Exotic Gardening

November 2: Tomatoes, Peppers And Flowers, Oh My!

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It’s funny what a difference climate change has made in Indiana. When I first started gardening, the northern part of Indiana that I reside in was a U.S. Department of Agricultural hardiness zone 5a. Several years ago, this same area became a USDA hardiness zone 6a – and believe me, that makes a difference in what you can grow – especially if you are pushing hardiness zones like I am. Bananas, gingers and palm trees have survived over the winter months in my garden. Of course, they had to be mulched well and covered with a make-shift cold frame – but hey, getting these awesome tropical plants to survive in the ground in Indiana made the extra work well worth it!

Of course, I grow so much more than just ornamentals over winter. Everyone knows store bought produce never tastes quite as good as produce that comes from your own garden – and this is true regardless of the season. In fact, winter-grown greens have a sweeter taste and – in my opinion – are far more tender than those that are forced in a greenhouse or grown during the other three seasons. Today I have peppers forming, tomatoes ripening, lettuce that is ready to pick – all inside a cold frame. Outside in the garden kale, Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes) and Brussels sprouts are still growing – and will continue to thrive throughout the winter without protection. Best of all, frost actually sweetens the taste of these three vegetables.

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Even though we have had frost and temperatures in the lower 30’s here already there are still a lot of flowers in bloom. The main part of the garden has not died back yet and from indoors it still looks like summer in the garden. Here are a few photos I took today in various parts of my garden.

 

 

 

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