if your lettuce freezes during the night cover it before the sun hits it to slow down the thawing during the day. (just enough to avoid the sun from hitting it directly and allow it to thaw as the air warms) Then you can harvest it after it thaws and it should be fine.
    I might be conserned about your spinach, and if you have any chard or if you like to eat your beat greens you may wat to pick them.

    Carrots, potatoes, and other root crops should be fine as long as you harvest before the ground starts to freeze.

  9. #9
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Eagle River, AK
    Posts
    13,392

    Default

    Thanks for the advice, folks. Overall I've enjoyed the experiment. Some of our stuff has succeeded beyond our hopes - our spinach is absolutely going nuts - while other things have only marginally succeeded, but at this point in the game I was feeling clueless. Thanks for the tips.

  10. #10
    Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Interior Alaska
    Posts
    893

    Default

    You're welcome, Brian.
    -------
    Lori, yes, we did fairly well, though starting two weeks late (for the second year in a row) due to getting fixated on not tilling and planting beds until after the ones that were getting rebuilt were finished, cost us that glorious late-Mey and early-June weather we might've otherwise benefitted from. We're seeing the results of that now, with lots of tomatoes and squash that could've been so much more productive than they were..

    My daughter and wife have both been busy making zuchinni bread (both with traditional sweeteners and alternative sweeteners as well), and I've been trying to watch not getting carried away with that. Whole wheat zuchinni bread is truly dense with carbs, but tastes so darned good.

    Anyway, as I said before, any time you or Mark get into town, you're welcome to stop by, say 'Hi," or meet for a coffee in town; which ever suits you.

  11. #11
    Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Interior Alaska
    Posts
    893

    Default

    Thanks for the tip, big dog. I've sometimes considered covering plants before the frost with sheets propped on stiicks or poles, but never utilized them to do a controlled thawing of things as thin-leafed as lettuce and such -after- a frost.

    We might try that, if for nothing else, as an experiment for future reference/use.

  12. #12
    Member 1stimestar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Fairbanks, AK
    Posts
    758

    Default

    For your spinach, wash and drain the leaves, pack them in a freezer bag and vaccum pack them. Put in the freezer. When you are ready to eat them, thaw and fry up in a little bacon grease. I know, kind of negates the healthy aspect but it is tasty that way.
    Alaska, the Madness; Bloggity Stories of the North
    http://cloud9doula.wordpress.com/

    Does this shotgun make my butt look big?

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •