☆ September 30, 2013
It snowed Thursday night. We knew cold was coming, though we were not expecting SNOW. In September! During the day, I had harvested all my herbs and peppers and transplanted basil, thyme, and parsley plants into pots which I carried indoors for the winter. And the jalepeño plant. I don’t expect it to continue producing through the winter, but it is such a beautiful plant.
But my tomatoes! I have another tomato jungle this year, two raised beds full of towering plants heavy with gorgeous green tomatoes still on the vine. I could have picked them green, or pulled the whole plants to hang, but I really didn’t want to do either, since these autumn cold snaps are briefly brutal and then the temperatures head back into the 70’s for weeks until Real Winter hits.
So, Thursday evening, I covered my tomatoes, as the forecast was calling for rain and mid-30-degree lows. Eli meowed at the door at ten or eleven that night, and I opened my door to a snowstorm. I was concerned about my tomatoes, but not worried – it was just barely freezing, the plants were covered, and generally, it’s not coldest while it’s snowing – it’s coldest once it stops snowing.
It snowed through much of Friday, but was obviously going to clear off by sundown, which was when the real tomato-killing cold would arrive. Friday afternoon, Mike and I piled up some granite boulders and built a bonfire around them, to heat the rocks.
At dusk, just as the snow was tapering off and the cloud cover was dissipating, we moved the hot rocks (wearing heavy leather gloves) under the tarp and into the tomato garden, and placed them between the raised beds. I tucked the tomatoes in for the night and hoped for the best!
The next morning, I walked up to the garden at dawn. The temperature outside was 28°F.
Frost coated the grass, and the tarp itself.
I wanted to measure the temperature inside the tomato tent but didn’t dare disturb it so early, so I just slid my hand inside – and it was noticeably warmer. Around 9:30am, the sun was bright and the air temperature had warmed well above freezing, so we unveiled the tomatoes.
LIFE! Success!! They survived beautifully. It’s back in the 70’s this week, so my zillion remaining green tomatoes will have a good chance at ripening, after all.