Monday, September 19, 2011

Transitioning Your Garden from Summer to Fall I: When to take out summer vegetables

The question I’m most often asked at this time of year is, “When do I take out my summer vegetables and plant my fall garden?” Your timing for transitioning the garden depends on two factors:

1) Space. Do you have to take out your summer vegetables to make room for fall? If not, leave them in the ground until the first frost.

2) Productivity. Are your summer plants still productive? If they are, leave them in and reap the benefits.

You may be surprised at how productive summer vegetables can be in October. Last year, my tomatoes had hundreds of green fruits on them when our local meteorologist predicted the first frost. I kept the larger ones on my counter, and they ripened over a 5-week period. Their taste and nutritional value were somewhere between fresh-picked, vine-ripened July tomatoes and grocery store offerings. It seems like the longer it takes them to ripen, the less flavorful they are.

As an alternative to covering your countertops with fruit, you can pull the tomato plants out of the ground and hang them upside down, in a cool but protected spot, picking tomatoes as they ripen.

Green tomatoes can be used in cooking (see Dot Russell’s recipe in the newest issue of Edible Upcountry) or pickled. Pickling was the method I chose for the cherry tomatoes. The only required additions were pickling salt and vinegar. I chose to include garlic and dill seed from my garden, before I processed the tomatoes with the water bath method.

So many recipes for pickled tomatoes are based on pecks or bushels – but here’s one that’s great for small batches:

We’ll post more information about fall gardens soon – and watch for our upcoming courses on food preservation and cooking!


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Welcome Rebecca!

We are thrilled to finally have Rebecca McKinney join our St. Francis Community Garden family! Many of you are very familiar with her from her volunteer work in the garden over the summer. As of Monday, September 12th, she is now a part time St. Francis employee and your expert in gardening. To reach Rebecca, her phone number is #255.188 EXT. 2233 and her email is She has a wealth of knowledge in many areas (as highlighted in her biography below). She will be hosting the Sprouting Saturdays through the Fall and assisting me with educational programming, so stay tuned! Addditonally, here are 6 interesting facts about our new face of the St. Francis Communtiy Garden:

  1. She grew up in Southwestern Ohio, in an area surrounded by farms. As a child, she spent most of her vacations on relatives’ farms in Southwestern Kentucky.

  2. She has one sibling, a brother, a patent attorney in California who specializes in nanotechnology (The science and technology of building devices, such as electronic circuits, from single atoms and molecules.).

  1. She and her husband's suburban homestead houses 13 chickens, 5 ducks, bees and 3 cats. She has future hopes of adding Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats to her animal one day.

  2. She and her husband enjoy bicycling the Swamp Rabbit Trail together.

  3. She likes to bake and make cheese, yogurt, jams and salsas.

  4. She is published in the area of psychometrics (The branch of psychology that deals with the design, administration, and interpretation of quantitative tests for the measurement of psychological variables such as intelligence, aptitude, and personality traits).

Rebecca McKinney is an experienced organic gardener, instructor and consultant. A former college professor, Assistant Dean of a School of Business Administration, corporate trainer, manager for industry, and management consultant, she now focuses on developing self-sufficiency and on sharing knowledge about organic gardening and sustainable living.

Rebecca has trained elementary school teachers and garden volunteers for Greenville Organic Foods Organization’s (GOFO’s) Grow Healthy Kids program and staff for the Phoenix Center’s therapeutic adolescent gardening program. She and GOFO’s founder, Viviane Trama, also developed a 12-week gardening and nutrition curriculum for the Phoenix Center and worked with staff and residents to plan, plant and maintain their garden.

She continued her work with children at Stone Academy, where she developed outdoor garden-related activities for elementary school students.

Rebecca also teaches for the OLLI program at Furman University. Her first class, “Beginning Organic Gardening,” was so popular that she was asked to develop more courses. “Our Local Sustainable/Organic Food System” brought farmers and food experts in to highlight the importance of buying locally and organically-produced meat and vegetables, and led to a series titled “Locally Owned and Grown,” in which students will tour local farms and restaurants that source locally.

Rebecca has been a Master Gardener since 2007. As a member of their Speakers Bureau, she is frequently asked to speak to garden clubs and other organizations about organic gardening, native plants and invasive plants. The MG evening program recently requested that she present “Transitioning to Organics” as part of a continuing education requirement for all Master Gardeners.

She recently graduated from the South Carolina New and Beginning Farmers Program, where she built a network of contacts and friends throughout the state and attended classes on agribusiness and farming.
Rebecca is a member of GreenWorks, a green networking group; Carolina Farm Stewardship Association; Piedmont Beekeepers Association; South Carolina Upstate Mycological Society and Greater Greenville Master Gardeners.

Please join me in welcoming Rebecca! Our next Sprouting Saturday is scheduled for September 24th at 9am. Additionally, for those who have a hard time attending on Saturdays, Rebecca will be holding a Sprouting Tuesday evening in the garden beginning at 5:30 (for those who can get away after work). Please take advantage of these times for having Rebecca guide your Fall planting and assist in troubleshooting issues.