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The End of the Season

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The seasons come and go so fast, don’t they? Now another is quickly ending. Our average first frost is October 17. Thats the date for the official weather site at Milwaukees Mitchell Field. If you live close to Lake Michigan it could be considerably later, and if you live west of I-94 it would be earlier. A few things are still happening in our garden. Although its been cool, the small raspberry patch has been producing a bowl of fruit about twice a week. This is the variety called ‘Heritage’ (Milaeger’s best seller) and even though I know it bears twice every year, I’m always a little surprised and delighted when the fall fruit appears. Some years the autumn fruit is very small but this year the berries are nice and fat. I’ve had no frost at my place yet, so I’m hoping I can pick berries into November.

A few tomatoes remain on my straggly plants. The fruit looks good but they no longer have the taste they had in August. Warm temperatures are needed to get true tomato taste. So much of our recent weather has been in the high thirties and forties that the current fruit isn’t that far from the winter fruit at the grocery store. Can’t do much about that. We’re always looking for better cherry tomatoes, because they’re so popular. Most people probably dont realize it, but ounce for ounce, they have many more vitamins than large tomatoes. Plus, sometimes kids wont eat tomatoes, except for the cherries, so that can be a good way for them to get some nutrition. Artemis’ was one of the new ones we tried this year. It has some interesting characteristics. It is indeterminate, but a very short grower. Our plant was no more than 30” tall. The fruit was smaller than most cherries, but sweet. The unusual feature is the skin, which was either very thick or very firm, or both, so they hardly ever crack. We’re not yet sure if we’ll offer it next year. Another new one is ‘Pink Champagne.’ Also on the short side, it grew to about 48”, but bore fruit all summer. This plant had pinkish, grape shaped fruit. It wasn’t overly sweet, so I think we will not be adding it to our list for next year. The last red one we grew got to be quite tall, well over 72” and bore fruit all season. This was ‘Rapunzel.’ It’s fairly crack resistant, even though its skin was normal, and not at all tough. Weve been growing this one for a couple years, and we plan to have it next year, too. The last cherry we grew was Sun Sugar.’ This one is always a delight because of its sweetness and it didnt disappoint. Although I like this one a lot, if I could only grow one cherry tomato it would not be this one. Even though it’s fun to eat, it lacks that tomatoey flavor that red fruited types have, and what tomato lovers crave. Weve been growing Sun Sugar’ for many years and its the favorite of many, so well be offering it as long as we can get the seed.

The peppers still taste good, and the plants have held up pretty well. There isn’t much fruit left, but what there is tastes great. I don’t eat the hot peppers, but I like to grow them. When the fruit changes to their final color, they are really beautiful. Hot pepper plants generally need a very long season. And a hot summer helps them mature earlier. This year we had a few hot days, but no long hot spells that I remember. So my first fruits on ‘Fatali’ finally matured in mid September. It’s possible to dig up your plants and grow them indoors, but with little sun in the cold months, supplemental light would be a good idea. Maybe I’ll dig one up and try it in one of our greenhouses, just for fun.

You may recall that my first late season crop of radishes failed. I think it was due to a couple of very hot days in August, but that’s just a hunch. When I realized they weren’t going to grow properly, I scuttled them with a hoe and planted a second batch of seed. I pulled the first radishes last week, about five weeks after planting the seeds. I made sure I watered them at least three times a week, which is important for radish success. I thinned out the seedlings about a week after they sprouted, but I should have removed even more seedlings. Some of the plants are having trouble maturing because they’re too crowded. After all these years, you’d think by now I would have learned that lesson.

I planted the fall lettuce crop around September 1st, and we’ve been harvesting leaves for several weeks now. I prefer to pick the outer leaves so the plant will continue to produce. Some folks allow the plant to reach full size and then harvest it. What you do will depend on which varieties you grow, and your personal harvest preference.

One surprise in the garden was a couple of squash that were maybe planted by a squirrel. They germinated very late, probably July, and so didn’t bear until late. At season’s end the larger fruit is about the size of a soccer ball. It’s still green, with beautiful markings. The smaller one will probably not fully develop. These should be picked when the stems turn brown and start to shrivel. Sometimes these serendipitous happenings are what make gardening so much fun.

