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Still harvesting beautiful tomatoes in late October -- amazing!

Still harvesting beautiful tomatoes in late October — amazing!

Growing vegetables is not easy in the high desert climate of Central Oregon, where nights are cold and days are dry and windy. But this summer we’ve had the most favorable weather conditions I’ve seen in the past 10 years: very warm nights all summer, and that’s persisted into late October. Still harvesting tomatoes, chard, raspberries, strawberries, green beans, winter squash. Have yet to dig potatoes and carrots. This has been the harvest that won’t quit. But today irrigation will get blown out for the winter, so time to do final harvest and start cleaning up.

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I enjoy living in a rural area where I can grow fruits and vegetables. But I love to see what urban farmers are accomplishing using only the space of a city or suburban lot. Blogger Ro Kumar makes an interesting case for why urban farming is not merely a good thing, but the most important movement of our time. Read what he has to say.
In the same vein, this amazing video shows what one family in Los Angeles produces on their lot.

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This first season of Smith Rock Farm has been an experiment on a lot of different levels: trying new (to me) techniques, new varieties, and most importantly, a new lifestyle. Results? Mixed. More successes than failures. It feels good to be able to bring my horse to my own barn and feed him hay that I grew, and to know the barn is full with enough to feed him until next summer’s cuttings. It was satisfying to be able to sell my organic produce. Surprising that I was the only vendor at Central Oregon Locavore selling tomatoes. Next year I’ll plant even more tomatoes. I look forward to serving my own potatoes, squash and carrots on Thanksgiving.
Most of all I’ve loved being in control of my own time, being able to work on my priorities rather than an employer’s. Although it’s only been three months since I quit my job, it’s been the happiest three months of the year.

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Garden cloche

A garden cloche to protect frost-sensitive plants is much easier to build and far less expensive than a greenhouse. Photo courtesy of Oregon State University Extension Service.

We grow our tomatoes in cloches, so on cold nights we close up each cloche and we’re able to keep our plants several degrees warmer. You can get directions for how to build one from Oregon State University extension service.
Green tomatoes

If they are mature enough, green tomatoes can be ripened indoors. Photo by Judy Scott, OSU Extension Service.

If the overnight lows get down into the mid-20s, even a cloche is not going to save tomatoes. But you can pick them green and successfully ripen them indoors. Learn how. We do this every year and make sauce or salsa in the fall to enjoy all winter.

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