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Patchy Frost

Truth Partisan's picture

Areas are going to be lightly frosting over tonight, in places in the North.

What should be brought in?

-Fragile or tropical things in pots (including amaryllis)
-herbs like basil
-some vegetables (toms?)
-currently flowering plants
-avocado or other tropical trees

Other suggestions in the face of a light frost?
Should any garden plants be dug up?

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Comments

Submitted by lambert on

Time to take it in?

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gyrfalcon's picture
Submitted by gyrfalcon on

This is my first year growing it, so I have no experience, but everything I've read says it should be picked before the first frost.

A very light frost might not hurt it much, but if you don't want to risk losing any, bring it in.

whaleshaman's picture
Submitted by whaleshaman on

...there are lots of websites that say to harvest BEFORE the first frost.

Brings all house plants in. Ideally they should be brought in a few weeks before you have to turn the heat on so they can make the adjustment to the indoors.

You'll be busy this afternoon--good luck! Bake a squash to have after you're all done. Mmm-mmm good.

Truth Partisan's picture
Submitted by Truth Partisan on

If you believe that the weather will get warmer for a few more nights or weeks, old-timers used to put the garden to bed by putting out the quilts overnight to keep out the frost. Other things--sheets, and they sell frost coverings too that are almost like thick nets, burlap (not the kind used for potatoes unless they are organic--the chemicals in the non-organic kind can harm plants)--help too. Even newspapers. Make sure the ends are weighted down. And that the quilt, etc., aren't too heavy or you can mush plants--leaves and blossoms.
There's that whole water wall thing too--warm water in jugs with plastic over it and over the plant or something. But maybe that's only for spring?
Or even mulching over--I've done this a lot. You have to pick the right time in the morning to pull off the mulch--not too soon but not after it's too hot (if it's going to get hot!)

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

This is why farmers make the big bucks year after year, and some good experience for those of you anticipating the cushion of home agriculture as a means of softening the coming econoclimatological collapse.

If you think the weather will warm again, you can try getting through the frost and buy yourselves a few more weeks of growth and a bigger harvest. If you gamble wrong, you could lose everything still out.

If you think this is an end-of-season weather shift then it would be best to harvest everything now. If you gamble wrong, however, you lose any chance of increasing your harvest and in a tough economic environment you may not produce enough to get through the winter and thence become one with the Greenland Vikings.

On my Mother's side, everyone (except her) for as far back as there are records were farmers. Of my generation, there are none. The uncertainty, the forced gambles, make it certain that sooner or later you will gamble and fail.

So what I have done, when I lived where there were Fall frosts, was take a middle ground. Late this evening, just at sunset, hose everything down so the ground is soaked and the plants are dripping. Cover your vines and potted plants with plastic sheets or dropcloths, using bricks or rocks to hold them down at the corners and in between. The water will freeze before the plants, giving up heat in the process. Take the covers back off in the morning once the sun is up. Everything but tropicals should survive a light frost just fine.

Just to be safe, though, I'd strip ripe and near-ripe tomatoes and harvest mature squash and anything else that's ready to pick. If you do get frost damage, you'll have saved most of the crop. Winter squash fruit, even immature, are pretty hardy; it is the vines that will frostbite first, and if that happens you can strip off everything then. Even frosted tomatoes are not a total loss, pick them immediately and clean and stem, then either freeze whole or chop and cook down to sauce for freezing or canning.

If you have a basement or mudroom or garage, when the true end of season comes you can pull up your tomato vines and hang them upside down from the ceiling. The tomatoes won't get any bigger but they will ripen - most of them - extending the fresh-grown season by a couple of weeks.

Middle of September is just about when anyone up North should be bringing amaryllis and other such indoors anyway. You might squeak out another couple of weeks but why take the risk? Hardier potted plants can probably stay out another month, but keep them well wetted so that in a sudden cold snap the water in the soil freezes and not the roots/bulbs.

If it frosts, your basil is mush. Pick it anyway and freeze for later use. Washing frozen basil isn't possible, but don't be a weenie; a couple of bugs in a stew never hurt anyone. Who grows avacado up North? That is masochism; I don't grow them and I live in California. Get yourself a nice Norway pine.

Good luck.

Truth Partisan's picture
Submitted by Truth Partisan on

And then they will bloom at Christmas?
Plural: Amarylli?

Avocado pits, even non-organic ones from the store, make fine winter indoor houseplants (and actually can stay indoors in summer too.)

Frosts are kind of exciting. Why?

Thanks very much for tips everyone, and thanks especially for the watering tip, bio. Also liked the historical placement of farming (how true) and the personal history. You have, as some here do, what we call the farmer gene.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Now's the time. Put them inside some place dark and cool and stop all water. If you don't have anywhere dark to put them, just cover with an inverted brown paper bag. Let them die back, pull up the bulb(s) and strip off dead leaves and loose outer peel. Repot with loamy soil or planting mix in a pot just a couple of inches wider than the bulb, with the bulb sticking up above the soil and 2-3 inches of soil below. No chilling is needed; move them directly to a cool sunny spot, water and fertilize. If you repot the last week of October you should have blooms by Dec 15.

I got lazy and quit forcing my amaryllis some years ago, They live outdoors here in CA all year, never die all the way back and bloom when the spirit moves them, various times of the spring. For Christmas I force paperwhites and when they're done I stick them in the ground in odd locations, some in groups and some as singles. They live or die after that all on their own, and bloom or not as they choose.

Truth Partisan's picture
Submitted by Truth Partisan on

Brought in basil and tender plants that can double as houseplants in--okay and one tomato, which I know won't make it, but I still think maybe I can have a tomato plant indoors sometime.
The cut pumpkin I keep leaving out or bringing in randomly, as most nights continue frosty or close. Can't decide if it will decompose quicker in or out...

Lambert, yeah, what happened with winter squash?

Submitted by lambert on

I just picked 'em all. When I tested the skin with a fingernail, all were ripe.

[ ] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

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