One of the good things about a cold summer is still getting harvests of summer vegetables now into October. Got another cucumber for summer fall pickles and some tomatoes I have ripening inside which this weekend I used to make some low carb pizzas.
One thing I was especially excited about was my jalapenos finally getting ready to be picked which I will dry and make jalapeno pepper powder which is an excellent addition to eggs in the morning and burgers in the evening providing the taste and kick of jalapenos without the texture and moisture.
I have also picked some green peppers which I will be drying out for my own variation of not so sweet paprika.
Every time I have a discussion with a beginner gardener, this is the most common question. Typically the answer involves figuring out your last frost date then doing some backwards math when to start your seeds or purchase your plants from your local nursery. The problem with this is there is an assumption of the rate at which temperatures will increase after this no frost date. It doesn’t really matter how many weeks after the last frost when you bring out your tomatoes but the fact that it is over 65° F
This is good for estimation but ultimately it comes down to what temperatures various vegetables can survive and thrive at. This is ultimately when you should decide to start bringing those fragile plants outside. For reference the table below shows these temperatures for various vegetables.
eggplants, sweet potatoes, peppers, watermelons, okra, tomatoes
|70° F – 85° F
21° C – 30° C
|65° F – 90° F
18° C – 32° C
beans, black-eyed peas, cucumbers, melons, sweet corn, squashes
|65° F – 75° F
18° C – 24° C
|50° F – 90° F
10° C – 32° C
artichokes, beets, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, collards, endives, fava beans, fennel, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, parsnips, peas, potatoes, radishes, rutabagas, spinach, turnips
|60° F – 65° F
16° C – 18° C
|40° F – 75° F
4° C – 24° C
garlic, leeks, onions, shallots
|55° F – 75° F
13° C – 24° C
|45° F — 85° F
7° C – 30° C
Now that you know what temperatures your veggies grow best in, unless you can find a news station with a 2-3 month forecast this doesn’t help you too much. Fortunately we have been saving weather data for some time now and with some simple statistics you can make a more logical prediction of when this may occur (compared to last freeze date)
One site that makes this very easy is WeatherSpark, it uses historical data with great visuals to easily determine when the best probability of picking the right date to plan on your veggies going out into the great unknown.
As you can see in my area we rarely stay in the thriving temperature zone during a 24 hour period which is the reason why I personally keep my tomatoes and peppers in my automated grow box as long as I can.
Hopefully WeatherSpark can give you some incites about predicting the best times to bring those veggies out for a successful crop this year.
I previously did some analysis on the profitability of vegetables in your garden and there have been requests as well as my own curiosity of how fruits would stack up against fruit trees/bushes.
To keep things simple I made the assumption of fruit trees/bushes are fully mature with maximum yields. So please take into account that you will see some variance throughout the years. I have also used the fair market retail value of fruit when purchased by the pound, obviously all of these could be purchased cheaper by the bushel…but many of us you live in urban areas it can be difficult to make these discounted large purchases nor consume 48 lbs. of apples before they go bad.
After a crunched the numbers I was a bit surprised and happy to see blueberries at the top of the list. I have four blueberry plants already in the ground and two more waiting to be planted. Though one asterisk for this plant is that is take 3-4 years to really start producing but you get several years of good production and by buying a variety of plants with different harvest times, so unlike many other fruits you do not get a huge supply of fruit all at the same time.
Overall fruit compared to vegetables provides a similar range of harvest value depending on the variety. There are a couple of differences that should be taken in to consideration:
- Space: Fruit trees/plants range from a little over a square foot to over 60 square feet per planting
- Time to Maturity: It can take several years for some trees to become mature and start producing high yields.
- Size of Harvest: You could see hundreds of lbs. of produce within a couple weeks. You will need to determine a means to actually use this (canning, pies, forcing on neighbors)
- Commitment: Unlike annual vegetables if you decide you really don’t care for the produce it can be time intensive and expensive to switch out an apple tree for a difference variety.
|Apple (Standard)||$ 6.64|
|Apple (Semi-Dwarf)||$ 6.40|
|Pear (Standard)||$ 2.90|
|Apple (Dwarf)||$ 2.35|
|Pear (Dwarf)||$ 2.10|
|Cherry (Sour)||$ 1.13|
|Cherry (Sweet)||$ 0.84|
As always the common sense principles apply:
- Grow what you like to eat
- Cost is only one factor to consider, you can’t beat real fresh produce
That was a statement my oldest daughter (6 years old) made which I must admit I am pretty sure I was much older before I had that thought. Seemed like a good opportunity for teaching the kids were pickles come from and a great excuse to make some sweet summer pickles. While heading out the door to get some spices we were lacking my wife told me, "these better not be $20 pickles." I have some history here, taking that advice I only came back with just mustard seed and decided to improvise the rest, here is what I came up with.
Cheap Vegetable Gardener’s Sweet Summer Pickle recipe
- 1 cucumber
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 3 T sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp coriander (mine were still a little green from garden)
- 1/4 tsp mustard seed
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
Directions: Pretty easy, just cut the cucumber into slices 1/4 in thick and add all ingredients to sealable container, shake well, and place in refrigerator. Wait at least 3 days and eat. Once empty just add more sliced cucumbers and repeat.