By the end of the first week in November, we were starting to take the last real harvests of the 2015 season. Kale, collards, Fox Cherry tomatoes, Hot Portugal peppers, a few late-planted bush beans, and a few stray Shishitos were in the mix.
Our first frost was November 25th, but it was only for one night; temperatures rebounded back up into warmer territory immediately and the next frost was not until mid-December. Many of the largest, ripest tomatoes and peppers we set aside for seed saving day. I was ready to throw in the towel on our Brandywines, but we were still a few pounds short of my goal of 80 lbs of total harvest this season… so I left them on the vine in hopes they might ripen. A few of them did, but I picked this bunch while they were just starting to turn, so I could ripen them indoors away from any imminent frost. I put them in bags with ripe bananas and we were able to get most of them, along with a couple of dozen cherry tomatoes, to ripen into their preferred state of omelette-readiness.
Shishito peppers, as well as our Hot Portugal peppers, were still hanging in there. We took the last of them in, saved a few of the largest and ripest ones for seed-saving, and took down the plants. Pepper plants are remarkably resilient, seemingly unaffected by most inclement weather.
Our fragile but plucky bush beans, which we had planted quite late in the season (early September?), were proving to have potential. Although we only harvested a handful of beans, and mostly small ones at that, it was more than I had thought we would get considering their late start. I think if we put these guys into spots left behind midseason by other spent plants, we should have a better harvest next year. It’s refreshing to have some beans around that I don’t have to wrestle with—pole beans can really take over.
As the season wound down, we found ourselves with a bit more room, so we spread the collards and kale out to bring some life to the unfortunate concrete slab that fills the center of the garden. The cold nights were not quite cold enough to kill off the last of the aphids, and we were getting tired of battling them. Behind the pots, you can see the first signs of our cover crops starting up in the side bed near the fence.
I had left a few Brandywine tomatoes on the vine more as a Hail Mary than anything, hoping they would bring us over our goal of harvest for the season.
In the end, they pulled through. I really could not believe that an heirloom tomato as large as this guy was ripe on the vine at the end of November. A couple of extra days of ripening indoors and this bunch put us over the top for our goal.