Fried Green Tomatoes, Freezing Herbs, and Overwintering the Garden


The garden gate stands open now, nothing much left to protect within. Peas, zucchini, squash, green beans, peppers, and tomatoes are like a long-ago dream. Our garden wasn’t particularly abundant, but it did serve us well enough since I didn’t have a pressure canner to preserve any massive surplus anyway. I’ve been gifted with a “new” fifty-year-old pressure canner this week, which I’m going to try out on some half-price green beans from the market. I’ll be ready for next year’s garden! Its surplus is just a twinkle in my eye right now, but I’m determined and we’re planning our overwintering tactics to improve our construction-scraped soil.

We’ve got a line on some free horse manure, but for now, “poopy” straw from cleaning out pens is a cornerstone of our overwintering plans.

The goats are helping, as are the chickens.

Coco, you are NOT helping.

Stop laying on your back staring upside down at them through the chicken wire! THEY DON’T LIKE THAT.

I hope she doesn’t distract them from pooping.

The poopy straw makes its way onto the razed garden.

Leaves and kitchen scraps (my sort of shortcut composting until I get a compost bin built) will go onto the garden, too. It will all simmer through the winter, waiting to be turned over into the soil in the spring.

There are still a few bursts of life in the garden.

We’re trying to grow a little lettuce for late autumn salads..

Trying is the key word.

It’ll work out better if Coco quits napping right there.

I want to have a big, giant, crazy pumpkin patch next year. I don’t know why I want to have a big, giant, crazy pumpkin patch. I just do. Kinda like I want an ornamental cow and a pet sheep. And maybe some piglets. Okay, I’m out of control.

I’m sure I’d be better if I just had a big, giant, crazy pumpkin patch. At least.

I brought all my potted herbs in to protect them from frost then cut and hung them to dry. (See Drying Herbs!) Herbs like sage, rosemary, bay, mint, thyme, oregano, summer savory, and many others dry well.

Some herbs store better frozen, such as basil, chives, dill, chervil, and tarragon. Chop your herbs first.

Then spread herbs in a thin layer on a sheet. Place the sheet in the freezer for one hour.

After an hour, transfer them to a container and store in the freezer. They’ll stay good for months this way, though this jar of chives won’t last that long!

And the last of the tomatoes are in, many of them still green.

Which means it’s fried green tomatoes time!

How much of this coating recipe you’ll need depends on how many tomatoes you’re frying, so double or triple as needed.

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How to make Fried Green Tomatoes:

firm green tomatoes
1/2 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 eggs, whisked
1 cup bread crumbs or cornmeal
salt, pepper, garlic, herbs to taste
oil for frying

Heat oil in a skillet. Slice tomatoes (approximately half-inch thick). Place flour, milk, eggs, and bread crumbs or cornmeal in separate bowls. Add salt, pepper, garlic, herbs, whatever you like, to both the flour and the bread crumbs or cornmeal and stir to blend.

Set up your assembly line.

Dip tomato slices in this order: milk, flour, eggs, bread crumbs or cornmeal. Fry on both sides, watching and turning quickly–it will only take a few minutes on each side.

I like to have fried green tomatoes with Ranch dressing or ketchup.

Got any great techniques for overwintering your garden to prepare for next year? I’d love to hear!

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  1. Egghead says:

    Our soil is full of clay so our garden is planted each year in raised beds. It does beautifully and the few weeds that may sprout pluck out easily. We plant a cover crop of clover each winter because we have rainy winters. I don’t know if you could do that where you are because of the snow. In the early spring we work the cover crop into the soil and it keeps it rich in nutrients. We also work in cow manure each spring as well. I have used the chicken poo as well before but you have to be careful with that because too much will burn your crops (been there, done that).
    I love fried green tomatoes. Yum! :chicken:

  2. The Jillybean says:

    I absolutely LOVE fried green tomatoes. One of my all time favorites!!! We use the straw we clean out of our chicken pen on our yard, to hopefully grow some real grass.

  3. Kathie says:

    We are pretty new at the “farm” thing too. We just put all the poopy chicken straw over the garden yesterday. Our plans were to till it now and let it set for the winter. Are you going to till now or spring? We honestly do not know which is the best, but the chickens are now in clean straw….which they pitch out of the nesting boxes, so I am sure they too will lay on the floor (We hope for eggs by Christmas.).

