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Frost warning - what do we do?

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Post  NHGardener on 9/16/2011, 4:22 pm

Uh oh. Frost warning for tonight. It kind of snuck in by surprise.

What do we do when there's a frost warning? I have tomatoes still producing, some eggplants, some squash/cucumbers (altho most of those are over). I have some corn - maybe I should pick all the ears this afternoon.

How do you cover tomato plants? With blankets? Or is it worth it?
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Post  Patty from Yorktown on 9/16/2011, 5:11 pm

I think it is worth the time and peace of mind to cover plants with a blanket or sheet. In our area, we get a slight early frost followed by a few more nice weeks. Good Luck.

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Post  NHGardener on 9/16/2011, 5:17 pm

That's what the weather forecast looks like here too - frost "advisory" tonight (I really hope it doesn't happen - they said lows in the mid-30s so I'm surprised that's frost temperatures) and then by early next week back into warm weather.

I could just drape whatever I can in a sheet then, that doesn't sound too involved.
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Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 9/16/2011, 5:41 pm

Even plastic tarps will work. Anything that keeps the frost off the leaves/flowers/fruits. And, you can get frost in the upper30s, too. It's a combination of humidity, air temps, winds, and ultimately....how high the thermometer is above the ground.
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Post  NHGardener on 9/16/2011, 6:44 pm

Thank you. I didn't know that about frost temperatures, I figured it would have to be 32 degrees. Also, the tarp makes it even easier, we have a few of those hanging around.
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Post  camprn on 9/16/2011, 7:54 pm

I picked all the super fragile fruits off the eggplant and Most of the tomatoes. I covered my green beans and my poblano peppers, cherry tomatoes, and cukes (all in the same bed) with a plastic tarp. I pulled up the basil plants and stuck the roots in a bucket with water. Looks like tomorrow is a pesto making day.You can use bed sheets and light blankets as well as plastic sheeting. Good luck. Wink

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Post  NHGardener on 9/16/2011, 8:12 pm

camprn, I hope the "advisory" doesn't stick. I threw 2 tarps over my tomatoes, figuring those were my favs, and I'm crossing my fingers that the eggplants survive and what may be among the squash leaves.

Would it be the higher-up veggies or the lower-down-to-the-ground veggies that are in most danger from a light frost? I would think the ground would be warm enough to somewhat protect the ground level plants?
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Post  camprn on 9/16/2011, 8:22 pm

It's more likely a frost in the valley vs. on the hill. A few feet within the garden will not make a difference. You may benefit from busting out the bed sheets and covering what you can.
http://www.accuweather.com/blogs/news/story/55151/freeze-for-new-england-friday.asp

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Post  NHGardener on 9/16/2011, 9:02 pm

camprn, once again, you're right. I'm dragging out the old sheets - in the dark - in the cold - to cover my babies, even tho they're well past prime, might get another eggplant or squash out of it. Smile
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Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 9/16/2011, 9:12 pm

Even being under a tree or eave can stave off frost. Just get a "roof" over them somehow. And, it wouldn't hurt to get out really early in the morning and water the plants from head to toe (yes, get the leaves wet). Any frost that forms will quickly melt when the water hits them. The temps will be above 32° so you have nothing to worry about in terms of damage to the plants. And, the plants have all day to dry out and avoid any fungus formation.

Frost is always hard to predict...even on a windshield...because the amount of "cover" overhead often makes the critical difference. And, yes, valleys show frost easier than hills. North side of hill also shows faster than south side. Google "radiational cooling" to get a better idea of how frost forms.

It's the freezes you have to pay a lot more attention to. That is where heat retention comes in. Frost is just trying to keep it from "settling" on the plants.
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Post  stripesmom on 9/16/2011, 9:57 pm

Just don't use plastic if it's touching the plants. It doesn't breathe and will trap in moisture and then freeze inside of the plastic. If you have hoops and your plants are small, it's fine.



A few years ago, we had an ice storm in the spring and my spring flowers were blooming. I woke up before the sun came up and used the hose on every thing to melt the ice off before the sun touched them. That worked great to remove the ice and nothing was lost. Just an FYI in case you get caught by an unpredicted ice storm.



Two nights ago, we had temps that got down to the mid 30's. I looked out and saw ice on top of the cars in the morning. You can never be too careful or depend on the weather service to even know what they are talking about. Cover up your plants and you won't be sorry.
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Post  NHGardener on 9/17/2011, 7:49 am

Wow. Weather, frost, freeze, radiational cooling, plastic, breathable material, predawn watering.

A whole new level to SFG - Very Happy
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Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 9/17/2011, 10:42 am

@NHGardener wrote:Wow. Weather, frost, freeze, radiational cooling, plastic, breathable material, predawn watering.

A whole new level to SFG - Very Happy

Yup...it can be as simple or complex as you want it to be.

How'd you fair?
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Post  NHGardener on 9/17/2011, 3:58 pm

Well, everything seems to be okay, except the powdery mildew on the squash leaves, but I figure, eh, it's so close to the end of season anyway...

I did find 3 more cucumbers when I was rooting around, and a large zucchini. Ha. Those things hide unless you play detective. Some of my zucchinis have grown so big (because I'm not vigilant enough) that the kids run through the house clubbing each other with them. I have to say: The vegetables are NOT toys!!

But yes, the garden seems to have survived, and throwing 2 tarps and 2 sheets over them undoubtedly helped. I'm keeping those close by for next time, which thankfully isn't in the forecast right now.

Thank you for the tips, everyone.

Edit: Oh darn. I spoke too soon. Another frost warning for tonight. Here we go again.
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