Garden Peppers row covers Tomatoes

Tomatoes & Peppers – Before the Storm


I spent yesterday and today  trying to do whatever I could to prepare for several days of wind and rain from the storm Sandy.  You may have done the same.

I made bread, soup, strawberry muffins, and several other things so I can put meals together when the electricity goes out.  Filled buckets of water. Cleaned the house.  Don’t know what good that will do — but as silly as it sounds it made me feel more prepared.  🙂

Early Green Tomato Harvest

Yesterday, I harvested close to 300 tomatoes. I would have preferred waiting until just before the first hard freeze is predicted, but with the rain this storm will bring — I knew my tomatoes would split.  So I harvested all the big ones and/or the ones turning red.

There are still that many left on the vines that are small to medium sized. I left them because if the weather turns nice after this storm there is always a possibility that I’ll get another large harvest.

I harvested about 300 tomatoes before the storm. The large oblong tomatoes are Opalka.  Two ripe ones in the first baskets and another in the second.


Opalka Tomatoes

What really surprised me was that among the 300 tomatoes were about 40 very large Opalka tomatoes!

The reason that deserves an exclamation point at the end is because I planted several Opalka tomato plants in mid- June and as of mid-September each had produced no more than two or three tomatoes.

I wanted to pull them up the worse way — but years in the garden has taught me never to be hasty in pulling anything up. Always wait to “see” the “rest of the story”.

In spite of that I had pretty much resolved not to grow them next year because they take a lot of space and 2 or 3 tomatoes is not enough return on investment — especially when I’m use to hundreds of tomatoes on one plant.

I was absolutely shocked to find 40 of these gigantic oblong Opalkas on the vines.  I even found 3 ripe ones which will be delicious roasted at 425 degrees with olive oil, garlic, and basil.  (If we loose power — I’ll have them after the storm.  What a way to celebrate!)

There are still lots of small ones on the Opalka vines —- especially the plant that has a prime spot.  So —- we’ll see what happens.  Maybe I’ll reconsider and plant at least just one next year.


Some of my pepper plants have dozens of huge peppers just waiting to turn red.  And I LOVE my red peppers. I harvest at least 3 to 5 green ones each day — (the medium sized ones) — for daily use and leave the big ones to turn red.

If you grow peppers you know how brittle and delicate the branches can be and it doesn’t take a lot to break a large branch.  Then your peppers are harvested whether you wanted them to be or not. Strong winds can be the end of the peppers.

Effort to Save Them

I pulled out some old row cover fabric I’ve had for years and wrapped most of the peppers to try to keep some of those huge fruits from blowing off in the wind that we’re expecting.

It might end up being the joke of the season, because wind can tear up the peppers and all their wrappings in a heart beat.  But I figured it was worth a try.

I left a few unwrapped just to compare how they fared with the supported ones.

After the storm I’ll go out and gather any that have fallen off and freeze what I can’t use fresh.

Pepper plants in the garden wrapped with old row cover fabric.

Final Thoughts

I hope all of you will fare the storm well and come to no harm.  Let me know how you do.  I’ll be thinking of everyone in Sandy’s path.


More About Tomatoes:

More About Storing Tomatoes

How to Keep Tomatoes Through December for Eating Fresh

Tomato – Tomato – How Do I keep Thee – Let me Count the Ways

A Quick and Delicious Tomato Sauce

Addendum to a Quick and Delicious Tomato Sauce

More About Peppers:

Peppers – Almost An Extra Month of Red Ones

Peppers – Can’t Get Sweet Red Ones? Here’s How.

Peppers – It Ain’t Necessarily So


Organic gardening is easy, effective, efficient and a lot healthier.


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  • Theresa, just a quick note to express my concern for all those in the storm’s path, my thoughts and prayers are constant.

    May you, your families and your homes/gardens be safe!