  4. Shari C says:

    Sadly, do not have a garden, but do have my pots of herbs that were on the deck. We already had our first big freeze so the herbs are already stored for the winter season. Fried green tomatoes sound really good.

  5. Becky says:

    Coco just wants to play with the chickens. That would be funny, watching him running after all those chickens. But he could possibly cause them to quit laying. So DON’T LET HIM IN!
    The only tip I have is that I plow the garden in the winter to kill some of the bugs. I plow 3 times per year.

  6. jane says:

    Nothing better than fried green tomatoes!!!! Even though winter is coming and you have put that “stuff” on the future garden – it looks so great, especially to us city folk!!

  7. wkf says:

    I want pumpkins too!!! The tip on freezing the herbs :thumbsup: . Thank you!

  8. mmHoney says:

    My dad always had a hot bed by the garden gate. In the spring he used it for plantings – like tomatoes and sweet potatoes. However, in the fall it was a different story – He loved to experiment. The “hot bed” was an aboved ground frame and chicken droppings was the main source. In the fall he would sow lettuce and when it was freezing he would cover it with tar paper (always removing it when the sun was out) Results was wilted lettuce on New Years Day. He also dug a deep pit in the garden – lined it with straw – and buried cabbage – apples – potatoes for winter use. In the Spring it was all worked back into the garden. It is difficult to explain the details…. but I think you may understand – if you have questions let me know.

  9. lola falana says:

    I’ve had to adapt to a climate with little rain and no winter to speak of. I’m growing new tomato plants right now. My harvest will start early next year and continue until it gets too warm at night for them to produce (mid-March). Soil is sandy, so I use raised beds with moisture retaining garden soil. Each year before fall planting, new soil is added with cow manure and hummus. This year I also added Milorganite.

    We also have copious fallen oak and cottonwood leaves, which I rake and put in the flower beds for mulch, and put the surplus in small “pens” made with 4″ utility wire pulled into 3-4′ wide circles.

  10. Granny Sue says:

    Suzanne, you must try green tomato mincemeat. It’s delicious, and i know you’d find a lot of uses for it as a pastry filling. My recipe is on my blog, and there are many others online as well.

    As for overwintering your garden: we plow ours in the fall because it helps the clay in the soil to break down over the winter. Then in spring ground preparation is much easier. Your poopy straw is some of the best stuff you can add to your soil. Use it or clean straw or old hay for mulch next year–awesome stuff and holds in the moisture.

    If you burn wood, add your wood ashes to the garden; the potash is great for the soil and the ashes help the soil texture. Just be sure to spread them around and not dump them in one place. Late lettuce is a great idea–mine is fairly small now too because the drought kept it from sprouting, but I’m hopeful we’ll harvest a little bit anyway.

    You might want to grow some miniature Indian corn next year–it does great and the colors you get are so pretty! One stalk will have up to six little ears on it.

  11. Robin G. says:

    Oh, god, fried green tomatoes. *drool*

    Thanks for the tips on herb freezing, by the way! I am absolutely going to use that!

  12. Remudamom says:

    You’re supposed to watch the movie while eating them, I’m pretty sure it’s some sort of unwritten law.

  13. Donna says:

    OMG, those fried green tomatoes look scrumptious!!!!!! I wish I had one right now!!! You have a grocery store in your yard, Suzanne…all the fresh produce and herbs and eggs…I think that is so wonderful! I still can’t believe you grew those chickens and Roosters…well, hatched and grew them. LOL

    That Coco….little stinky!!!! I had to crack up when you told Coco to “stop laying upside down, staring at the chickens, they dont’ like that”…comment. CRACKED ME UP!!! That pup just has a BIG time, every day. LOL

  14. Abiga/karen says:

    Don’t forget next year to plant the miniature pumpkins, and a variety of gourds for decorating. We didn’t get here soon enough to plant them this past year. I do have a great fall garden with radishes, lettuce, beet and chard leaves, and cilantro which I need to put in a pot. I covered them with floating covers now but also added a blanket last night. Our tomatoes were only in two pots but they never did well in the summer since it was so hot. They took off in the fall and we have some small green ones. I put the pots in the garage last night since the next few nights are predicted to freeze for the first time. I would at least want them a little bigger for frying but I don’t know if it will work out. I don’t want my garden to die so I have been trying to save it. The plots where we didn’t plant this year are covered with a little horse manure and a cover crop with straw sprinkled over it to try to get it to grow more for digging under in the early spring. Cover crops are supposed to be really good for the soil. The leaves, what little we have went in the compost pile with chicken manuare. Blessings.

