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First frost/freeze -- what do I need to pick?  RSS feed

 
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This is the first time I have had a producing fall garden. We will get temps close to freezing in the next few days then it should warm a bit with lows in the 40's. I am not sure if I should harvest some stuff now, cover with plastic or what.

Plants include:
Green Beans with lots of growing beans (should I cover with plastic? Or just pick all beans? Some pods have fat beans for next year, should they stay on the plant until dry?)
Cayenne Pepper (should I pick the larger green ones?)
Parsley (Can it survive a frost? Or should I chop it back and dehydrate it now?)
Basil (Should I harvest/dehydrate now?)
Bell Peppers (Can they survive low 30's with one sheet of plastic over them?)

I do have plastic to cover rows if I need to.
 
pollinator
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The following advice will be a bit different since we rarely have the 'rebound' temperatures that you will likely have.

I would pick what beans look good for eating in the near future.....they can be stored in plastic bags in the fridge for a bit and still provide good meals or can be preserved by a method of your choosing.

Same with the peppers...., but store them open to the air on a counter or in a box.

Don't know enough about parsley.

Basil can withstand some frosting temperatures as long as it is covered.  I've found it goes downhill pretty fast after picked, but as you noted it may be destined soon for drying.  Freezing temps tend to do it in.

Pick your best bell peppers and use when able.

For ALL of your plants still in the garden:  You might be amazed at how well they can squeak through if well protected from overnight frosts and mild freezing.  If I lived in Georgia I would certainly be using that warmer climate as much to an advantage as possible.  You mentioned having plastic....any chance you have blankets or tarps on hand for the most valuable items?  These might be more protective than sheets of plastic. The fat beans for planting next year probably will be fine on the vine.....just protect the plants if possible and let the plants die on their own time with the larger bean pods drying down as much as possible (they can dry off the vine if far enough along).  Good luck!
 
master steward
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My parsley survives a frost as long as it doesn't get below, probably, 15 degrees F. Mine continues to live under a layer of snow. Some of it dies back, but I've always been able to harvest some parsley all winter.

Pretty sure the basil will die. I've never had mine survive the winter. I've never tried covering it, though. I'd probably play it safe and dry it all.
 
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I suggest picking the best beans & peppers before the freeze. Same with basil too. They die fast once they get good & cold. A clear plastic tent might keep them alive a little longer. This cold snap isn't expected to last too long or be too severe.

The green cayenne will turn red once it dries.
 
Lucrecia Anderson
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Thank you both for the replies.  

I put a layer of plastic over the beans/bell peppers (there are still lots of beans developing).  It is dark now and I don't want to run around with blankets, I hope the ground is warm enough to keep the beans from getting too cold. Very glad to hear the parsley will probably survive especially since it takes so long to to get to a decent size. That got covered too.

Harvested some basil and am dehydrating it, if the plants get hit bad I would think I could harvest the rest tomorrow and dehydrate that too. Can't see why a freeze would destroy the leaves especially for drying (though I am not sure how much basil I really need especially since it grows so fast).

Kind of sad to say goodbye to the cayenne pepper, it is even covered in flowers. That one plant gave me lots of dried pepper flakes and I am grateful to it for that.
 
Mike Barkley
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You're a couple hundred miles south of me. Yours have a good chance of making it a while longer. Mine were toast a few weeks ago. Good luck.

 
Lucrecia Anderson
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Mike Barkley wrote:I suggest picking the best beans & peppers before the freeze. Same with basil too. They die fast once they get good & cold. A clear plastic tent might keep them alive a little longer. This cold snap isn't expected to last too long or be too severe.

The green cayenne will turn red once it dries.



It will turn green? Wow, didn't know that. Though realistically I probably have 2 years worth of pepper flakes from that plant already. The green beans are the main priority, I was worried they may not produce before cold weather hit and they have done really well.
 
Mike Barkley
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You might want to save some of the cayenne seed to start indoors late winter. Then transplant outside in spring for a longer growing season. A large fully mature cayenne is a thing of beauty.
 
master steward
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I have parsley still alive in the garden and we were in the teens last night.  Basil dies on me when it gets below 40.  This year my pole beans died immediately but the lima beans handled a few frosts (both were on poles).
 
Lucrecia Anderson
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Mike Barkley wrote:You might want to save some of the cayenne seed to start indoors late winter. Then transplant outside in spring for a longer growing season. A large fully mature cayenne is a thing of beauty.



Yup, I started my peppers last January (a bit too early, they were 10" tall and being carted in and out of the house for a month before it was warm enough to keep them outside).