Please email me ( with your questions and comments!


Click on the links below to view the 2019 Tomatomania results


By Category



October 2020 - The End of the Season
September 2020 - Planting Now for Fall Harvest
August 2020 - Midsummer Garden Notes
July 2020 - Cukes Now! Tomatoes for the Fourth?
June 2020 - Tomato Plant Supports and Fertility
May 2020 - Time to Plant
April 2020 - Making Salads More Memorable
April 2020 - Victory Gardens Then and Now
April 2020 - Turn Off the News and Get in Your Garden
March 2020 - Stay Healthy---Plant Some Greens
February 2020 - Winter Planning, Winter Reading


September 2019 - Planting Fall Greens---what's your excuse?
September 2019 - 2019 Tomatomania Review
August 2019 - The Hypochondriacal Garden
July 2019 - Tomatoes 2019---A New Record!
June 2019 - Tomatoes---Early Summer Progress Report
June 2019 - Dwarf Tomatoes---The Next Big Thing
May 2019 - The Urge to Plant is Getting Stronger
April 2019 - Eat Food. Not too Much. Mostly Greens
April 2019 - Jefferson's Tomatoes & Tomato Nutrition
March 2019 - The Year of the Potato
March 2019 - Tomatoes---America's Favorite Vegetable
February 2019 - The Greens are Coming
January 2019 - Long, Chilly Nights Make Me Think of Tomatoes


June 2018 - Learn the Rules Before You Break Them
May 2018 - To Plant or Not to Plant
March 2018 - Brrr...Can You Plant this Early?
February 2018 - February's Climatological Shift


October 2017 - Remember: Every Tomato Variety is Someone's Favorite
August 2017 - A Tomato Miracle
July 2017 - Our Big Garden & Some Unpleasant News
June 2017 - Mid-June Tomato Report
June 2017 - Tomatoes----The Acid Test
April 2017 - It's Time to Plant Onions
April 2017 - Raspberries: It's time for annual pruning
March 2017 - Warning! Internet Garden Danger!
March 2017 - Tomato Talk---Shorter Varieties are Trending
March 2017 - It's Only the Start of March, but...
February 2017 - Tasty Greens and Winter Tomatoes
February 2017 - Green is Right Around the Corner


October 2016 - Autumn Greens, Eggplant and more
September 2016 - The Tomato Polls are Closed, the Winner is...
September 2016 - Pity the Hornworm? Maybe not.
August 2016 - It's true!---Sometimes tomato beauty is only skin deep!
July 2016 - Summer Heat Means Fast Ripening
July 2016 - July Tomato Update---a few concerns
June 2016 - The Great Bell Pepper Challenge!
June 2016 - Super Start for 2016 Vegetables!
May 2016 - Tomato Planting Date Inches Closer!
May 2016 - Vintage Veggies Now & Disease Resistant Tomatoes!
April 2016 - A Few New Plants & Garden Updates!
April 2016 - Go Outside---It's Time for Planting!
March 2016 - Yep! ----It's Time to Plant Greens! 
March 2016 - The Quest for the Perfect Tomato
March 2016 - Think Green! It's almost time to plant
February 2016 - Pepper Pointers: it's all about patience
February 2016 - I See Greens on the Horizon
January 2016 - Tomato Disease --- What can you do?
January 2016 - Tomatoes on my Mind!


November 2015 - My Late Harvest (The tomato picking continues...No Kidding!)
October 2015 - Its Mid-October---the End is Near!
September 2015 - 2015---Not the Year of the Pepper!
September 2015 - Top Varieties at Tomatomania 2015!
September 2015 - Get the most from September tomatoes!
August 2015 - Tomatomania 2015---Coming Soon!
August 2015 - Oh No!!!......Freaky Tomatoes
July 2015 - A Marvelous Community Garden
July 2015 - Finally----the first ripe tomato
July 2015 - Is it Possible to overdose on peas?
July 2015 - The Garden in July --- I'm still planting!
June 2015 - And Just When Things Were Looking So Good...
June 2015 - Tomatoes, Cukes, and a Whimsical Onion
June 2015 - Trials and Tribulations in the Veggie Garden!
May 2015 - Trouble in Tomatoland!
May 2015 - Tomatoes are Claustrophobic
May 2015 - A Little Chilly, but it's Rhubarb Time!
May 2015 - Joan's Rhubarb Torte Recipe
April 2015 - "Ketchup and Fries" plant video
April 2015 - Early May in the Vegetable Garden
April 2015 - What Vegetables Can I Plant Now?
April 2015 - Making Salad Interesting
March 2015 - Ready... set... GROW!
March 2015 - Unusual Potatoes --- Not Just for Tots Anymore!
February 2015 - Next Month is Spring!
February 2015 - Greens to Grow 2015