  15. Donna says:

    P.S. – I think that is so interesting about your herbs too…I heard some herbs are for cooking and some cannot be used for baking, as they burn too easily…I can’t remember which ones, but I read a recipe once that said to use the dry herbs, as the fresh would burn too easily…

    I would love to have an herb garden and cut fresh herbs, for cooking…maybe one day I will get a small herb garden and those fruit trees you can grow inside…since we have NO clue on gardens/farming, ect. LOL

  16. Jodie says:

    I LOVE fried green tomatoes. I don’t grow a garden, so I always beg a few at a farmer’s market, mostly they don’t like to sell green tomatoes. My grandparents used to fix that particular delicacy. PS. There is also a great recipe in the back of the book “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe”. A fantastic book too.

  17. Maureen says:

    My husband just brought the herbs in the house yesterday so thanks for the freezing tips!

  18. Wammy says:

    We are already planning for our garden next year…four nice raised beds of vegestable…some herbs in pots by the backdoor and two raised beds for planting flowers from seed to later be transplanted into the yard. But what I wouldn’t give to have a little black goat. Don’t think that will even happen.

  19. Brandy says:

    This was our first year trying to grow anything. Our tomato plant was still bearing tomato’s last week. But, we’ve never had fried green tomato’. What do they taste like?

  20. catslady says:

    We were told there was a slight chance of frost a couple of weeks ago – I gambled and lost 😥 No green tomatoes for me.

    My grandfather had some land and helped me grow the largest pumpkin ever when I was a child – he started it in a hotbed and gave it lots of fertilizer. It was gorgeous. My aunt made pies from all the smaller ones (not really small lol).

  21. Estella says:

    We till our garden and cover it with black plastic for the winter.

  22. Tori Lennox says:

    Don’t forget the ornamental miniature horses!

  23. Susan says:

    I miss the just picked from the garden veggies all ready!

  24. Stefinity says:

    Fried green tomatoes and fried yellow squash are two of my all time favorite foods. I put my fried green tomatoes on thick slices of toast with Miracle Whip — makes an awesome sandwich!

  25. cindy smith says:

    would you happen to mave a recipe for greean bean casserole

  26. tammy says:

    Suzanne, I just found your blog thru a comment on GW. I love it. Even the cute shots of the farm animals. I dont live on a farm ( I did growing up), but we are close to being neighbors. I have heard of Stringtown, as my husband has worked with an oild and gas company for many yrs. It started out as Pennzoil. He had to go to that area before.I live in a small town, probably way North of you.About 2 hrs north of Charleston. I have just gotten started reading your blog.

  27. Karen Anne says:

    How hot do you have the oil? Thanks.

  28. tribalcime says:

    I have enjoyed my visit today reading your website ……. quite brightened up my day !

  29. Sheryl says:

    Hi everyone! I haven’t read here for awhile, but I needed a farm fix really bad lol! Love this blog! I don’t live on a farm, but the neighbors think our backyard is a farm-haha! The houses here are so close together,so I garden in nine 6×4 boxes and large smart pots. We have about nine months of gardening. Sometimes I wish I had more down time-so much to do, so little time! My tomatoes will be ready soon, so I’m looking forward to fried green tomatoes! Take care, and blessings to all of you =)

  30. sidneysmith says:

    Hi Ms. McMinn,
    Here on our farm after we are sure our garden is finished for the season we always move everything down, mow over it several times to mulch it, and rake all of our leaves dump them on it and mulch them until the trees are bare. Then we plow it, that way the soil is oxygenated, from the freezing and thawing throughout the winter. We throw all of our scrapes, chicken manure and bedding, and horse manure. Come spring you can plow it again or just go straight to tilling it, we typically plow it again, and let it sit for about a week, then till it. Then we’ll scatter more chicken manure and horse manure (cow manure will cause hog weeds to sprout) fertilize it with a fertilizer from our feed store and till it again. Then that’s when we start planting.

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