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Harvesting veggies in November

November 19, 2009

Well, how does that look?

I’m pretty pleased – that’s a November vegetable harvest from my garden in Port Alberni!

In this photo you’ll see freshly picked celery, brussels sprouts and swiss chard.  I picked the peppers and tomatoes (green) about a month ago, and have been letting them ripen slowly inside.

OK, I know that you can’t be doing this right across Canada – our Vancouver Island climate is a bit milder.  But still, there is a lot that you can harvest even into the first frosts – most of the cabbage family (especially kale, usually one of my standards, but I did not have access to the garden in Port Alberni until July, which is too late to seed it) as well as cabbages and brussels sprouts.  Many of these can take quite a hard frost – in fact, they get even more tender and flavourful after a good frost –  so you can be harvesting them until late autumn or early winter, even in the snow.

I also just picked my last lettuces a week ago, too.  So really, there is a lot we can do up here.

A hint with the tomatoes: if you live in places that get hot summers, you can probably ripen them up just fine on the vines.  But, if you live in a place where it doesn’t get that hot (like here in Tofino) or if you start the plants too late (like I did in Port Alberni this year), if you pick the fruits green, you can ripen them indoors over a period of months – I mean it, I’ll still be eating fresh home-grown tomatoes until the end of November!

The tricks for ripening them inside are:

1.  Pick them before the weather gets too cold and wet, and definitely before your first frost – otherwise they may get blight or other fungus.  Indoors, that fungus will grow and spread faster than the tomatoes can ripen (so if any of your fruit are showing signs of it, get rid of them right away – they have no hope).

2.  But leave them on the vine as long as you safely can before picking.  The bright green ones that have not reached full size yet have more trouble ripening – they met rot or just wither up before ripening.  But if they have reached fullsize (you can kind of tell both by size and by colour, they become more of a yellowish green) they will likely ripen up if you follow steps 3 and 4.

3.  Make sure they get good air circulation, so they don’t rot or mould.  I find they work better spread out or stacked very slightly on a tray, than in a bowl.  They may ripen slightly faster in a bowl, but you really have to keep an eye on the ones further down.  Remove any that show signs of rot or mould immediately.

4.  Do not put them in the sun!  Sure, you can put nearly-ripe red ones there – but if you put green ones there they will probably dehydrate before they ripen.  Don’t let them get too cold or too warm – just room temperature works fine.

So there you go – still eating mostly local here in Canada in the last weeks before winter.  Here’s my lunch today:  my home-grown celery stir-fried up with the local sockeye salmon I canned up in the fall and brown rice (OK, not local, I am still working on that), with those tender little sprouts steamed on top.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. punkybee permalink
    November 20, 2009 9:08 pm

    I am so impressed with your tomatoes in November in Alberni! Nicely done! I made relish out of all my still-green tomatoes at the end of this summer but I will try this next year, thanks!

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