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Jessica’s Garden: The First Knock of Old Man Winter


This week has been a little bittersweet. While admittedly, my patience for prepping and cooking tomatoes was waning, I am sad to see them go. And I am particularly sad to lose most of the herb garden. There’s nothing like the first frost to remind you of what’s to come in short order. With our first frost over the weekend, I spent a couple of hours out in the garden with my son on Saturday, picking everything viable that was left in the Summer garden. We harvested all the tender herbs, peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos and the remaining Fall Dipper Gourds. While I was sad to see it go, Grayson was shocked he was allowed to pick whatever he wanted, including the green tomatoes.


I’ve spent quite some time now preparing the herbs for drying.  Due to the mass quantity of them, while I would normally be inclined to dehydrate them, I have chosen to hang and dry them the old fashioned way. With the humidity from the Summer gone, they will dry well just as they are. In the Summer, I prefer to use the oven or a countertop dehydrator.  The humidity of a Maryland Summer always makes me suspicious that my herbs will not dry entirely and end up  mildewy in their jars.

The remaining ripe tomatoes will be prepared into sauce and frozen for post-baby, quick Winter suppers for our family, as ‘pasghetti’ is one of our son’s favorites. And maybe I should, but I never feel guilty about serving him sauces that I know are loaded with vegetables and served with whole grain pasta. I am in the midst of preparing the hefty harvest of green tomatoes for Green Tomato Chutney. It’s a tart and rich chutney my aunt introduced me to; perfect when paired with a sharp white cheddar. I am working hard towards getting as many Christmas goodies out of the way ahead of time as possible.

While I haven’t entirely decided what to do with the massive pepper harvest, I think some will end up in sauce. Others will be dried for infusing chili and stews, and I may try a new recipe for Hot Pepper Jelly; something I’ve learned appeals to the masses.  The tomatillos will be roasted and made into salsa verde- one of my favorites. And the dipper gourds will adorn our porch through the Fall and be dried- hopefully destined to be made into bird houses in the Spring.  And just for posterity, I took one last snap of the wildflower garden still in full bloom, before the frost took the last of it overnight.



Posted By: Jessica J. Crawford Behnkes Garden Blogger

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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  1. Jessica, could you please send me the recipe for green tomato chutney. I have very many green tomatoes and I don’t want them to rot!!

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