Has your garden been hit by a frost yet? While we were on vacation, ours apparently did which is really frustrating. Fortunately, it mostly just burned the leaves on most of the winter squash, pumpkin, eggplant, pepper and tomato plants but all of them are still working on ripening the fruit that is on each plant. Whew!

However, our summer squash plants are toast. We were able to harvest a few zucchini off a couple of the plants but now we're just going to pull up the plants and add them to the compost pile.

I checked the 10-day forecast for the Spokane area and there are no temperatures in the 30s to be seen. But if we start getting into a rainy pattern, that will start dropping the soil temperature. Just keep an eye on the forecast and keep some blankets or tarps on hand to cover the plants you want to protect.

And don't worry if you only have green tomatoes on your plants when the frosts start hitting the area. You can pick all of the medium to full-size tomatoes and store them in a darkened area until they ripen. I put ours in our basement, on sheets of newspaper and it works great.

If you haven't yet trimmed back the branches on your tomato plants or squash vines, be sure to do that as soon as you can. This will force the plants to focus their energy on ripening the existing fruit.

Last but not least, if you're growing pumpkins and winter squash, don't harvest them until they pass them thumbnail test: press your thumbnail into the outer skin of each one. If your nail pieces the skin, that means it isn't ripe yet. If you can't press your nail into the skin, it's ready to be harvested.

Last year, I cured our pumpkins and winter squash in our little greenhouse where it was bright and sunny but protected from rain and severe frosts. I placed them on sheets of newspaper and kept them in there for about 2 weeks before storing them in our basement. This made a huge difference in the length of time we could store them so I'm definitely going to do that routine again this year. You can see how I did it last year in the photo above.