And yes the plant was quite beautiful. An lady from another forum sent me the seeds as she said it was one of her favorites (she lives in east GA). Now it is my favorite too.
 
Lucrecia Anderson
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Mike Jay wrote:I have parsley still alive in the garden and we were in the teens last night.  Basil dies on me when it gets below 40.  This year my pole beans died immediately but the lima beans handled a few frosts (both were on poles).



Have you ever grown purple Trionfo Violetta pole beans? I want to grow some next year, I heard they are really good (they are bright purple on the plant and turn green when cooked). Would make bean picking a lot easier too.
 
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Parsley is a biennial, so will overwinter, basil is an annual, and will not. My parsley bed at my last home was planted once, and allowed to self sow, I took some seeds one year and gave them back to the bed on the off year of the biennial cycle so there was always parsley going that was not reseeding that year.
Basil will also self sow, it just all dies back every year, and comes back up in spring if left alone. I started my basil bed with mixed seeds, so I always had all kinds of odd flavors of basil to pick.

The purple beans are a LOT easier to pick, I love them. I wish they stayed purple when cooked. If you pick them fairly young they are purple raw in salads. When they get older they need cooking.
 
Lucrecia Anderson
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Pearl Sutton wrote:Parsley is a biennial, so will overwinter, basil is an annual, and will not. My parsley bed at my last home was planted once, and allowed to self sow, I took some seeds one year and gave them back to the bed on the off year of the biennial cycle so there was always parsley going that was not reseeding that year.
Basil will also self sow, it just all dies back every year, and comes back up in spring if left alone. I started my basil bed with mixed seeds, so I always had all kinds of odd flavors of basil to pick.

The purple beans are a LOT easier to pick, I love them. I wish they stayed purple when cooked. If you pick them fairly young they are purple raw in salads. When they get older they need cooking.



A few years ago someone gave me a odd flavored Basil plant (possibly lemon pepper) and the smell was repulsive, I thought I hated Basil as a result. Then last winter I got a free pack of Sweet Basil seeds with an order and started a couple of plants. They smell absolutely heavenly! Surprised two different varieties have such a drastically different scent.

The purple beans sound so neat, I think I will grow some over the chicken coop (it has netting on top) so they hang down through the netting for easy picking. I heard they can produce all season long. Plus in the summer I am always a bit nervous about disturbing a rattler or copperhead when hunting for beans in a thick patch, the rattler probably wouldn't be a problem but copperheads are easily spooked and I have heard they don't hesitate to bite.
 
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Lucrecia Anderson wrote:

Kind of sad to say goodbye to the cayenne pepper, it is even covered in flowers. That one plant gave me lots of dried pepper flakes and I am grateful to it for that.



Can you pot it up and keep in a warm window indoors?  It may lose its leaves from the cold tonight but not be dead.



 
Mike Barkley
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Grew a few of the purple pole beans last year. They were excellent. Need to do those again.

Used to live & play around many poisonous snakes. Always carried one of these. Just in case. snake bite kit It's still never far away.
 
Lucrecia Anderson
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Tyler Ludens wrote:

Lucrecia Anderson wrote:

Kind of sad to say goodbye to the cayenne pepper, it is even covered in flowers. That one plant gave me lots of dried pepper flakes and I am grateful to it for that.



Can you pot it up and keep in a warm window indoors?  It may lose its leaves from the cold tonight but not be dead.



I hate to see it die but I live in a really small house and don't have the room (it is nearly 5' tall). The only plant coming inside will be a small  Ephedra Sinica.

Will start another pepper in February.
 
Lucrecia Anderson
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Mike Barkley wrote:Grew a few of the purple pole beans last year. They were excellent. Need to do those again.

Used to live & play around many poisonous snakes. Always carried one of these. Just in case. snake bite kit It's still never far away.



Yeah I keep prednisone and benadryl on hand in case of a bite (two of my dogs were bit by a baby rattler a couple of years ago). Plus one of my dogs went into anaphylaxis due to a bug bite and her throat swelled shut (had a breathing tube for 14 hours).

I learned that one of the risks with a venomous snake bite is massive swelling, if the swelling is bad enough necrosis sets in and the skin/flesh turns black and has to be cut away. Giving steroids asap does a lot to prevent the swelling.
 
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Lucrecia Anderson wrote:

Tyler Ludens wrote:

Lucrecia Anderson wrote:
Kind of sad to say goodbye to the cayenne pepper, it is even covered in flowers.


Can you pot it up and keep in a warm window indoors?


I hate to see it die but I live in a really small house and don't have the room (it is nearly 5' tall).



