This afternoon, it was time to break out the plastic once more and create covered wagons everywhere. With a forecast low of 27 at the ranch, and with my continuing quest to have one ripe tomato in the winter here – one that will get to red or purple without cracking – wrestling with plastic to cover for the impending weather is just part of the routine.

I know some people poo-poo the idea of growing tomatoes in winter. “I won’t eat things out of season,”, they say, pointing to the additional environmental issues involved in raising things out of season, like the transport of the item from wherever it’s grown (South America, for instance) to the local market, or to the energy consumed in forcing things to grow outside their usual time. In this case, however, I am not transporting the item anywhere – except potentially to a tasty meal on my table – and we are expending no additional resources to keep the plants alive beyond the human energy necessary to pull out the plastic covers and get them set in place. That particular energy is fairly significant, because I have to say, high mil plastic is rather heavy. But, from an overall standpoint, beyond the initial purchase of the plastic, the environmental impact is pretty much zero, since it can be reused, likely for years with proper storage, without then sending it off to the recycling center.

Thus, the quest for summer vegetables in winter continues here at the ranch. I’m certain the weather will finally kill the okra that has been so productive for us, but that staunchly held up through previous freezes without benefit of protection. It’s a hardy beast, and as of this afternoon, still flowering with beautiful buds signaling another round of fruit. If it is still there in the morning, it will be a most pleasant surprise, although I’m aware there is still the issue of diminishing returns even for what was the star performer of last season.