One of the difficult realities we’ve learned to accept in extreme cold climate growing is that, at a certain point, the season is going to abruptly end. Sure, there’s a little bit of variability from season to season. But, the truth is that after that average first frost date, the season is on a ticking clock.
When it comes to your warm climate veggies, like tomatoes and peppers, there’s another harsh reality. And that is that once it cools off, you simply will not see any more growth or maturity continue to happen from outdoor grown plants. Unlike lower latitudes, there’s very little hope that things are going to warm back up to the necessary temperatures to promote further maturation. Of course, if you have a greenhouse, you can eek out a couple more weeks of “good” maturing time. But, not outdoors.
In general, once we see temps dip into the 30’s like we saw last night, that usually marks that point for us. Whatever hopes we had of maturing those peppers or other warm climate crops are over. You simply will not, no matter how long you leave them, get “just a couple more” to mature. We used to wait until the actual first frost to do final harvests and found little benefit in doing so.
So, these days, once we see that weather shift into consistent high 30’s/low 40’s at night, we know it’s time to just pull those warm climate veggies and just be done with them.
We’ve learned this actually helps us stay focused. For us, when a crop is “done,” that means we can fully direct our focus on completing the harvests of other plants. We no longer have to revisit and divide our attention with those crops out of the way. For example, we were immensely disappointed that we had to do an early harvest of our potato crop this year, but at this point in the season, it’s a bit of a relief! One less thing we have to worry about!
You might want to hold on to those hopes and dreams you might get just a little bit more, and that’s OK too. But, there’s also benefits to just pulling your harvest in whatever state it’s in and being done with it for the season!