Your space is what it is, but I am trying an experiment this year after learning that peppers are by their nature tropical perennials.  If they don't freeze, they grow and produce for several years.  Even in my eight-month growing season, it always seems like my pepper plants are only just really starting to produce when frost takes them out.

People with endless indoor space -- fully heated and brightly lit -- swear by bringing in pepper plants and keeping them like indoor citrus or banana trees, where they will continue to produce through your winter.  I don't have that kind of space, or the energy budget.  

But other people say you can transplant them into small pots, prune them heavily so that the foliage doesn't outmatch the size of the root ball in the pot, bring them indoors, and put them in indirect light, indifferent electric light, or whatever you have.  They will be unhappy, says this lore.  They will drop leaves.  They may eventually drop ALL their leaves, although it's better if you can keep them hanging on as scrawny, unhappy, scraggly stems with a few terribly-unhappy leaves still hanging in there.  But if they do drop their last leaves, at that point some of them will be winter dormant and some of them will be dead, and you won't really know which.  At that point you can store them in a closet or any non-frozen dark place until spring (keeping them watered just enough that the root ball doesn't fully dry out, but they are susceptible to root rot/mold if you water too much) and then when spring comes you can soak them well and set them out and see if they revive.  

This is my distillation of a lot of web research and many different accounts.  Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn't.  Some people say it works better for hot peppers than for sweet peppers.  I suspect it depends a lot of details of temperature, humidity, and lighting.  I am trying several different varieties, and I am trying to keep the plants alive with quite a bit of LED light (but not much natural light).  
 
Mike Barkley
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I have managed to dig up & keep a few peppers alive indoors before. Barely. They never really thrived again. Half or more would die over winter & new plantings would always do better than the survivors the next year. I think if you had great indoor light & planted the peppers in containers right from the start they would do much better.
 
Dan Boone
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That's my sister's plan.  When she found out from me that peppers can be multi-season, she instantly went to "why subject them to transplant shock?" and started scheming to grow them in portable containers.  Which I think is a good idea indeed.  Unfortunately I didn't learn about this until about two months ago.  And this was the first year I ever grew any truly successful and robust sweet pepper plants, with stems thicker than my thumb and lots of production.  So I might as well try it.  It works, or it doesn't!
 
Tyler Ludens
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My native pepper plants (Chiltepin) are a couple of years old now.  They died to the ground last winter, but grew back completely and set a huge number of peppers this year.  I wonder if in a colder climate the roots could be kept alive over winter by covering with mulch and protecting from excess moisture.

 
John Weiland
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Lucrecia Anderson wrote:The only plant coming inside will be a small  Ephedra Sinica.



If you don't mind my asking, where does one get seed or stock of this plant?
 
Pearl Sutton
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Lucrecia Anderson wrote:
A few years ago someone gave me a odd flavored Basil plant (possibly lemon pepper) and the smell was repulsive, I thought I hated Basil as a result. Then last winter I got a free pack of Sweet Basil seeds with an order and started a couple of plants. They smell absolutely heavenly! Surprised two different varieties have such a drastically different scent.


There are a LOT of flavors of basil, it's an amazing plant. I had in that mixed bed: sweet, Genovese, spicy globe, lemon, purple, lime, cinnamon, licorice and Thai that I'm sure of. Not sure what kind of hybridizing was going on :) Always something yummy to eat, and different types did better when the weather was one way or the other, so there was always something doing well. In the New Mexico heat, lemon and spicy globe basil did best, when it cooled down the purple and licorice did best for me. And sweet and genovese were always amok.  List of basil cultivars: Wikipedia And most types of basil are heirloom/open pollinated, and very easy organic. Basil Seeds: Eden Brothers Come to the dark side, we have basil!! :D

The purple beans sound so neat, I think I will grow some over the chicken coop (it has netting on top) so they hang down through the netting for easy picking. I heard they can produce all season long.


Any of the pole type beans produce all season, as far as I know, never heard of any that don't. If your chickens can reach them, they might be helping you harvest them, chickens can jump if there's something tasty looking!! If you want to grow things on the netting for easy harvest, consider a rowdy cherry tomato plant, they will grow up and over and you can pick them easily. More New Mexico gardening stuff: I had a welder make me a big diagonal trellis system, the front sloped side was a shade trellis, the plants grew behind it, and up it, made them easy to harvest, and cut the sunburn. it was a lovely shady veggie infested cave back there :) I had cherry tomatoes, pole beans, and Armenian cucumbers (which are technically an immature cantaloupe variety, let one grow too big and cut it, it's weird!) all of which would go up 10 feet or more, and shade the other plants behind them.
 