September 2014 - Tomatomania Review 2014!
September 2014 - Tomatomania Results by Category or Cummulative
August 2014 - Kale! Kale! The Greens are Here! Click here for Recipe
August 2014 - The August Harvest Begins
July 2014 - Greens to Grow for Fall!!!  Click here for Spreadsheet
July 2014 - My Tomatoes are Blushing
June 2014 - Some Tomato Concerns
May 2014 - Garden Update --- the Cold Weather Experiment
May 2014 - Is it Time to Plant Tomatoes?
May 2014 - Vintage Veggies #4 and Vintage Veggies List 2014
April 2014 - A Chilly Spring... What Can I Plant Now?
March 2014 - Start Growing Your Own Food Right Now
February 2014 - Greens to Grow   Click here for Spreadsheet


October 2013 - Keep Calm and Garden On!
October 2013 - Autumn Vegetables
September 2013 - Tomato Popularity Poll Results Blog
September 2013 - Tomatomania Category and Cumulative Results
September 2013 - Tomatomania 2013 BlogVideo and T-Shirt
August 2013 - Greens to Grow and Spreadsheet
July 2013 - Spaghetti Squash
July 2013 - New Tomato and Zucchini Recipe Blog
July 2013 - Tomato and Zucchini Recipe
June 2013 - Cold Spring - What it Means for Vegetables
May 2013 - Tomatoes in Containers
May 2013 - Vintage Veggies 2013
April 2013 - My Tomato Garden Preview 2013
April 2013 - Don't Forget Rosemary!
April 2013 - It's Planting Time
March 2013 - Onions
March 2013 - Vintage Veggies
March 2013 - Greens to Grow Update
February 2013 - Hot Peppers
February 2013 - Grafted Tomatoes
February 2013 - Greens to Grow


September 2012 - Tomatomania Results
July 2012 - Compass Plant
July 2012 -July 2012 - Heat Wave
June 2012 - Okra
June 2012 - Potato Onion
May 2012 - Gas Plant
May 2012 - My Tomato Garden
May 2012 - Vintage Veggie Fest
March 2012 - Growing Raspberries in SE Wisconsin
March 2012 - Winter Tomato Project
February 2012 - Success with Sweet Peppers
February 2012 - Vegetable Cukes Miniature 
January 2012 - Tomatoes New Varieties


September 2011 -Tomatomania Review  
August 2011 - Tomatomania Preview
August 2011 - Racine Vegetable Garden Tour
July 2011 - Vegetables in my Garden
July 2011 - Vegetables - Squash and Tomatoes
June 2011 - Vegetables - Diseases made Simple
June 2011 - Vegetables - Container Growing
May 2011 - Vegetables - Squash and Tomatoes
April 2011 - Vintage Veggie Fest Event Preview
March 2011 - Vintage Veggie Fest Announcement


September 2010 - Tomatomania Review  
August 2010 - Flowers Late Summer Color 
July 2010 Vegetables Cukes and Tomatoes 
June 2010 Tomatoes New Varieties


September 2009 - Tomatoes End of Season Review  
September 2009 - Tomatomania Review
July 2009 - Tomatoes General and Fruit Set Problems
June 2009  - Tomatoes Fertilization
June 2009  - Tomatoes Personal Experience 
May 2009 - Tomatoes General
May 2009 - Tomatoes Diseases
May 2009 - Tomatoes Selecting and Growing
April 2009 - Tomatoes General