    Looking forward to the good news and stories after the storm…Jenny

  • We seem to be okay here in NC, but I hope that you don’t have much damage in VA, Theresa. Carol

  • Jenny – thank you for experessing concern and your good wishes. Thank you too Carol — sure glad all is well in NC. I see from the “track” map that NC had lots of flooding.
    We had a few wind gusts, but basically like a great rainy day. I wish that would last, but the storm is so huge and I think the really bad stuff is suppose to be tonight through Wednesday. But — you never know. I just hope that all who are experiencing the “really bad stuff” will be ok and make it through.
    I looked out the second floor window this morning and my pepper covers are still in place in the garden. I’ll hope for the best.
    Still have power. That makes me happy!
    Thanks again for all your thoughts prayers for everyone in harms way.

  • Hi Theresa. Our power is already out this A.M.! High winds and hard rain here. My prayers that you all stay safe and ride out the storm with no to little damage! I’m very glad you were able to get your gardens bounty in and prep the garden for the wind damage! Stay dry & warm!

    It sounds like you and Bill will be well fed through the storm! I will be thinking you all and keeping you in my prayers!

  • Thinking of you with positive thoughts and prayers. We had our first freeze. Swiss chard, green onions and next years garlic are all that remain. Your baskets of green tomatoes are beautiful. Congratulations.

  • Sure sorry you lost power already MaryAlice. Our lights are flickering — but holding so far. If you’re on line without power I guess you have a generator running?
    Anyway — be safe. Thanks you for your prayers for us. And we will keep you in ours as well. Keep me posted when you can.

    Alice, thank you for your positive thoughts and prayers. This storm is so huge and covers a lot of area. I’ll be glad when it’s over.

  • Update: October 29th – 6PM
    STILL HAVE POWER!!!!! YEH!!!!!!!
    Had those 3 big Opalka tomatoes roasted with olive oil, garlic, and basil with dinner tonight. Another blueberry tart bites the dust.
    Hopefully you still have power and no damage in the storm so that you can appreciate this bit of humor. 🙂

  • Theresa,
    Good to hear that you are doing well. My thoughts are with you, Bill and your readers in the path of the storm.

    Be safe and take care.

  • Keepin you all in my thoughts and prayers.
    Those Opalkas surprised me too. I have some that have turned red after I pulled them off the plants in September. I think I’ll plant one or two next year again.
    Stay safe.

  • Hi Danita and Aparna. Thanks so much for your thoughts and prayers. Wind is just awful now — but we STILL have power.
    I’ve been looking at the tracking on the storm and the main part is going right over Maryland. Sandra is one reader I know is right in that path. I feel sure she is without power, but hope she and her family are alright.

  • Hi Theresa,
    We are fine this morning, and I am really interested to hear how your covers held up! What a test for them! If they can hold up to that wind, they’ll hold up! AND, if they don’t, at least the temps. are not cold enough to freeze things as they would be in the winter if they got exposed. I did not cover my peppers and they are just fine today. If your covers held up, then I want to know your attachment methods. That’s always been the trickiest part for me.

  • So glad all went well for you and your family during the storm.
    I wrapped those pepper plants with old row cover fabric and fastened with clothes pins — which I thought might be a joke.
    It doesn’t take a very big wind to get rid of those.
    I haven’t been to the garden yet, but from the window all looks well. Could be deceiving. I’ll report back after I go out there.

    Regarding my hoops and what I’ll use to attach the plastic or fabric to them — I have the pvc clamps ready and Bill had a few big clamps (don’t know what to call them but will show them in a picture later) to secure the excess plastic down at each end.

  • Hope you faired well with the storm! We got lucky here in Northern PA, Sandy moved further west and we didn’t get it as bad as they predicted. Snow tonight though 🙁 My garden as been done for a few weeks now. I had hot peppers in pots that I had moved into the garage to keep from freezing. I grilled them and made into a wonderful sauce. That was the last of things here.

  • Hi Jill. Glad you came through Sandy better than expected. We did as well. Lot of wind, but I’ve seen it worse. Feel very fortunate.
    Tomorrow I’ll check the garden to see how the peppers held up.
    That was grand that you could move the potted ones to the garage to keep them from freezing. That sauce you made from grilled peppers sounds wonderful!
    Sorry to hear your garden is done. I have 4 winter beds that are coming along, so I’m looking forward to small but continued harvest during the cold months.
    Won’t be long ’till it’s time to plant for spring again.
    Thanks for checking in. Glad you’re ok.

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