Mike Barkley
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My native pepper plants (Chiltepin) are a couple of years old now.  They died to the ground last winter, but grew back completely and set a huge number of peppers this year.  I wonder if in a colder climate the roots could be kept alive over winter by covering with mulch and protecting from excess moisture.  [/quote

I have yet to keep an outdoor chili petin alive through TN winter. Not for lack of trying. Only a few have lived long enough to have fully mature peppers. This year I plan on keeping a few in containers. Every time I make enchiladas or salsa my TX seed supply dwindles. Sooner or later I WILL get a chili petin & a fig tree capable of surviving winters here. Doing my best to also teach the 'billies that tamales don't belong in paper wrappers. Seriously folks? Papel no tiene sabore. While I'm on the subject ... ketchup is NOT enchilada sauce.

 
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The wind blew off my newspaper cover that was under nylon netting last night in the frost.   The Jade bush beans got hit pretty hard, I was ready to cut them off today, but we have another freeze coming on Tuesday and I let that take them out.  My field peas were not happy with the frost last either, sagging this morning, and this afternoon.  Funny the 6 inch favas suffered too, the smaller ones ok.  Cereal rye happy.  Plus hairy vetch and perennial rye ok too.
 
Lucrecia Anderson
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John Weiland wrote:
If you don't mind my asking, where does one get seed or stock of this plant?




Ebay. Be sure to read the ads carefully though, half the sellers list it as Ephedra Sinica but then put Ephedra Nevadensis/Mormon Tea in the description (and Mormon Tea does not contain ephedrine). Though a couple of the sellers look legit.

It is very hard to germinate even with stratification/scarification etc...and most only seem to get 1 out of 20 seeds to grow. I had 2 germinate (after 2 months) but then one seedling died. May order more seeds and try again this winter. This is the plant at 9 months old, it seems to be doing pretty good.

 
John Weiland
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Lucrecia Anderson wrote:

Ebay. Be sure to read the ads carefully though, half the sellers list it as Ephedra Sinica but then put Ephedra Nevadensis/Mormon Tea in the description (and Mormon Tea does not contain ephedrine).



Thanks for the source and the extra concerns!.....
 
Lucrecia Anderson
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John Weiland wrote:
Thanks for the source and the extra concerns!.....



Ebay is my go-to-source when I want to order seeds.. They always have a source or two for even really rare herbs/flowers as well as uncommon veggies and the prices always beat the big websites and seed catalogues.

 
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We are getting a freeze tonight in Texas. Sadly, i didnt get any vine ripened tomatos in fall garden. Had to pick them.
20181112_165909-480x640.jpg
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Lucrecia Anderson
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wayne fajkus wrote:We are getting a freeze tonight in Texas. Sadly, i didnt get any vine ripened tomatos in fall garden. Had to pick them.



Wow that is a lot of really nice looking tomatoes! I am jealous.

I didn't get any vine riped tomatoes all summer (too many insects) except cherry tomatoes. Next year I will grow more of those as they always do the best.

We didn't get a real frost/freeze either. Instead it is cold and rainy for the next few days which is good since I just scattered a bunch of lettuce seeds. Also it gave me time to harvest a bunch more tobacco leaves.
 
Michael Moreken
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Left my Jade bean bush plants with there withered leaves right where they are.  :) Chives are happy.  Lemon thyme plant 50% might make it.

Yea I covered my jade beans the first couple of frosts, one down to 24°F.  But the last one blew away my cover, so I said let go.
 
Lucrecia Anderson
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Yeah we have had 3 nights where the temp was supposed to drop to 32 degrees, I covered the beans in plastic each time and they are fine, plus the uncovered beans are fine too!

I don't think it has actually dropped that low since there has been no sign of ice in the chicken water dishes etc... Though most all of the bigger tomato plants got cold burned and were pulled out today, the basil did too.

I also did some weeding as I want to have the ground prepared for Dec/January pea and poppy planting.   Already looking forward to starting some transplants for next year! Will try hard to wait until February though.
 
Lucrecia Anderson
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Michael Moreken wrote:Left my Jade bean bush plants with there withered leaves right where they are.  :) Chives are happy.  Lemon thyme plant 50% might make it.



Oh, you were talking about your chickens. If you aren't already you might want to start giving them whole corn right before bed. Corn is supposed to keep them warmer, it is very slow to digest which feeds them calories all night long to fuel their little bodies (like when people eat a bowl of oatmeal before bed, same principle).
 
What kind of corn soldier are you? And don't say "kernel" - that's only for this tiny ad:
Soil Testing: Genius or Snapshot of the ever-changing?
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