The cold winds of fall breeze through the Valley and frost begins to nip away the life of my garden. A recent inspection of tomatoes, still hanging on, tells me our Indian Summer is just about over and it is time to pluck the mass of green tomatoes and prepare the garden beds for winter.
Green tomatoes can be stored in brown paper bags or cardboard boxes. They ripen this way by making use of natures own ripening gas, ethylene.
Look for tomatoes that have a tinge of color at the blossom end and feel somewhat soft to the touch. Check out the following links for a variety of ripening methods:
Hard tomatoes have not matured and do not ripen, but pick them; there are many ways to cook immature green tomatoes.
Dice them up and mix into muffin batter. Check out www.myrecipes.com for Sweet Green Tomato and Cornmeal Muffin recipe. They are deliciously moist. Spread warmed fresh basil butter on top to compliment your favorite soup on a cold fall day.
Taste of Homes magazine (online too) has a contest winning Tomato Spice Muffin recipe that is a sweet temptation with your morning coffee.
Fry up sliced green tomatoes dipped in tempura batter to a golden brown for a southern style treat or make tomato chutney as a condiment to your favorite Indian dishes.
www.simplyrecipes.com has several green tomato recipes.
After plucking the last of the tomatoes, remove the plants and prepare your garden bed for winter. If you have been composting organic waste, simply chop up the tomato plants and add to your compost pile. You can do this with most all of your garden and yard debris, with exception to diseased plants.
If you are new to composting or want to get a good system going, read my article for thorough instructions and organic ratios:
Planting a fall cover crop is an ideal way to replenish soil nutrients depleted during the growing season and build up the organic integrity of the soil. Rye is a good choice for Idahos climate. It will germinate rather quickly in the cool weather and grow rapidly over a short period producing a lot of foliage. Just be sure to till it before it goes to seed or you will have a weed problem come spring.
Zip me an email at IdahoGardenGirl@gmail.com with questions or ideas for this column.